America’s favorite commercial, disguised as a television show, “Shark Tank,” made Mark Cuban a household name (if you weren’t already a Dallas Mavericks fan). But last week, the billionaire revealed on the Send full podcast that he has generally failed to make a profit from his string of investments.
“Are you always aware of ‘Shark Tank’ investments?” the podcast host asked.
“Like, up financially?” said the venture capitalist. “Oh no, I’m defeated.”
“Shark Tank” brought the (dramatized, edited) inner workings of venture capital into the mainstream, but it turns out that what makes good television isn’t always a good investment. According to the fan-run website SharkalyticsCuban has invested nearly $20 million in 85 companies across 111 episodes of the ABC show, which has aired for 13 seasons since 2009. websitehe lists 54 “Shark Tank” investments, but he’s left out companies that no longer exist, such as Breathometer, which Cuban said was his biggest loss on the show.
Breathometer, a breathalyzer connected to your smartphone, has made “Shark Tank” history. The product earned investments from all five investors in 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 would look at his Instagram and he would be in Bora Bora,” Cuban said. “Two weeks later he would be partying in Vegas” [ … ] Before you know it, all the money is gone.”
Cuban said he texted the founder, Charles Michael Yim, to remind him to work on his product — but Cuban said the founder claimed he was “networking.”
That wasn’t Breathometer’s only kiss of death, though. In 2017, the company agreed to an FTC settlement after the government agency found that blood alcohol levels were often incorrect. That’s a huge problem, as the product was marketed to help people decide if they’re sober enough to drive home after drinking. As a result of the settlement, Breathometer offered refunds for every product sold between 2013 and 2015. Now the founder is working on Mint, a similar product that detects… oral health and hydration.
So, based on Cuban statistics, it seems we have more evidence for what we’ve known for so long to be true: “Shark Tank” is more about theater than business. Who would have thought that!