The Most Intense Negotiation Between Hopscotch Owner and Mark Cuban! | Shark Tank US

The basic structure of the show means that, for almost every pitch, there’s a moment where it completely stops being fun for everyone and becomes a serious discussion. The entrepreneurs put on a peppy showcase for their thing, be it a new kind of ice cream cone or big chunky buttons you can strap on to your skiing jacket to control your phone while wearing gloves (two examples from a recent episode), and then one of the Sharks rips the band-aid off and says “I think this thing sucks. And for that reason, I’m out.”


It’s typically more polite than that, but not always, and more often than not it seems like Mark Cuban is the guy who kicks off that turn most effectively. He doesn’t have the asshole smarminess of Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary, who hangs his whole Shark Tank persona on the idea of being a ruthless jerk who just wants money (the villain/star of the show), but Cuban’s shtick is that he’s sort of a Regular Guy who just happens to be super rich and he really cares about helping people to get their businesses going. And maybe he does!

Top 3 Pitches Mark Cuban Has Called Out As SCAMS! | Shark Tank US | Shark Tank Global

But you can only trust outrageously rich people so much, and as soon as it’s no longer useful for the Sharks to be nice, they’ll effortlessly drop the veneer (or pick it back up) in order to get more money out of an investment or to avoid getting screwed by a product that never comes together. It’s all phony in various ways, and that’s why the really engaging thing isn’t seeing if an entrepreneur gets a good evaluation for their business, it’s seeing just how the Sharks are going to react to someone putting their heart on their sleeve and saying “this is the thing I’ve spent my life working on, please tell me it’s good.”


Shark Tank becomes significantly funnier if you imagine the Sharks sitting in the back of a classroom, criticizing the geode that a kid brought in. “Eh, it’s just not for me,” they’ll say as the person involved starts to sob and explain how they’ve given up all of their time and money to this geode (or new method of baking ice cream cones so they’re like doughnuts), and it makes all of the “loser” moments—when a person doesn’t get a deal at all or doesn’t get a deal they’re happy with—just delightfully silly.

It makes it all seem so arbitrary and petty; People make pleas for life-changing money to achieve their dreams, and some other people who just happen to be in a position to have that money and have the ability to give it away have to decide whether or not to do that based—at least to some extent—on how good the presentation is. It’s the ultimate high-stakes version of a school project. Is this where we’ve landed as a society? And is this any worse than ghoulish venture capitalists doing this exact thing in private? At least on Shark Tank we all get to watch and laugh.