Robert Herjavec might not be running for office anytime soon, but his Shark Tank colleague Kevin O’Leary is — returning to his Canadian identification as a former “dragon” of the venture capital program Dragons’ Den. O’Leary referred to his old persona in a Reddit AMA last week, saying “Kevin ‘the Dragon’ went silent” the day he announced his intention to become leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
While Herjavec may be unique in sharing O’Leary’s resume points as both a former Dragon and current Shark, he once said in an interview that sharks have an edge over dragons. Speaking to U of T Magazine, the school of which he’s an alumnus, back in 2010, Herjavec said Shark Tank producer Mark Burnett made him think differently about the two fierce creatures.
“I loved the entire dragon imagery until I saw an interview with Mark Burnett, who produces ‘Shark Tank.’ They asked him, ‘Who would win in a fight, a dragon or a shark?’ And he basically said, in this incredulous tone, ‘Duh. Dragons aren’t real.’ Up until then I loved the dragon thing.”
Burnett apparently had a real aversion to the name Dragons’ Den. The Hollywood Reporter revealed back in 2014 that Burnett believed a name change was vital to bring the show, already successful in Japan, Canada, and other markets, to the United States. Like in other countries, it took a few seasons for the show to really gain traction with viewers.
Herjavec joked to U of T Magazine that an aggressive shark is more appropriate for American television than a mystical creature, the dragon, going so far as to say Canadians might prefer something more cute and cuddly.
“I think a mystical creature works for the Canadian market. But a shark is a mean, real, predatory animal, and that’s definitely more U.S. television. We don’t want sharks here. In fact, in Canada I’m surprised it’s not called the puppy tank. Or the puppy farm.”
Of course, that was back in 2010, and Dragons’ Den — which continues to be a staple of programming on the CBC — has had its share of dramatic moments. One classic moment featured O’Leary and Herjavec at what should have been a happy moment that concluded the signing of a Dragons’ Den deal. Instead, unexpected events resulted in Herjavec tearing up his own certified cheque in the boardroom, ending his investment.
Now in its eighth season, Shark Tank has a solid place in the Friday night ABC lineup. Last year it spawned a spinoff, Beyond the Tank, which provided lengthy updates about happened to entrepreneurs after they pitched the panel — regardless of whether or not they got a deal.
Herjavec and O’Leary have both parlayed their Shark Tank notoriety into other successful ventures. Herjavec made his fortune in cyber security, and Healthcare IT News reported last week that he and O’Leary will speak at a Florida conference associated with the publication. Herjavec told the magazine that cybersecurity is essential to healthcare organizations, and it often falls further down on the list of priorities than it should.
“[H]ealthcare providers have to prioritize a proactive approach to security – balancing people, process and technology to improve the protection of their informational assets and patient information.”
He made a similar comment last week to The Street, saying there is evidence cybersecurity is an issue affecting even the U.S. political process.
Robert Herjavec and Kevin O’Leary can still be seen each Friday night on ABC’s Shark Tank.
[Featured Image by John Sciulli/Getty Images]