Interview Date: November 30, 2017
Interview Location: New York, NY USA
Interviewer: Seth Arenstein
Collection: Cable Center Oral History Program
Seth ARENSTEIN: Hi, I’m Seth Arenstein, for the Hauser Oral History Project for The Cable Center. We’re here in New York City. It’s November 30th, 2017. And we’re joined by the executive chairman of ARRIS International, Bob Stanzione. Bob, welcome.
Robert J. STANZIONE: Thank you, Seth.
ARENSTEIN: Good to have you here.
STANZIONE: I’m happy to be here.
ARENSTEIN: All right. So tell us — let’s begin your story at the beginning. Where were you born and where did you go to grammar school?
STANZIONE: OK. Well, here we are in New York, and that’s where I started.
STANZIONE: I was born in the Bronx, a little bit north of here. My grandparents were immigrants from Italy, and my parents were born in the US. And I went through first grade in the Bronx, in the public schools. And then through a job change that happened with my dad we moved to Virginia and subsequently to South Carolina, where I went to junior high and high school and went to college in South Carolina, at Clemson University — national champions right now.
STANZIONE: Football, right. Yes. Very proud of that.
ARENSTEIN: Yeah, because, I mean, you don’t have a Bronx accent, Bob.
STANZIONE: No, I don’t. Somewhere along the way I lost that.
ARENSTEIN: (laughs) Yes. I would say it’s South Bronx. No, no, no — really — the Deep South.
ARENSTEIN: I always think of you as a Southern guy. I mean, Clemson and North Carolina and everything.
STANZIONE: That’s right. That’s right, I do — my heart is in the South.
ARENSTEIN: OK. But born in the Bronx.
ARENSTEIN: So it’s good to be home. What did you study in college?
STANZIONE: I studied engineering. I was a mechanical engineering major, and I had always wanted to be an engineer. My dad was in the manufacturing business during his career. He passed away when I was a freshman at college. And I finished up at Clemson, and I went to work in the Bell System for a long period of time. During that period of time I went back to school and at night and got a Master of Engineering degree at NC State University.
ARENSTEIN: Do you root for them too or just Clemson?
STANZIONE: No, I don’t. (laughter) No, I don’t. You can only have one.
ARENSTEIN: It’s always interesting to know, like the graduate and undergraduate, which one do you, you know…
STANZIONE: No, it’s Clemson through and through.
ARENSTEIN: OK. You know, people watching this even now — young people watching this — and even years from now, when you mentioned the Bell System, they’re going to go, “What’s that?” Why don’t you tell us what the Bell System was when you walked in the door?
STANZIONE: So I graduated from college in 1969. And at that time the Bell System ran the entire communications systems in the United States. It consisted of the Bell telephone companies as well as Bell Laboratories, the long lines, long-distance business, as well as a company called Western Electric, which was the manufacturing arm of the Bell System. And that’s where I began my career was in manufacturing. And during that period of time I believe the Bell System had over a million employees across the country. In the late 1970s an antitrust suit was brought forth, and the Bell System was broken up, beginning in 1984. And at that point I stayed with the manufacturing side of AT&T — it was called AT&T Network Systems — and worked there for a total of about 26 years.
ARENSTEIN: And what did you do at AT&T?
STANZIONE: One of the great things about working at AT&T in a big company like that was that you could change jobs and gain experience in different facets of the business without changing companies. And so I was privileged to be able to do that, although it was a bit of a burden on my family. I should talk a little bit about my family right here at the beginning.
ARENSTEIN: Sure. Absolutely.
STANZIONE: I met my wife Kaye in junior high school, down in South Carolina. And we got married while I was in college. And so when I joined AT&T in 1969, we began a period of time where we were moving a lot. People don’t do that so much anymore. But in the ’70s and ’80s it was quite common for employees of large corporations to be moved from location to location. So during the 26 years that we were in AT&T, Kaye and I and our three children moved 11 times from one place to another. And they were tremendously supportive of that, and I’m very fortunate that I had such a supportive cast around me during that period of time.
