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The Street
The Street
Luc Olinga

Elon Musk Has a Surprise Gift for Billionaire Mark Cuban

Usually, it's Mark Cuban who is in the position of someone whose words can change an entrepreneur's life. It often happens on the hit TV show "Shark Tank."

The concept is simple: on one side, there are entrepreneurs who have a creative project, or an existing business that they want to take to a new level. On the other side, there are investors, all "self-made” entrepreneurs, who have earned tens or hundreds of millions of dollars with their businesses and who are on the lookout for innovative concepts that have the power to be game changers.

Entrepreneurs present their projects and try to convince at least one "shark" to invest in their business, in exchange for a stake in their company. They often look to benefit from the skills and the relationship networks of the “sharks” as much as their money.

"Good Question"

The result is a program full of brilliant ideas… or absurd ones, pitches of entrepreneurs succeeding in convincing… or failing miserably, hard negotiations, real moments of emotion, laughter and tears. Above all, many lessons to be learned for entrepreneurs, or even for investors, on negotiation, sales and the art of influencing and convincing.

Cuban is one of the iconic investors on the show.

On June 19, he found himself somewhat in the shoes of one of the show's entrepreneurs, pitching to Elon Musk CostPlus Drug, the online pharmacy he co-founded in January 2022 to disrupt the pharmaceutical industry in the United States. The difference is that "Shark Tank" has been replaced by Twitter and the goal is not to receive an investment from Musk. The prize is much bigger and more important than that: getting Musk to promote CostPlus Drug by introducing it to the employees at one of his many companies to begin with.

The result is a message that could change everything for the online pharmacy, which is the only one of his businesses that bears Cuban's name. The exact name is Mark Cuban CostPlus Drug Company.

Musk just promised that Tesla, the electric vehicle maker, and SpaceX, the satellite and rocket company, would take an interest in CostPlus Drug and determine whether they would recommend the online pharmacy to their employees. Both companies are the jewels of the Techno King's empire, which has millions of followers on Twitter, a platform he also owns.

It all started with a Twitter user's audacity. The user challenged Cuban, asking why CostPlus Drug was not offering the drug Ivermectin, a drug that treats life- and sight-threatening parasitic infections including strongyloidiasis, an intestinal roundworm infection that affects an estimated 30 to 100 million people worldwide, according to Centers for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC).

Ivermectin also treats river blindness.

"Why does your company not offer ivermectin?" the Twitter user asked Cuban on June 19.  "Ivermectin costs $0.02 per pill in Africa, 100x mark-up in America."

"Good question," Musk pressed.


A few hours later, Cuban turned what seemed like a challenge him and CostPlus Drug into a colossal marketing opportunity.

"I'm sorry I didn't see you enter the discussion @elonmusk," the owner of the NBA franchise the Dallas Mavericks responded. "The price we were able to get was much higher than other available sources. We are trying to get a better price."

He continued: "Our mission is to be the low cost provider of every med we are allowed to sell. You should have your employees use us. It will save them and @twitter a fuck ton of money."

In the end, Cuban hit the jackpot because instead of Twitter, Musk promised that his two biggest companies would be interested in CostPlus Drug. In 2022, Tesla employed more than 127,000 people, while SpaceX has about 10,000 employees according to an NLRB complaint last November. Alongside those two, Twitter has lost more than 69% of its 7,500 employees since Musk took over the platform last October.

"Ok, I will ask Tesla & SpaceX to inquire further," Musk announced.

"Thanks. If you need any info let me know," Cuban said.

The commitment of Musk, the most influential CEO in the world with more than 144 million Twitter followers, is a huge endorsement that may prove to be the game changer that can propel CostPlus Drug into another sphere. 

It gives it exceptional exposure and could convince other business leaders and bosses to ask their companies to take an interest in the online pharmacy and then recommend it to their employees. It didn't take long, since Tosca Musk, the billionaire's sister, immediately indicated that her company was also going to look at CostPlus Drug.

"Passionflix will look into this too," she announced.

These developments are also positive for Musk since they show that Twitter has become a platform for doing business, which is in line with the ambition of the Techno King, who wants to make it an everything app.

CostPlus Drug Company is disrupting the $365 billion U.S. prescription-drug market, by selling generic medicines directly to consumers at low prices. It "fills and delivers prescriptions at cost plus a fixed 15% margin," the company says on its website.

Cuban is able to provide these prices because there's no middle person. CostPlus Drug Company bypasses health-insurers and negotiates directly with drug manufacturers.

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