“Career Is Lifetime long”
－－Interview with an Investment Banker “事业是终生的事”——投资银行家专访
Zhao Wei: I have heard that you took a very active part in the Silicon Valley boom. After the burst of Dot-com bubble, how do you think the future of IT industry?
Carleton Ruthling: I was fortunate to help a company called @Home Network grow. This was an important company since it started the broadband revolution that eventually spread around the world. Recall at that time you could only get broadband service from the telephone company, e.g. getting a T1 line which would cost you ＄3,000/month. We offered a similar service using cable modems partnering with the cable companies for only ＄39/month, so consumers loved it but the phone companies saw us a threat. By the time I left the company in early 2000, our subscribers swelled to 4 million which produced ＄2.4 billion in annual revenue.
Despite some of the bizarre and doomed to failure companies that most people are aware of, there were some very good companies that were born, e.g. Yahoo, Ebay, Paypal... and good products. One of those was broadband. I do not think there will be another boom like we had before. The IT industry will grow and continue to offer better services and products to consumers and businesses for less money. Technology will likely return to the way it used to be where technology and the engineers who developed the technology will be less important than the sales department, business department, legal department, etc. I suggest only go into IT if you enjoy it and not to get rich quick. But if you enjoy it, then, by all means go for it.
Zhao: Now you are working as an investment banker, how about your current work?
Carleton Ruthling: For over a year and a half I have joined with two other investment bankers and we provide financial advisory services in Asia via a company named Constellation Resources. We focus on the media and communications sector as our knowledge for these areas is our strength. Most of our work is in Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore. More recently we have had more business coming from China mainland, especially in the cable TV and online services areas.
Zhao: Many young people are seeking for the most flourishing and the most potential industry nowadays. Could you give them some advice?
Carleton Ruthling: Probably many of your readers would like to know the answer to this question so they can study and work in those areas. I have two responses. First, a career is lifetime long and generally areas are only “flourishing” for a few years. Since everyone is trying to figure out what will be hot, most people come to the same conclusion and the area that once was hot is now crowded with many folks all chasing the “hot” area. The Internet was hot for about 4 years. People abandoned their careers as lawyers, doctors, accountants to go into the Internet. And when it was no longer viable, many of them got stuck and had to restart their careers. Second, it is far better to pursue an area that you are interested in and motivated by. If you have an interest in the area, then, you naturally will work harder and do a better job and thus be more successful. There is another side effect also: you will enjoy your work.
Zhao: Could you talk about your life in Beijing? Which aspect, the ancient or the modern one of Beijing, is most attractive to you?
Carleton Ruthling: I’ve been in Beijing for 3 years. I enjoy Beijing very much. Yes, the modern development is attractive, but I think what I like is the ancient aspect of Beijing. That’s one part. The other part is that Beijing is the natural reflections of every culture in China. It can represent all the China. And also, China has been growing so quickly, not just its building. Think back 7 years ago, during the winter time, which kind of vegetable did you have? I remember it only had winter cabbages, right? Now, you can get any kind of vegetables that you can imagine. The fundamental things are also going on. If you took somebody 6 years ago and put him in today, he will be shocked. But in other countries in the world, 6 years would not have many changes. I’m very interested to watch the changes in Beijing.