ARENSTEIN: That’s nice. And so what — again, what sorts of things were you doing at AT&T?
STANZIONE: Well, you know, one — I was in manufacturing, so we were manufacturing things for the Defense Department initially. And then printed circuit boards and devices, hybrid integrated circuits, which aren’t used very much anymore. But towards the end of that period of time, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, I became associated with the cable industry. There was a skunkworks project going on at Bell Labs in Merrimack Valley. I had been transferred up to Merrimack Valley, north of Boston, in 1989, and I inherited a skunkworks project called Laser Link. This is where I became acquainted with the cable industry. I was fascinated by it and kind of fell in love with it. At the time that wasn’t a very popular thing within AT&T, because we were serving primarily the Bell telephone companies, and they viewed the cable industry as sort of a competitor and not up to snuff in terms of the reliability of the network that they had at the time. But I met some very interesting people in those last years that I spent at AT&T Network Systems. John Egan is a person that was very instrumental in my life, and he was the CEO of a company called ANTEC. And because AT&T did not want to sell Laser Link directly to the cable companies they used ANTEC as a distributor to sell to the cable companies. And that’s where I met John Egan, who, again, was very instrumental in what happened to me subsequent to this. I also met people like John Malone and J.C. Sparkman and Larry Romrell, and others, people that were kind of the titans of the industry at the time. And I was sort of the — a junior executive at AT&T. And I was one of the few people at AT&T that had any interest or knowledge of what was going on in the cable industry. So those were some pretty heady days for me. And it kind of set me on a path that brought me to where I am today.
ARENSTEIN: And what fascinated you about the cable industry? I guess meeting John Malone would be one thing (laughs) for sure!
STANZIONE: Well, I’ll tell you, I’ll never forget the meeting we had with John Malone at Bell Labs at Murray Hill. We were preparing for his visit, and I looked at his biography, and I found out that he had worked for Bell Labs at one time. And so we dug through the archives and we found a document that he had authored. I think the title of it was something like “Profit Optimization in a Regulated Industry.” Oy. (laughter) Was that a preview of what was to come. So, you know, we went through that, and I became more and more interested in what was going on in the cable industry. Because things were happening fast in the cable industry. In those days, the late ’80s, early ’90s, we were just beginning to deploy fiber optics. I met the engineering head at Time Warner Cable at the time, Jim Chiddix —
ARENSTEIN: Yeah, sure.
STANZIONE: — and Jim bought our first Laser Link and deployed hybrid fiber-coax for the first time in Orlando, Florida. Jim subsequently won an Emmy award, a technical Emmy award. And that Laser Link that we built at Merrimack Valley I think is on the wall in his office right now. So again, another one of the industry leaders that I met during those days.
ARENSTEIN: Wow. What in particular, though, was fascinating about the cable industry at that point? You said it was moving very fast. What did you see as its potential? Why were you so anxious to get in there?
STANZIONE: Right. So as I said, this was sort of a skunkworks at AT&T, at Bell Labs. And I had an organization that covered a lot of different facets, and this was just one of them. And we were working on access technology, the last mile, the technology for delivering video, voice, and subsequently data services over that last mile. And so we were working with the telephone companies — we were working with Deutsche Telekom over in Germany on fiber-to-the-home technology. And I had the privilege, again, of having some very, very smart people and we did a study, looking at the potential for network evolution of these various different technologies. Now, this is early ’90s. And we were looking at fiber to the home; we were looking at hybrid fiber-coax; we were looking at switched digital video technologies. And I realized, based on those studies, that hybrid fiber-coax, although at the time was very new and certainly fiber to the home was the headline product, but this hybrid fiber-coax thing looked to me like the most graceful and economical way to expand a network. Now, at that time, it was mostly a one-way network. And there wasn’t much telemetry in the network. In those days when cable went out, the way the cable company found out about it was their customers would call and say, “My cable’s out.” Things have changed a lot since then. And now we’ve got this wonderful two-way communication system. But I could see that that was the way to go. And in fact during that period of time — this is a funny story — an interesting story — I think, from my point of view as to what’s happened in my career — at that time there was a company called General Instrument that was one of the primary vendors to the cable industry. I became acquainted with General Instrument through the specification-setting negotiations for high-definition television. This all was happening in the early ’90s — digital television, high-definition television. And I was involved in that and met these people at General Instrument. At the time General Instrument had gone private, and they were about to do an IPO. And I suggested to AT&T that we acquire General Instrument into AT&T Network Systems. I said, “This is a transmission technology, and it would be a great asset for AT&T to own.” Well, that didn’t go very far. I took the proposal to my boss, he took it to his boss, it stopped there, and that was that. Many, many years later, in 2013, as the CEO of ARRIS at the time, we bought General Instrument. And the way it happened was that — I’m skipping forward now —
ARENSTEIN: That’s OK.
