Thomas M. Rutledge was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He is the oldest of nine kids. His father worked in the insurance business and his job required the family to move around quite often. Thomas, known more as Tom, moved at the end of fourth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, beginning with Moline, Illinois and eventually settling in Pittsburgh.
Tom didn’t travel much as a child because, as he puts it, it was hard to fit 11 people in a station wagon to go anywhere. He was anxious to see the world and as soon as he graduated high school in 1971, he hitchhiked around Europe, Israel, and North America.
Tom Rutledge met his wife, Karen, at their high school in McMurray, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. They were reintroduced by Karen’s brother, a fellow college student of Tom’s and have been together ever since. They have two married children and six grandchildren.
After a couple of years of travelling and working odd jobs, Tom returned home when his father became terminally ill. A friend of his who worked in insurance put him in contact with a new, small cable company. Tom was one of the first employees and did manual labor, from climbing poles to building studios. Working for a cable company that was starting from the ground up gave him unique insight into the industry.
Tom worked partly through college, taking night classes, and then switched to fulltime. It took some time, but he graduated in 1977 from the California University of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics and a minor in history.
With his new degree in hand, Tom did not plan on continuing in the cable industry. But a unique opportunity presented itself that he was unusually qualified for. His time spent helping to establish the young cable company made him a prime candidate for a cable manager position with American Television Communications (ATC).
As a manager of ATC, Tom would go from city to city, convincing them to hire ATC to build their cable system. ATC grew to become Time Warner Cable, and Tom Rutledge grew with it. Along the way, Tom served as Chief Operating Officer at Cablevision Systems, where he worked again with a former colleague of ATC, John Bickham.
During that time, Time Warner Cable morphed into Charter Communications, the owner of Spectrum TV and Internet. In the beginning of 2012, Tom Rutledge became the CEO of Charter Communications, and remains in that position today.
Thomas Rutledge is the current Chairmen of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), and serves on the boards of CableLabs and C-SPAN. He received the NCTA’s Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership in 2011 and is a member of the Cable Hall of Fame and the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.
Today, Thomas Rutledge has an estimated net worth of over $125 million, with nearly 5,700 units of Charter Communications stock worth around $117 million. His annual income exceeds $8 million as Chairmen of the Board and CEO of Charter Communications.
He and his wife established the Karen and Tom Rutledge Institute for Childhood Education, giving $4.2 million to California University of Pennsylvania to support the foundation. The multi-million-dollar gift will support an innovative preschool on the university campus.