The worst prediction ever from Mark Cuban — four reasons he’s wrong about the death of search


People love to make fun of Mark Cuban, but it’s hard to argue with his success: He sold to Yahoo right at the peak of the Internet Bubble in 1999 for billions, and has done very well since then with basketball, movie theaters and much more. The only thing he didn’t win at was Dancing with the Stars.

Mark CubanNow Cuban claims that he makes 10 searches outside of Google for every search he makes inside the gold standard of search engines.

And he adds that while Google is fine now, the future may not be so bright as social takes over the ‘net.

But… Cuban is just wrong.

And maybe a bit duplicitous…

Here’s why:

First, he’s fudging his terms some. Here’s what he said:

If I want to know if anything note worthy happened in an NBA game, the last place i would search is Google. I would search twitter first. If i want to know if anything interesting happened at an event, the last place I would search is Google. I would search Instagram. The list goes on.

See what he did there? He’s saying that he’s “searching” for what happened in an NBA game but what he’s really talking about is browsing or perusing. He’s not looking for stats and data, he’s looking for the most recent sentiment about something happening in real time. Same goes for Instagram.

So if we take Cuban’s “searches” as being 10-1 not-Google, we can probably throw eight of them out because they aren’t really searches at all.

Second: Google grows every year, every day. You can search Google from any device anywhere all the time. Cuban acknowledges this, sure, but doesn’t really pay attention to the fact that Google itself is watching all the trends, and is both trying to adapt to the future, and shape the future at the same time.

Google knows social interaction is important. Why do you think we have Google Plus? Google knows the devices we use will have a part to play in the future of search. Why do you think they bought Motorola, invented Android, Google Glass, etc.?

(The amazing thing is — and this is something Google says right on that page — is that 15 percent of all the searches every day have never been searched before. Do the math. That means there are 150 million searches every day that have never come to Google ever before. That’s just staggering, and it’s why content marketing is so important. You need to use a lot of words because people are searching with so many new combinations of words every day.)

Third, my reaction after reading Dan Lyon’s excellent post about this was this:

Let’s say that it’s not hyperbole that only one in 10 searches is on Google. The question is: “Which one?” My hunch is that one search is when he needs a commercial good or service. That is, when he’s searching for “Who’s a bigger loudmouth, Richard Sherman or Joakim Noah?” he’ll search on social media. But when he’s searching for “3D TVs that work on a Lear Jet” he’ll search Google because he doesn’t want to appear to be a total ass on social media.

In short, Google is getting into social media, but the heart of search for business is now and will be pages for many years to come. That means pages on a site, blog posts, etc. How often you update those pages and how many words you use will be factors that may change. With all the updates from Google it’s clear that all the tricks don’t work any more, the only thing that works is lots and lots of great content.

Fourth, I think Cuban should have come out and announced what his personal interest in this topic is. He owned (and maybe still has a piece of?) IceRocket, which is a search tool that searches pages, but also searches social feeds. Did that play into his opinion? We don’t know because he didn’t say. Does he have some other investment that could be boosted? Even if there is nothing, I think it would help his credibility to say that his musings are just that, and there’s no business incentive behind his post.

He’s been Dancing with the Stars, and he’s been “dancing” with the SEC, but I’d prefer it if he didn’t dance around his interest in why he’s saying what he’s saying.

I like Mark Cuban a lot, and Shark Tank is a part of the BlogMutt story, but on this one I think Cuban is off the Mark. 😉

Writer’s postscript: This post was written in one hour as part of the big HubSpot month of blogging, and ended up winning the competition. The video below is where you can watch the creation of this very post. –Scott



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