STANZIONE: — twenty years — but the way it happened was that in 2013 Google purchased Motorola, or the part of Motorola that made telephones as well — or cell phones — as well as the Motorola Home business, which was the old General Instrument corporation. Google bought that because they wanted the patents. And so they sold off the Motorola Home, which was General Instrument, and we bought that. So 20 years — it took 20 years to do it, but persistence pays off. Persistence.
ARENSTEIN: You know, it’s interesting, though, Bob, when you say that you looked at the potential of the industry and you saw tremendous potential, you saw the future. It’s funny, because, you know, I always ask people with these oral histories, “When — you know, when you were — back in the day, when you were doing all these things, did you see ahead?” And most of the time, the answer’s no. But here, you know, we have an example where you say, “I’m looking ahead, I’m looking out, and I saw this potential, and that’s where I wanted to move.” So that’s kind of an interesting wrinkle that we don’t normally get here.
STANZIONE: Well, it was. As I said before, I had the pleasure of working with some very, very smart people in Bell Laboratories. And I don’t take credit for figuring all that out. But I saw it happen. The work was done. And it was clear to me that it was possible to have this network evolve into something that it wasn’t at the time. This coaxial cable and this fiber out to a node could do two-way communications reliably. And in fact that’s what kind of brought me over the fence back in 1995.
ARENSTEIN: OK. So let’s move to the — I guess the early 2000s, and — or even late 1999 here — 1998 you become president and CEO of ANTEC.
STANZIONE: Well, right before that, what happened was two companies got together — Nortel Networks and ANTEC — John Egan again and a Nortel Networks executive, Ian Craig, had formed a friendship and a partnership. And they wanted to start a company that would focus on the cable industry. And here again Nortel, similar to AT&T Network Systems, wasn’t that familiar with the cable industry. So they decided to join forces, because ANTEC did have that familiarity and relationship with the industry. And they decided to form a company, and I was recruited to be the first CEO of that company. The company at the time was called joint venture something. It had no name. And one of the first things we did was come up with a name for the company, and the name we came up with was ARRIS. We looked — we did a search, we hired a firm to help us look at various names, and this name ARRIS popped up. And the word “arris” means something. It’s a word that means “the intersection of two planes to form a sharp edge.” And I thought, “What better name for a company that was a joint venture of Nortel Networks and ANTEC, two companies coming together with leading-edge technology.” And so the name stuck. And here we are. At that point I was named CEO of ARRIS, and Nortel named the CFO of the company, Dave Potts. And Dave has become, first of all, just a world-class CFO of ARRIS International now, the public company, and also a dear friend of mine. So we’ve worked together for 20 years, and I give him a lot of credit for everything that’s happened — all the good things that have happened during that period of time. So that was 1995. It was a radical idea at the time that a cable operator could deliver reliable telephone service.
