The History of Carlyle

Question: Why did you found Carlyle?

Transcript:Well, I can’t say that I was that prescient to say 20 years ago that I knew private equity would become what it has become. In fact the phrase “private equity” had not been invented in 1987 when I started Carlyle. I had been practicing law for a number of years in Washington as I had for a number of years in New York earlier before I went to the White House. In both cases I didn’t find that I had a passion for the law, and therefore I didn’t think I would be great at it. And I wasn’t going to be an Edward Bennett Williams or Arthur Liman or some other great lawyer. In my view to be great in anything you have to love what you’re doing. You have to wanna do it regardless of the compensation. You have to wanna do it virtually to the exclusion of everything else. And when practicing law I really didn’t find that passion. I didn’t have that lust for the law. And so I did look to do something else, and I began to read about some people who had served in government, or who had practiced law who had gone into the investment world. And I thought it seemed more attractive to me; more of a chance to be a principal; more of a chance to be in control of one’s life; more of a chance not to be an advisor, but somebody making something happen. So I started Carlyle in 1987. We called it a merchant bank. We only had four people. We only had five million dollars to invest over a several year period of time. Today, as many people know, it’s grown to be one of the largest private equity firms in the world. We’re now managing about $75 billion, and have offices throughout the world, and companies that have over $100 billion in sales between the various companies we control. I wouldn’t have anticipated that then and never saw myself as a great capitalist when I was in law school, or working at the White House, or as a young man. But as events have unfolded, I have become, you know, very actively involved in the private equity world.

David Rubinstein talks about why he founded Carlyle.

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