Cable Cowboy

John Malone and the Rise of the Modern Cable Business

by Mark Robichaux ⚡

I discovered this title after listening to a podcast with Stripe's Patrick Collison where it was mentioned.

Cable Cowboy tells the story of John Malone, who helped build TCI and Liberty Media into the multi-billion-dollar companies they turned into.

I knew less than nothing about the cable industry before going into this, but I think it'd be fair to say that cable changed the world by providing high bandwidth infrastructure that enabled the internet boom in the late 90's and through the 00's.

This book is interesting not only for the thoughts on modern infrastructure, but in how much of the business tactics used back then are still applicable today. Cable was not a friendly industry. Actions taken by cable execs in the 70's and 80's can easily be compared to the actions taken by companies like Uber when trying to enter and dominate a local market.

Cable Cowboy also ended up being an interesting history lesson for me, showing the breakup of Ma Bell and the subsequent consolidation that took part with the various Baby Bells that leave the US with it's current 3-player system (AT&T, Verizon & CenturyLink).

You're unlikely to come away from this liking John Malone, but you'll definitely respect his business savvy and intelligence. I highly recommend reading this book.