STANZIONE: Because at the time, let’s face it, the reliability of the industry wasn’t that good, and it was primarily a one-way broadcast system. It was CATV — community antenna television — is what it was. But we could see that it would work, and it could work very economically, and it could be an addition to the video services that were being provided. So we came up with a product. We called it Cornerstone Voice. And we sold it all over the world. We sold it, of course, in the United States, but also in Japan and Europe. And it was a success. But we could see that things were going to change pretty fast. Three years later I was asked to move up to the parent company, ANTEC, and I became the chief operating officer and the president of ANTEC working for John. And I stayed on the board of ARRIS LLC during that period of time. And then we had the 2000 and 2001 bubble burst in the telecommunications industry, where everything just fell apart. And so did our business, as a matter of fact. I was president of ANTEC, and Nortel wanted to dissolve the joint venture and sell their interest in it. So with the help of a lot of people, including our lead attorney, Larry Margolis, we figured out a way that we could buy Nortel’s interest in ARRIS out. We were able to accomplish that in 2001. And we bought their 80% interest in the LLC. We went deeply into debt to do that. We issued a lot of stock to do that. And we renamed ANTEC ARRIS. And that’s kind of the tortuous adventure that we went through where ANTEC became ARRIS. It was through that acquisition, and we renamed ANTEC ARRIS as a public company.
ARENSTEIN: OK. You know, there’s one thing that we haven’t really talked about, and I do want to discuss it a little bit. Your training is in engineering, and now, though, as you have told us here, you’ve moved into the boardroom. Now, I know, I see on your resume here that there were some courses that you took and things like that. How did you get ready, or how did you train yourself to move from the engineering side on to the management side?
STANZIONE: Well, I probably had to because I wasn’t a very good engineer. (laughter) I always had this very high interest in business. And I wanted to know about business. I wanted to know what made a business run. And so even in my very first jobs as an engineer at Western Electric, I wanted to know what happened to the product after we built it and shipped it. I wanted to know what the effect was on the profitability of the business. And so I was — I was always pecking away at that. And one of the roles I played eventually was to become a product manager and learned how to run a product line and understand things like profit and loss. And you just have to run a business in a profitable way. You can’t lose money for very long, right? And I learned about balance sheets and cash flow and those sorts of things. I did take courses in that. I went to school at night — again, at University of Richmond. I went to Babson College for courses. And even went to Switzerland for a period of time to study over there. And so I just had this broad interest in business and economics and how companies become successful. And quite honestly, along the way I learned about failures too. I saw a lot of failures; in fact, the two companies I’ve mentioned a lot here, AT&T Network Systems — which eventually became Lucent — is no more. And Nortel Networks is no more. And, you know, I learned some wonderful, wonderful things about business from being part of those organizations. Learned a lot of things not to do.
ARENSTEIN: Can you give me an example?
STANZIONE: Well, I think humility is a trait that one has to have. I mean, we serve our customers. And the slogan that I’ve applied at ARRIS consistently has been “The customer comes first, no matter what.” If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business. And we were serving an industry that was quite demanding. And there were other people who wanted to serve that industry. So it was very competitive. It has been very competitive, and it is intensely competitive, even today. And so if you don’t serve the customer and look out for the best interests of the customer, you’re not going to have a business, eventually. So I think just focusing on customers. And just not getting too bigheaded about your success. I think that happened especially in the late ’90s and early 2000 period of time, when there was just a gold rush going on. And people thought that this telecommunications industry was going to just grow to the sky. And we had a big comeuppance, if you will, during that period of time. So I think just focus on customers. Hubris is a bad thing. I think when you start to think you’re smart, that’s when somebody’s going to prove you wrong. And so this — paranoia is a good trait.
ARENSTEIN: OK. So let’s talk about the ARRIS years, let’s say beginning around 2000 — or maybe even a little bit later — 2003? You’re named chairman as well as president and CEO of the ARRIS Group. And then there are a fair amount of acquisitions. Tell us about the thinking behind acquisitions of — of what, C-COR and Tandberg Television?
STANZIONE: Yeah, and even before —
ARENSTEIN: Whole bunch of them.
