The Startup Dream Team

In light of March Madness fast approaching, sports fans and enthusiasts start packing bars and clubs around the nation with speculative chatter. Who is the best team? Who is the best player? Our creativity and memory rapidly dives through stats, numbers, and highlight reels of our favorite players and teams. When I was a kid I used to fantasize of creating a dream team – the Avengers of basketball – complete with superstar players that complement each other. We pull from our favorite heroes in sports – the ones whose posters we’ve hung up on our bedroom walls – or even the ones we enjoy playing as in sports video games like NBA 2k14. Creating that all-star team is always a very fun process: analyzing superstars and top talent, discovering a way to gather them to work together, build chemistry, and finding a way to win every game and battle you engage in.

If creating a basketball dream team is this much fun, why not apply the same fantasy to the startup world? Therefore, I’ve decided to curate my own dream team complete with a starting five lineup, 6th man, and head coach. 

Indeed this dream team list is subjective as I created it largely on the bold impact and world-changing visions of founders who have inspired employees and other entrepreneurs alike; They’ve had tremendous social and economic impact; an obsession with innovation, and the performance of their companies over time speaks for itself. These founders created and nurtured healthy, sustainable organizations that now have a combined market value of more than $20 billion and together have directly employed more than a million people.
Yet those numbers only touch the surface. Each of their companies sits at the nucleus of a thriving ecosystem that has cultivated and nurtured dozens if not hundreds of other enterprises. So the power of each of these organizations extends far beyond its own walls.

From pop-culture to elite Venture Capital circles these individuals have changed the entire entrepreneurial playing field. They transcend geographic boundaries and cultures and have meandered their way through multiple industries effortlessly. They are our modern day heroes boldly changing the world. So without further adieu, let’s begin the dream team starting five player introductions.

Point Guard:
Mark Cuban
Estimated Net Worth $2.5 Billion


This billionaire entrepreneur has come a long way from selling garbage bags door-to-door since the age of 12. 

Today, Mark is the highly successful entrepreneur and investor who founded HDNet, and MicroSolutions. He has also been an investor in startups, including Mahalo,,,, Naked Pizza and

Mark may be best known for his purchase of the Dallas Mavericks on January 4, 2000. Under his leadership, the team's home games have become a total entertainment experience. Despite initial criticism, his impact on the team was easily felt by introducing original video content, advanced technology and unique entertainment options like the Mavericks ManiAACs. His successful efforts have brought a sense of pride and passion to fans and to the city of Dallas. 

Prior to his purchase of the Mavericks, Mark co-founded, the leading provider of multimedia and streaming on the Internet. was sold to Yahoo! Inc. for $5.9 billion in July, 1999. 

Currently, Mark is the owner and chairman of HDNet. HDNet and its sister network, HDNet Movies, are one of the few remaining independently owned and operated TV Networks in the U.S. and the first in the world to be programmed exclusively in high definition. His recent development, is being a shark on the hit show, Shark Tank.

The point guard sets the tone for an offense by managing movement and leading execution. With his upbeat personality, fast approach, and insanely competitive nature, Cuban can easily run the most formidable high-octane offense that would entertain all admirers and fans watching in the startup world. You know that whenever Cuban dabbles in something, it will always be handled boldly, quickly, efficiently and with lots of fun. 

Shooting Guard:
Elon Musk
Estimated Net Worth: $6.7 B


Elon Musk's fortune more than doubled in a year, thanks mostly to investors' passion and confidence for his shoot-for-the-stars-like inventions. When Elon Musk starts something, you always know what you’re getting: Something world changing. Shares of Tesla, his electric car company, and solar panel installer SolarCity have both surged. NASA is using his privately held SpaceX to resupply the International Space Station. Musk proposed his latest big idea in August: a "hyperloop" to carry people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 35 minutes. Born in South Africa; by age 12 he sold code to a space game for about $500. Musk left for the U.S. at 17 and his made first fortune as a PayPal cofounder with Peter Thiel.

Elon Musk is the heavy hitter, the most ambitious scorer, aiming to completely revolutionize industries and the world. From Space travel, ending the world’s dependency on fossil fuels, to speeding up transportation, Elon has no qualms about taking the shots that no one else would dare take. And in clutch time, there is no one else you’d rather have on your team. Everyone still remembers the moment, when Musk emptied literally almost all of his net worth to save Tesla and SpaceX shortly after the 2008 sub prime crisis. His grandiose confidence, bold visions, and absolute fearless mentality make him the deadliest highest scorer in the lineup.  Regardless of what daunting situation this team may find themselves, Musk has proven time and time again that anything is truly possible and has proven countless doubters wrong.

