Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year®
Media, Entertainment and Communications
Mike T. Fries
Growing up in a large family doesn’t necessarily prepare everyone for life as an entrepreneur. But for Mike Fries, growing up as one of eight children taught him at an early age how to bargain, negotiate and deliver on what he said.
That experience played a significant role in who he is and where he is today.Fries followed a somewhat linear career path to becoming President and CEO of the second-largest cable TV company in the world.
After graduating from Wesleyan University in Connecticut with a double major in Economics and Political Philosophy, he embarked on a career as an investment banker.
“Fortunately for me, I worked with some really great media/telecom businesses and some amazing CEOs, all of whom are entrepreneurs,” Fries says.
It was these relationships that proved pivotal as Fries took a leap of faith at the age of 27 to help co-found UnitedGlobalCom with four of these contacts. He put a lot on the line to go all in on the new global cable TV venture. He left his job at Paine Webber, passing on a $250,000 bonus in the process.
To come up with his stake in the new venture, Fries had to borrow money from his father.“I took a huge pay cut and moved out to Colorado to become the fifth employee of this company,” he says. “I have only had two jobs, and this one has been a long journey for sure. I would say the connection between the two [careers] is pretty clear.”