STANZIONE: — even before that. In that period of time, the technology was changing also. Our Cornerstone Voice product had been successful. However, it was what’s called circuit-switched technology. And circuit-switched technology was giving way to voice over IP. And we knew that if we didn’t reengineer the company quickly that we could fall by the wayside because technology would leave us behind. So during that period of time — you know, sometimes you’re lucky. And I’ve had more than my share of good luck along the way. We came across this company called Cadent. It was a startup company in Lisle, Illinois. Also led by some former Bell Labbers who had left Bell Labs Indian Hill and had gone to work in this startup company. And they came up with this product called the Cadent CMTS — cable modem terminating system. It was used for providing cable modem or high-speed internet service. And we got a good deal. We bought — we were able to buy that company — even though we were deeply in debt at the time, we were able to do that. And I think that move alone kind of saved our company, because it moved us from this circuit-switch realm into the realm of internet protocol. At the same time, we had to sell off a bunch of businesses in order to generate the cash we needed in order to make this move into IP. So we sold our power supply business; we sold a consulting business that we had; and we sold our transmission business. Interestingly, I compete with that business now, because we’re back in it. But that was a game changer. That little joint venture — or little startup company — that we bought out of Lisle, Illinois — I think it had 40 or 50 people at the time has evolved into the industry leading cable modem terminating system company in the world. Our market share now exceeds that of our closest competitor. I am so very proud of that group of people and that move. Subsequent to that, we did other acquisitions because we realized the industry was consolidating. The companies were buying one another. Our customers were buying one another. Comcast was of course the most aggressive during those days and bought AT&T Broadband, which was originally TCI. At that time Comcast canceled all our Cornerstone Voice orders. And so we were in big of trouble. But we worked our way through that, through this period of time, and we realized that given what was happening in the industry — not only the technology changing, but the landscape in the industry was changing dramatically with these consolidations that were going on — that we had to either get bigger or we had to become part of something bigger. We chose the get bigger. And so that kind of set us on a path of continuing to develop things internally. For example, Bruce McClelland, my successor as the CEO of ARRIS, at the time was running part of the business, and he started our cable modem business, which has prospered through the years. We also looked outside and did a number of acquisitions during those years. We bought a company called C-COR. They put us back in the transmission business. And we did other acquisitions along the way — several small ones. But then the big one came in 2013. And that was what I referred to earlier, was when Google decided to divest the Motorola Home business. And that kind of put us in a good place.
ARENSTEIN: Talk about that one. Let’s jump to that one.
STANZIONE: Well, it was shocking, really, that Google would buy Motorola. After all, Motorola was a company that made cellular phones and made hardware for the cable industry, and why would they want to do that? And the answer was that there was a feeding frenzy for patents. We were in a period where patents were valued very highly, and there was a lot of litigation going on. And I think that Google came to the conclusion, and I’m not speaking for Google, but I think they came to the conclusion that the patents that Motorola had in the cell phone area particularly were very valuable. And so they bought the company. They subsequently sold the Home business to us, and they sold the cellular phone business, eventually, to Lenovo, a Chinese company. So now they still have those patents. Anyway, we went through a process. Again, there was competition to buy the company. At the time the ability to borrow money was good. You know, 2013 was a good year in terms of interest rates being low and banks willing to back us. And so we borrowed a lot of money, and we were able to win that auction, if you will, to buy Motorola Home. And it has really returned a good bit to our shareholders. It has really enhanced the value of the company considerably. And it allowed us to make subsequent acquisitions — for example, two years later, we bought Pace. And Pace is a company that was doing similar things that we were, and through consolidation, economies of scale, were able to bring costs down, take costs out of the business, and remain competitive, which is what we have to do. It also brought with us more of this transmission technology through an acquisition that they had made of a company called Aurora. And the combination of what we got from C-COR and what we got from Aurora has put us in a pretty good position there. And I think as the industry continues to evolve toward fiber deeper, closer to the home, or fiber to the home over this HFC network, I think we’re in a good position to prosper as we go forward.
ARENSTEIN: ARRIS, as you said, when it opened the doors there was nothing, and now — tell us about ARRIS. Tell us ARRIS International.
STANZIONE: How it became ARRIS International?
