Oh, Put A Sacca In It, Shark Tank
Mark Cuban and guest Shark Chris Sacca recreate our current national dialogue by shouting at each other impotently long after everything's been decided. Oh, and everyone gets a deal.
In the promos building up to this episode, ABC would have you believe that Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca -- still guesting on this show, thanks to the pleas of exactly no one -- had themselves quite the donnybrook, trading rhetorical blows while the other Sharks stared at the ground, wondering why it was Mom and Dad had to fight all the time. And I guess you could call it that, if you define "donnybrook" as "two billionaires shouting pointlessly at one another."
For starters, the great Cuban/Sacca Throwdown of '16 -- truly the Lincoln/Douglas debate our generation deserves -- happens after all the deals get made and the fake novelty checks are signed and endorsed. Cripes, Cubes and Sacca couldn't even have their mano a mano when there was anything at stake, other than delaying the Shark Tank crew's smoke break. Then, there is the meat of their exchange, which I will paraphrase here.
SACCA: That product that just got funded wasn't unique at all.
CUBAN: You are incorrect.
SACCA: Perhaps it is you who are incorrect.
CUBAN: Are you looking in a mirror when you say that about being incorrect? Because the incorrect person is you, I think you will find.
SACCA: You are not only incorrect, but also quite dumb.
CUBAN: I could say the same about you.
CUBAN: Incorrect guy!
SACCA: Dumb, dumb dummy!
And so on until, mercifully 20/20 began. The Thrilla in Manilla, this ain't. More like The Slap Party on the Shark Tank.
How did we get to this point, from where Chris Sacca and Mark Cuban are tailgate buddies -- they endure the hardship of traveling to Auburn, Alabama to check in on that Airbnb-style tailgate-rental business they invested in last season -- to denouncing each other's business savvy in front of ABC's unblinking cameras? Let's go through tonight's show chronologically to see how their relationship devolved in real time.
1. Milk Snob
There's nothing wrong with what Melanie Disbrow's got going on. She's created an infant car seat cover that attaches securely to either a car seat or stroller to shield your sleeping baby from the sun's cruel glare. And when you're not using it for that, you easily pull it off and put it to work as a nursing cover. Even if that doesn't strike you as useful -- and, as someone who nominally contributed to the raising of a baby in recent memory, I can assure you it is -- Melanie's rung up $1.2 million over 18 months, with a half million of those sales coming in the last five of those months.
"I MUST OWN YOU," Chris Sacca all but screams, pledging $125,000 for an 8 percent stake. And Mark tells Melanie she should take that deal right away. See: they're buddies! But Lori Greiner butts in with a $150,000 for 10 percent offer ("because of the value I bring," she says, as if we would think the extra 2 percent is just because Lori likes round numbers). Kevin O'Leary ups the bid to $150,000 for 10 percent, an offer that Lori quickly matches.
At this point, Chris and Lori wonder why they don't just team up on an offer. The answer is because Melanie doesn't want to part with more than 10 percent, and that would leave the two Sharks with a piddly 5 percent stake each. Chris quickly senses that Melanie's not going to budge on the equity, and Melanie does the $150,000-for-10-percent deal with Lori because that was her first choice anyhow.
By the way, it is delightful how completely everyone ignored Kevin's offer during this segment. "Oh, you want to invest in a business involving babies? That's...deeply unsettling."
2. Jack's Stands & Marketplaces
So when Jack Bonneau -- sweet, smart 10-year-old Jack -- came out and started pitching his stand business, I thought, "Oh, how interesting: He's created build-it-yourself lemonade stands, so that kids can set up shop in their neighborhood and maybe learn a little bit about entrepreneurship." This is not at all what Jack's business is, though. Instead, near as I can figure, what Jack actually does is own a series of lemonade stands in the Denver area that other kids pay for a chance to operate. And it's not just lemonade stands either; there's also a marketplace Jack operates where kid entrepreneurs sell products made by other youngsters.
Forgive me if I don't have every detail of that exactly right. Throughout the pitch I was imagining Jack visiting each stand and saying things like "Hmmm, the take seems a little bit light this week. You wouldn't be skimming from me, would you, Chad? DON'T YOU WANT OL' JACK TO WET HIS BEAK A LITTLE?"