Small Forward:
Richard Branson
Estimated Worth: $4.6B

Britain's headline-grabbing high school dropout billionaire Richard Branson is $400 million richer this year, thanks mostly to the sale of his Virgin Media to fellow billionaire John Malone's Liberty Global. In 2012 Delta Airlines bought a 49% stake in Branson's Virgin Atlantic airline, expanding both companies' flight networks. After years of planning, his Virgin Galactic commercial space program is expected to make its inaugural flight this year. In true Branson style, when he opened his (and the world's) first commercial spaceport in New Mexico in 2011, he rappelled down the side of the huge glass building while popping champagne. That same year, his Virgin Money teamed with U.S. billionaire investor Wilbur Ross in a deal worth $1.2 billion to bail out the U.K.'s nationalized Northern Rock, which collapsed in 2007 after a run on the bank.

Richard Branson gets the small forward position based on pure versatility, whether he needs to score, defend, or tackle different types of new markets, Branson has the prior experience and expertise to do so. With over 400 companies worldwide, Branson can essentially shoot from anywhere on the floor. 

Power Forward:
Narayana Murthy:
Estimated Net Worth: $1.4B
Company: Infosys 
Sales: $6.0billion 
MarketValue: $32billion 
Employees: 145,088 
Advice: Sacrifice today, cash in tomorrow.

Narayana Murthy

The power forward is integral to the success of the team. They usually have an extremely unique and specific skill set. In the world of basketball it’s rebounding, in the startup world and because we’re currently living in the age of information it is IT expertise and programming ability. 

In 1974, Narayana Murthy was a 28-year-old politically left-leaning engineer on his way home to India from France. During his journey on a train, he struck up a conversation with one of the passengers "about the travails of living in an Iron Curtain country." He says: "We were interrupted by some policemen who, I later gathered, were summoned by a young man who thought we were criticizing the Communist government of Bulgaria."

Murthy was dragged out of the train and left in a small room without food or water for 72 hours, then thrown back on another departing train and released in Istanbul. His treatment purged Murthy of any affinity he had for the left and would ultimately help make him one of India's and the world's most successful capitalists. If he was to be a reformer, he realized, it would have to be through a system that was rejected by the Communists.

He proved that India could compete with the world by taking on the software development work that had long been the province of the West. As one of six co-founders of Infosys and the CEO for 21 years, Murthy helped spark the outsourcing revolution that has brought billions of dollars in wealth into the Indian economy and transformed his country into the world's back office and has paved the way for Indians to dominate the IT industry.

His important lesson: An organization starting from scratch must coalesce around a team of people with an enduring value system. "It is all about sacrifice today, fulfillment tomorrow," explains Murthy, 65, who is now chairman emeritus. "It is all about sacrifice, hard work, lots of frustration, being away from your family, in the hope that someday you will get adequate returns from that." 

Estimated Worth: $500 M


Hailed as the King of America by Rolling Stones magazine, Shawn Corey Carter, better known as Jay-Z, is a 13 time Grammy winner and is regarded as one of the most successful men in music, as a rapper, record producer, club owner and all-around business mogul. Shawn’s father, Adnes Reeves, left the family when he was only 11 years old. Her mother took all the pain to raise the young rapper while living in Brooklyn's drug-infested Marcy Projects. The major turning point in his career came when he founded his own record company Roc-A-Fella Records in partnership with a couple of his friends, Damon Dash and Kareem Burke, in 1996.  Over the span of those years, the rapper released a slew of No. 1 albums and hit singles and is known as the "most successful entertainer of all time."

Beyond his innovation in music, the legendary rapper is equally known for his lifestyle businesses, starting with the launch of his signature street style clothing in 1999. Rocawear in collaboration with Rock-a-Fella now designs some of the fashion industry’s best jeans, footwear, sunglasses and accessories for both men and women. The artist also co-owns the 40/40 Club, an upscale sports bar that started in New York City and has since expanded to Atlantic City and Chicago. And, Jay-Z, along with his company SC Enterprises, has recently launched a new lifestyle site called Life And Times, making his foray into content. In terms of earnings he still reins over all other hip-hop stars and made a cool $37 million in 2011 in tours and other earnings. He also has a 10 year long $150 million deal with Live Nation records.