STANZIONE: Well, that’s a good question. As I said earlier, we knew we had to be bigger or become part of something bigger. And we noted that there are more people that live outside the United States than live inside the United States, and they like to talk to one another and communicate with one another too. So we’ve built a pretty strong international part of our business. And we did that — beginning in Japan, I guess, was one of our first international customers. Again, back in the ’90s, there were a lot of investments by US companies in Japan and in Europe, in the UK in particular. And we kind of followed them over there and began doing business there. And it’s evolved to the point today where about a third of our sales are outside the United States. And we’re doing a lot of business in Europe, a lot of business in Asia, Australia has been a strong market for us, and a lot in Latin America. And so we are truly an international company. And one of the things that we did was with the acquisition of Pace, we did an inversion. An inversion is a re-domiciling of the company in the UK. So we’re actually officially, although our operational headquarters is in Atlanta, our official headquarters is in the UK. And so we’re truly an international company.
ARENSTEIN: What is the — what are some of the challenges of managing an international company?
STANZIONE: Culture. In fact, culture’s the challenge of managing anything. I was at a meeting recently of a company that had just combined two companies, and that’s what everybody’s talking about: how do the cultures match up? And so you have to have these guiding values, and, you know, you have to realize that cultures are different in different countries. What motivates people and what’s important is different. And how people act and treat one another is different in different companies. But some things are just fundamental. Respect, teamwork, keeping an eye on the goal are universal. And so the challenge is communicating with those folks. I mean, if you think about a group over in China or in India or in Europe or in Israel or in Argentina, how do you — how do you communicate? Fortunately, we’re in the communications business. And we use things like video conferencing and that sort of thing. But also trying to — one of the challenges of being the leader of an international company is being physically there. And that is an important part of it. People want to know who you are and what you stand for, and they want to be reminded of that, I think, from time to time. They want to be successful. People want to be part of something that’s successful. And I think they’re willing to work hard. People are willing to work hard if they’re part of something that’s successful and they’re proud of.
ARENSTEIN: So there was a lot of travel involved in that for you, I would assume.
STANZIONE: Yes. There was a lot of travel.
ARENSTEIN: And any particular country that you really liked going to?
STANZIONE: No. I don’t think there was one that stood out. I have been so fortunate to have met people all over the world that some I still stay in touch with. But to actually work with and interface with and go out to dinner with and people from all different cultures and parts of the world has been one of the pleasures of the job. You know, it’s not fun getting on an airplane and traveling for 20 hours to get someplace. But when you get there, it’s just wonderful. Recent trip I made was to India and met with our employees over in India. And just what a wonderful group of people.
ARENSTEIN: You know, I can’t let you go here, Bob, without asking you what you see coming for this industry, or, to even make it more general, coming into the home. You know, you talked about back in the late ’80s, early ’90s, looking out and seeing that there’s this thing called the cable industry, and you wanted to get in there, and you could envision what was happening or what was going to come. So, what’s coming?
STANZIONE: What’s coming? Well, that’s the $64 question, isn’t it?
ARENSTEIN: Exactly. (laughs)
STANZIONE: You know, it’s hard to say. We’re always surprised. And I think one of the things that is an ingredient to success is being ready for the surprise. Just be ready for something you just don’t know is going to happen. And I’ve seen so many things happen that weren’t anticipated. And so in order to prosper in that kind of an environment, you just have to be on your tiptoes at all times. But to answer your question, what’s coming, I think mobility is key to everything. I think in just a couple of years, probably half the traffic on the network is going to be video traffic, and it’s going to be delivered to a mobile device of one type or another. It’s already heading in that direction very fast. And so I think that there’ll be continued changes in the makeup of the telecommunications industry, where cable companies may get into cellular services — in fact, they’re already doing it. And we’ll have to provide the technology. One of the trends that I don’t think is going to stop is that traffic on the network has been growing at a breathtaking rate. It’s been growing at 40%, 50% a year, which means that every 18 months the amount of traffic doubles. And so imagine if the traffic out on those streets doubled every 18 months or two years. It would choke. And the reason we’re able to cope with that is the technology continues to improve, and we’re able to squeeze more and more traffic through the same network. And so I think that what we’ll see over the coming years is gigabit speeds delivered to homes and businesses, and I think people will find uses for it. You know, the smartphone is only 10 years old, a little over 10 years old. The tablets are around that same age. We didn’t see that coming. And so who knows what comes next. I think things like virtual reality will become a reality. Right now I don’t think we’ve really found the sweet spot for the use of virtual reality. But I think we will. One of the things that we’ve got to do is kind of match the Wi-Fi speeds to the speed of the network over to the side of the home. So if you got a gigabit coming to the side of the home, what do you do with that inside the home? We need to come up with ways of improving Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the home so that when you put on a virtual reality set you don’t have an HDMI cord hanging off of it. You can do that wirelessly. And we also have to have enough bandwidth coming to that so that you don’t get seasick when you are enjoying your virtual reality experience. In order to do that it just takes more and more bandwidth. Things like artificial intelligence are — you know, these are things that have been talked about for a long time, and they are — they’re really happening. We’ll have machines talking to machines. We’ll have people talking to machines. I think those are the kind of things that are exciting and will continue to stress the networks, and technology will solve those bottlenecks.
