It seems like Ruth’s home is everywhere. Her mom Guna was born and raised in Sweden and her father Rick is a Jewish orphan from Poland who survived the Holocaust as a hidden child and immigrated to Israel in 1947 and then to California in 1964 where he met Guna, who was vacationing there, and fell madly in love with Rick and decided to stay and raise a family in Marin County, California.
Ruth was born a multinational and lived in California until 2004 when she and her young family moved to Gibraltar where they have been domiciled by choice ever since, although they do vacation in Israel and UK where they also have a family. She obtained a B.A in Business from the University of San Francisco in 1988 and a J.D. from Western State University College of Law in 1992.
Ruth and her two sisters were raised in Mill Valley just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Growing up in the ’80s, she was a total California girl. She sailed, skied, studied piano and ice skating – getting up regularly at 5 am to skate before school.
Doing accounting for her dad after school, Ruth got a taste for business. As a survivor, one of his girls had to learn the family business so that none of them would become destitute as he had once been. As the oldest, that someone was Ruth. He insisted she gets a law degree as a prerequisite to becoming a businesswoman that men would respect. The family business included managing residential and commercial real estate, as well as investing in nightclubs and technology start-ups. Her dad Rick built it all from scratch – “Ricky” as his friends call him is by all accounts extremely intelligent and extremely well-read in many languages. He is also very tough, everyone remembers him, and almost everybody loves him.
After law school, Ruth went to work for one of her dad’s phone businesses for a while – an audio text pay-per-call 900 number provider. It grew rapidly from a domestic to a global enterprise before transitioning to Internet services in the mid- 90s.
The offerings were tarot card and horoscope readings, trivia, wake-up calls, conference lines, voice mail applications, and also sexy chat. She certainly learned a lot working for her dad, but quickly came to a point where she needed to break free and do something of her own.
Growing up near Silicon Valley, the epicenter of the high tech Internet boom, she was inspired by the innovation and the new “information highway” concepts. At the same time, having also spent a lot of time in Las Vegas with her dad, where he developed several apartment complexes and office buildings, she got a feel for the gaming business. Then in 1995, at a trade show, she was pitched an investment opportunity for a first-generation online casino package. It was clunky and primitive but captured Ruth’s imagination to offer games online. She decided to design a new system and hired a team to start building and marketing it, launching Starluck Casino Online in 1997.
Things took off fast. The team soon set its sights on the poker community, launching PartyPoker in 2001. Players loved it, and it became the heart and soul of her company, the parent company of which was PartyGaming Plc. which then in June 2005, floated on the London Stock Exchange at a value of $8.5 billion dollars. After the IPO, Ruth resigned from the day to day business of PartyGaming (although remaining a shareholder until 2015). Instead, she redirected her energy to looking after her 5 children and to focus on building out her private family office, diversify her portfolio into predominantly investment-grade real estate, and also to initiate philanthropic initiatives to give back. Daily, Ruth remains active in her investments as well as her philanthropy.
As Ruth likes to laugh about, one night right after the PartyGaming’s IPO, the lead banker said to her “now you can go to Fiji, sit on the beach and never work again.” It sounded like torture to her, and she can’t sit still for more than a minute. Never good in school suffering from ADHD and some Dyslexia as well, Ruth’s great gift is creating teams, not taking no for an answer and enjoying a hard days work. That’s what keeps her going.