Jay-Z is easily the one person on this list that can effortlessly transcend all industries. His popularity and social clout allow him to be a spokesperson for any brand and any cause. Jay-Z also has the unparalleled ability, more so than probably anyone else on this list, to impel revenue driving consumer interaction through his multiple corporate sponsorships, licensing deals, and social influence. Because of this, Jay-Z is the center – the big guy who everyone else knows, respects, and needs to beware of. He’s the man who can easily shut competition down with his overall pop culture influence. He’s the definition of cool. 

Coming off the bench we have 
Jack Dorsey
6th Man
Estimated Net Worth $2.1B


The 6th man is your first player off the bench that brings a tremendous dose of fire power to your offense. In just a short time, Jack Dorsey has become a household name and built one of the largest social media platforms in the world in Twitter. But he didn’t just stop there. As a co-founder of Square, Dorsey is on a mission to make financial payments hassle free, accessible, and easier than ever before.

By the way, he’s still extremely young. At just 37 years of age, we can only wonder what other new ventures he has up his sleep that will change the world. And just recently, Dorsey was elected as a board director at Disney

Peter Thiel
Head Coach
Estimated Net Worth $2.2B

Fortune Brainstorm TECH 2012

Every dream team needs a coach to harness all the talent and lead it to battle and victory. With such an all star lineup, the coach would need to be someone who can draw out the complementary strengths from each player to minimize weaknesses while still retaining a fantastic sense of team chemistry. To fill this spot, it’s hard to find anyone else who is more capable than Peter Thiel.

Often known as the first outside investor in Facebook, Peter Thiel’s bold greatness started far before that. Thiel had graduated from Stanford for both his undergraduate and law degree. And from Stanford made numerous friendships and long lasting relationships which later came to be known as the PayPal mafia. These friends all were either co-founders or early employees of PayPal. Some of these friends included Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman (Founder of Linkedin), David Sacks (Founder of and Yammer), Steve Chen (Co-founder of YouTube), Jawed Karim (Co-Founder of YouTube), Chad Hurley (Co-Founder of YouTube), Russel Simmons (Co-Founder of Yelp), Premal Shah (Co-Founder of, and Yishan Wong (CEO of Reddit). In hindsight, It’s just mind boggling to know that PayPal, which Thiel founded, had this much talent on their roster. And somehow, Thiel was able to direct them all to success. If there were any qualms about his ability to manage a team, I think that mere fact puts them all to rest. 
After PayPal, Thiel founded Clarium Capital, one of the most successful hedge funds. After Clarium Capital, Thiel invested in Facebook. After that he founded Founders Fund with other partners including Sean Parker, Founder of Napster and President of Facebook. Through the Founders fund or angel investments, Thiel has invested in Booktrack, Slide, Linkedin, Friendster, Yammer,, Metamed, Quora, Stripe, Xero, and Palantir Technologies. 

As the recipient of Tech Crunch’s Crunchie award of 2013 for Venture Capitalist of the year, there’s no doubt that if you are ever looking for startup advice, help, or inspiration to keep moving and help change the world, Peter Thiel is your go-to man.

As you all venture forward in developing your own team whether in the corporate or startup world always keep in mind that assembling the right team is crucial. Assess potential candidates as if you’re building the perennial all-star dream team. Look to constructing a team with members that complement each other and fuel each other’s growth. And at its core, never forget to develop strong chemistry and an extraordinarily culture that keeps all members passionate about pursuing that one distant dream despite all setbacks, obstacles, and threats. As you progress, you’ll notice very quickly that your plans will change. As predicaments arise, and adversity must be faced, the business plan will be thrown out the window and pivots will need to be made. The only constant you possess to navigate these tough waters is your team. Rely on them as you would soldiers and over time, through trust, sacrifice, and execution you will reach the pinnacles of success.

Imagine a world where all of these superstar entrepreneurs worked together to solve a problem.

Or better yet, I propose to you a challenge – A challenge to build your dream team to solve the world’s next problem. To build an all-star cast to take your high potential startup to the next level. 

So the question remains, who is going to make the cut? 

Keep grinding my friends.