ARENSTEIN: You’re not worried about the network getting — as you say, getting choked?
STANZIONE: No, I’m not. I think that we’ve got things — we are — our company, our customers, our competitors — we’re all working on ways to open up the network using new technologies. We’re now deploying things like DOCSIS 3.1, which, again, just another step in the evolution of that HFC infrastructure. We’re looking at or we’re doing a lot more fiber to the home. And I think the economics of those things are improving to the extent that we can deploy them.
ARENSTEIN: Bob, are there people — you mentioned a whole bunch of people. You mentioned Jim Chiddix and others. Are there other people that you look to as great influencers for you over your career?
STANZIONE: Well, gee whiz. Uh, I almost hesitate to start listing names, because —
ARENSTEIN: Because you’ll leave somebody out.
STANZIONE: — I’ll probably leave somebody out, but, you know, I give a lot of credit to one of my old bosses at Bell Labs, Bob Sanferrare, who was a person that really encouraged me in my career — supported the skunkworks that I was involved in that kind of led me here. And I’ve mentioned John Egan and — you know, I’ve got some wonderful board members that have been great mentors and advisors. Alex Best, who’s the former CTO at Cox Cable, is a guy that I admire a lot and has been a great advisor to me. Gosh, I could go on and on. Most of all I give credit to my wife, though. She’s a fabulous woman. We’ve been married — if we can make it another month, it’ll be 49 years.
STANZIONE: And she’s always been there. And been very supportive of all these crazy things that I’ve done.
ARENSTEIN: What is — what’s something that you’re most proud of in terms of technology and cable and — you know, to me, I think one of the big untold stories — although the people in cable know it — but untold in a general public way is this whole infrastructure that cable set up that now is the — is the foundation for so much — maybe everything in this country. Is that something that you’re — and you’ve played a big part in that.
STANZIONE: Well, I played a part.
ARENSTEIN: Is that your legacy?
STANZIONE: I wouldn’t say it was a big part. It was a part.
STANZIONE: I was there.
ARENSTEIN: You were there.
STANZIONE: I was there when it happened. And I think that this development of hybrid fiber-coax is probably the turning point that happened back in the late ’80s, early ’90s. And I’m proud that I was involved with that. But I guess when I look back also, I’m just so proud of what ARRIS has become. Starting out with two companies supporting us, but with nothing. You know, we started with zero sales. And we’ve built it into a $7 billion public company with just a lot of great people in it. And I have to say, I’m so proud of the team that is leading the company now. I’m phasing out. And we’ve got a great leader in Bruce McClelland. And the team that we’ve put together as the supporting cast for Bruce and the leadership of the company is, I think, the best of the best. And I believe that deeply, because I can point to the reason for it. When we were ARRIS before the Motorola Home acquisition, we were a good company. We were a strong company. We were highly regarded in the industry. We bought Motorola Home, who were a strong company. And then we bought Pace. And we’ve got these three companies that had some of the best leaders in the industry, and we’ve taken the best of the best and formed the leadership of ARRIS. So I think ARRIS is on a path to continue to prosper. And I think in a few days we’ll be closing our latest acquisition, which is the acquisition of Ruckus Wireless from Brocade. And that will add another dimension to the company. And I think the company has to keep moving in that direction, keep changing, you know, don’t look back; look forward. And I think that there’s a lot more to come.