Jack would like $50,000 from the Sharks for 10 percent of his business. This is simply not going to happen, as expanding the business beyond Denver would require Jack to focus on something other than entering middle school in a couple years. Jack gets well-deserved attaboys from the Sharks and is about to go on his way empty-handed when Chris Sacca decides he's going to splash some cash n the form of a $50,000 loan. The two conditions are that Jack will take the loan in $10,000 chunks, just to make sure that his business remains on track as he also navigates through puberty; and that Jack will make a video podcast. Jack agrees to these conditions. We know that Mark is still on cordial terms with Chris, because it is Kevin, not Mark, who points out that Chris just saddled a 10-year-old kid with $50,000 worth of debt.
Continuing the worrisome trend of having competent people with well-run businesses on this show -- won't someone spare a thought for how this impacts snarky recappers? -- Jae Kim is here to get funding for his thriving Texas-based Korean barbecue business. How thriving? Jae has a fleet of food trucks and a trio of quick-service restaurants, with a couple more on the way. That seems like plenty to me, but Jae is looking for $600,000 to fund ongoing expansion, and he's willing to give up 15 percent of his business to get it.
He's not going to get it from most of the Sharks, despite his $4.7 million in sales last year. Chris, who has been known to back a restaurant or two, generally invests in an earlier stage, not in eateries looking to fund further expansion. Mark feels like it's not a good investment for him. (Chris and Mark -- still united.) Kevin indicates that he's been burned before on restaurant investment and isn't ready to love again, while Lori drops out over concerns with Jae's expansion ambitions.
That leaves Barbara, who's going to leverage her success turning the Tom & Chee chain into a multimillion tomato soup-fueled behemoth into extra maximum equity from Jae. You want Barbara Corcoran driving the Korean barbecue equivalent of your gravy train, you're going to have to pay up, mister, in the form of 30 percent equity. How's about 20 percent, Jae counters. Okay, Barbara says. That negotiation...was not as tense as I had imagined it would be.
Instead, our only moment of controversy -- at least until Chris Sacca and Mark Cuban start trading handbags at 10 paces -- is when Jae goes to exuberantly bear-hug Barbara, causing her skirt to ride up and giving the other Sharks a little too much of a view of her equity stake.
Junior Desinor is a Dallas real estate agent whose invented a smart lockbox that allows you, the person interested in buying a new home, to get the key to said home and look around without having to first go through a real estate agent. You send a request to the home seller through the Toor app, they say, "Sure, c'mon by and traipse about my home, total stranger," and then you show up and use your smartphone to magically open up the lockbox. Junior wants $500,000 for a 10 percent stake, and his presentation is marred only slightly by Chris Sacca bellowing "Nooooooooooooo!" throughout it.
Chris does not think Junior's product is very innovative. Chris, who looks at dozens of homes on any given weekend since he is wealthy and can buy several homes simultaneously, says he's seen lockboxes that do pretty much the same thing. Chris likes to interrupt other people a lot, lest any time elapse without someone hearing his very deep thoughts on something. Barbara, who's only made her fortune in real estate, assures us that no, Junior's product is very much innovative for the real estate industry, but did you ever write a check to the Uber guy, Barbara? I see you did not, so your argument based on your expertise and experience is moot.
Really, the problem that Junior has is he's asking for a $5 million valuation with exactly zero in revenue. (Your Kickstarter pre-sales don't count for anything, my good man.) That's Kevin's cue to propose one of his fanciful deals in which the $500,000 will be split into two parts -- $100,000 for that 10 percent equity stake, and $400,000 in the form of a loan to be paid back at 18 percent interest. That sounds pretty good to Barbara, who -- again -- has made her fortune in real estate, so she jumps in on Kevin's deal. Mark and Lori have already dropped out, so all there is to do is for Junior to either accept the offer or cou--
Oh. Chris has something to say. And foolishly, Junior agrees to let him speak. What follows is an incoherent Silicon Valley rant about how in the future, we will have no keys, so lockboxes are not relevant. Okay, Chris, that's valuable input. Let's turn our attention back to the people here that are actually interested in transacting a deal as opposed to LARPing your dream of a world without keys.
There's some back and forth between Junior and Team Kevin/Barbara, which eventually ends in Junior getting $200,000 for that 10 percent stake and $300,000 in the form of a loan, with the caveat that Kevin and Barbara help Junior line up a giant real estate chain to make this worth everyone's while. Handshakes are extended, assurances are made, and everyone goes home happy. Except for Chris and Mark, who choose this exact moment for a free and frank exchange of views about this product that neither of them invested in. That's a good use of everybody's time.