In a recent interview with Yahoo Finance, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he told fellow billionaire Elon Musk to “bite your tongue” when dealing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Referring to the Tesla founder’s tussle with the SEC over the use of his Twitter, Cuban reflected on his own battle with the regulator in 2008 and said that while Musk was “under a different microscope,” he just had to “try to bite your tongue no matter how hard it is, because they don't care.”
Cuban stressed that the SEC was “only in it for skin on the wall, because they're — like, in my matter, there were people who left the SEC before the conclusion when I kicked their ass in the trial I had.”
The billionaire entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” judge described former SEC regulators as being self-serving, putting the fact that they “worked on the Mark Cuban matter” on their resume.
“This is a resume builder for them,” Cuban stressed. “They don't give a sh** — they don't care about you. They care about their resumes. And that's tough to fight.”
Musk has a ‘genius spirit’
Cuban made the comments to Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in a conversation that aired on Yahoo Finance on Thursday, May 23 in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
Cuban was cleared of insider trading by a Texas jury in 2013. He was accused by the SEC of using a private tip to avoid a $750,000 loss on his 2004 sale of shares in an internet search company called Mamma.com.
"I'm the luckiest guy in the world and I'm glad I could stand up to them," Cuban said then.
Like Cuban, Musk also ran afoul of the SEC, but for a very different reason: Last August, Musk he tweeted that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private, which sent shares surging.
Soon after, the SEC launched an investigation, and ended up suing Musk, accusing him of misleading investors. The dispute was settled with Musk and Tesla agreeing to pay $20 million each.
As part of that settlement, Musk had consented to have his tweets that could materially impact the company be pre-approved by a Tesla lawyer.
But he came under the regulator’s lens again in February this year for another tweet that the SEC said violated that October settlement.
That fight wrapped up in late April, with both sides agreeing to settle those claims by amending the earlier agreement to clarify which of Musk’s tweets needed pre-approval.
“I don't know him very well… I've talked to him a couple of times. [But] I like him because he's competitive,” Cuban said of Musk. “He's obviously got you know a genius spirit and mind for innovation, which I love. But he's also very competitive. And when you've got a bunch of bureaucrats trying to come at you in a world where there aren't bright line guidelines, that's tough.
I mean, it's like when I was battling the SEC, it took everything I had not to just say, ‘F you,’ every minute of every day, because it was ridiculous.”
Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance.
Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.