ARENSTEIN: So let’s look ahead with Bob Stanzione. What’s ahead for you?
STANZIONE: What’s ahead for me? Well, I am, again, just privileged to be able to stay involved with ARRIS. But I don’t have to work as hard as I used to. And that’s the great part about it. You know, I just am not doing as much traveling as I did before. I’m not the CEO anymore, and the company’s in good hands. And they’ve given me the opportunity to remain involved as the executive chairman, and I can offer advice and participate in decision-making in the company, but I don’t have to work so darn hard. So I’ve taken up some new things. We bought a farm. And I’m doing things I never dreamed I would do. You know, boy from the Bronx owning a farm is kind of a leap. It took a long time for that to happen. But we’ve got this land in Georgia, not far outside of Atlanta, and we’ve got some horses, and we just acquired some cows, so I’m now raising cattle. I’m not doing the work, though. I’m providing the land and the financing, and I’ve got some great partners working with me. So we’re going to do that, see how that works out for a while. And I also have just a wonderful, wonderful family that I’m surrounded with. We’ve got three great kids, two daughters and a son, all married. We have 12 grandchildren. And that keeps us —
ARENSTEIN: That will keep you busy.
STANZIONE: — pretty busy.
ARENSTEIN: They could work on the farm.
STANZIONE: I’m not sure they’re up for that.
ARENSTEIN: When they get older.
STANZIONE: We’ll see what happens.
ARENSTEIN: All right. You know, I hesitate to mention, because I know you’re a modest guy, but there are so many awards here. Is there one that stands out for you? I know there’s a Vanguard, there’s the Cable TV Pioneers, the Cable Hall of Fame…any of them stand out in particular for you as particularly significant?
STANZIONE: Well, there are a couple. I mean, the Hall of Fame was a highlight for me. There are only about 100 people that have achieved the Hall of Fame designation — just over 100. And to be one of 100 people in an industry like this that has been given that honor is just unbelievable. It’s a night I’ll never forget. The whole family was there and we enjoyed that a lot. Because the kids never really knew what I did. You know, they would always say, “What do you do, Dad?” I said, “Well, I go to meetings, I get on airplanes, and that sort of thing.” But they got to meet a number of the people in the industry that I deal with, and that was an honor. And also, I guess one other I’d like to point out is my university honored me a couple years ago with being designated as a member of the Thomas Green Clemson Engineering Society, which is something that is one of the highest honors of the Clemson School of Engineering. As I said, I’m not much of an engineer. But that was a big honor. And a really neat thing about it was that my brother Dan, who’s a couple years older than I, had been honored with that same designation a few years before I was. And we’re the only brothers that have ever achieved that. So I’m very proud of him, and — gosh, I should have mentioned him along the way as one of the people that’s had a great influence on me.
ARENSTEIN: How did he influence you? What did he do?
STANZIONE: Well, he led the way. I mean, he is my older brother. I’m second of five, and Dan was the number one. He went to Clemson. I followed him to Clemson. I actually joined the Bell System before he did because he remained in school longer than I did and achieved his PhD. He became the president of Bell Laboratories. He is just a fabulous person and has achieved a lot of great success in business. And it was good — a good period. This is where the name thing comes in, by the way —
ARENSTEIN: Yes, right. You said that.
STANZIONE: Because it’s funny that at the beginning of this interview you asked how to pronounce my last name, and I said, “Stan-zee-o-nee.” And my brother pronounces it “Stan-zee-own.” And we have argued about that for years and years, decades. And I still contend I’m closer to the right pronunciation.
ARENSTEIN: Yes, you are, you are.
ARENSTEIN: Having lived in Italy, I can say you definitely are. (laughter) No question about it. Well, Bob, thank you so much. This has been a pleasure.
END OF INTERVIEW