America's favorite advertisement masquerading as a television show, “Shark Tank” made Mark Cuban a household name (that is, if you weren't already a Dallas Mavericks fan). But last week, the billionaire revealed on the Full Send podcast that overall, he hasn't made a profit from his suite of investments.
“Are you up all time on ‘Shark Tank' investments?” the podcast host asked.
“Like, up financially?” the venture capitalist said. “Oh no, I've gotten beat.”
“Shark Tank” brought the (dramatized, edited) inner workings of venture capital into the mainstream, but as it turns out, what makes for good television doesn't always make for a good investment. According to the fan-run website Sharkalytics, Cuban has invested nearly $20 million into 85 companies across 111 episodes of the ABC show, which has aired 13 seasons since 2009. On Cuban's own website, he lists 54 “Shark Tank” investments, but he's omitted companies that no longer exist, such as Breathometer, which Cuban said was his worst loss on the show.
Breathometer, a breathalyzer that plugged into your smartphone, made “Shark Tank” history. The product earned investment from all five investors on the episode, including Robert Herjavec, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner and Daymond John, in addition to Cuban.
“It was a great idea and actually a decent product […] but I'd look at his Instagram and he'd be in Bora Bora,” Cuban said. “Two weeks later, he'd be in Vegas partying […] Next thing you know, all of the money is gone.”
Cuban said that he had texted the founder, Charles Michael Yim, reminding him that he needed to be working on his product — but Cuban said the founder claimed he was “networking.”
That wasn't the only blown-kiss of death for Breathometer, though. In 2017, the company agreed to an FTC settlement after the government agency found that the blood alcohol level readings were often incorrect. That's a huge problem, seeing as the product was marketed to help people decide whether or not they're sober enough to drive home after drinking. As a result of the settlement, Breathometer offered refunds on any product sold between 2013 and 2015. Now, the founder is working on Mint, a similar product that detects… oral health and hydration.
So, at least based on Cuban's stats, it seems like we have some more evidence for what we've known to be true for so long: “Shark Tank” is more about theater than business. Who would've thought!