'Shareholders come last': Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban says CEOs should prioritise employees and their families in coronavirus crisis

Ron Jenkins/AP

  • Mark Cuban told Just Capital in an interview that shareholders should come last amid the coronavirus pandemic and employees and their families should come first.
  • “If you’re a great company, your shareholders will understand and will expand their P/E out of respect, because they’re all dealing with the same circumstances,” he said.
  • “If you get branded as a company that acted in bad faith, laid off all your employees, or really cut back and you took a bonus or whatever, you’re going to get crushed and your brand is going to go straight into the toilet,” said Cuban.
  • Read more on Business Insider.

Mark Cuban, the billionaire entrepreneur, Shark Tank investor, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has a clear message for CEOs of the Business Roundtable amid the coronavirus crisis: prioritise employees and their families over shareholders right now.

“Shareholders come last,” Cuban told Rich Feloni in an interview with Just Capital published Friday. “You guys have so much impact on the world that you need to take care of your employees and their families first.”

He continued: “If you’re a great company, your shareholders will understand and will expand their P/E out of respect, because they’re all dealing with the same circumstances.”


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The Business Roundtable, which represents nearly 200 leaders of America’s largest companies, in August 2019 signed a letter declaring that it views a company’s purpose to be not just for shareholders, but for all stakeholders – including customers, employees, and communities.

But Cuban thinks amid the coronavirus outbreak, CEOs should go a step further and consider how their actions will be viewed by consumers in the long term.

“The reality is by doing the right thing with your employees, you do more to help stabilise the economy. And from there, we have a better chance of getting back to business as usual,” he said. “If you just try to nickel and dime everything to try to optimise your earnings per share and keep shareholders happy, and at the same time your employees suffer and struggle, you’re going to get hit.”

Companies that don’t do the right thing will face consequences in the future, Cuban said, especially because younger consumers such as Millennials and Gen Z are watching crisis responses.


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“If you get branded as a company that acted in bad faith, laid off all your employees, or really cut back and you took a bonus or whatever, you’re going to get crushed and your brand is going to go straight into the toilet,” said Cuban.

Cuban also said it’s up to CEOs to express this to shareholders.

“Just say, ‘Look, if you want to stick with me, give me a little bit higher P/E ratio so that the stock maintains itself. But the reality is you’re not my first consideration right now. And if that doesn’t sit well with you, sorry, because my customers, that’s the way they think, and long term, if we’re looking at five, 10, 100 years from now, that’s what my customers will want. That’s how we’re managing this company and this brand. And if you don’t like it, now’s the time to sell.'” Cuban said.

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