American Entrepreneur: The Fascinating Stories of the People Who Defined Business in the United States

By Larry Schweikart; Lynne Pierson Doti | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
Business in Renaissance:
1982–1989

In 2005, Craig McCaw, although uncomfortable in the public eye, stood by as his wife, Susan, was sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to Austria by the George W. Bush administration. Susan was a Stanford and Harvard grad, a former investment banker, and model-beautiful, too. But as Craig squirmed under the glare of cameras and attention, someone probably quipped, “Does anyone have a cell phone?” Because without the invention of the cell phone, the McCaws might not have been there. Second son of a flamboyant Seattle cable TV and radio promoter named Elroy McCaw, Craig grew up in comfort, attending the same private school as Bill Gates. McCaw was known to be extremely bright, but he was never very comfortable in social situations. Elroy died of a stroke when Craig was a nineteen-year-old sophomore at Stanford. While the lifestyle had been extravagant, the debts were huge. McCaw and his three brothers were left only with a modest cable business in Centralia, Washington, prompting Craig to start running the business from his dorm room. Delegating power to his employees, McCaw learned the business and focused on strategy. By the early 1970s, the company was worth $200 million. He moved into pager services, and at a trade association meeting of radio common carriers (RCC), he heard about a new technology called cellular communication.1

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