Apple: a multi-billion dollar tech company that is now a household name around the world. However, like every major company, there is a unique story behind it. Apple’s story all started in a garage in Los Altos, California and was shaped by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Throughout the history of Apple Computers, Jobs’ relationship with the company and the public’s perception of him has changed. These changes are seen during Steve Jobs’ leave from Apple starting in 1985, and when he joined Apple again as CEO in 1997, and the company after his resignation.
In 1985, Steve Jobs was ousted by Apple’s board and resigned. However, his actions after resigning were considered shameful and angered many within Apple. A TIME magazine article states, “Jobs, who remains the largest single Apple stockholder with more than $85 million worth of shares, will not go gentle into the night.” Jobs would create a computer company called NeXT that would compete with Apple, drawing criticism. After informing the board of his new company, “he implied that he would not take any key Apple employees with him.” Jobs did, in fact, take some valuable Apple employees, including senior engineers and managers. Many reacted to this very harshly, such as Don Sinsabaugh, managing director of a brokerage firm. He said, “It surprised me that Jobs acted so unprofessionally. It was tacky” (“SHAKEN TO THE VERY CORE After months of anger and anguish, Steve Jobs resigns as Apple chairman”).
Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 as CEO after the previous one was ousted by the board as a result of a dreadful quarter. Instead of being viewed as unprofessional and a liar, Jobs was now seen as a hero, arriving to save Apple. The company at the moment was slumping. An article published in 1997 states that “It had sales of $9.8 billion last year, but revenues have dropped significantly in 1997. Losses have mounted – more than $1.5 billion over 18 months.” Apple was in need of better leadership to guide the company to success. Many responded to Jobs’ arrival in a positive manner. For example, an Apple board member at the time said, “It’s conceivable Apple could turn around without Steve, but the probability goes up significantly with Steve. Steve is noted for his intellect and vision, but he can also bring a spirit of enthusiasm to users and employees alike.” Under Jobs’ leadership, Apple would thrive. After his new position in the company was announced, “Apple stock soared 33% to $26.31” (Steve’s job: Restart Apple”). This is another example of the several benefits of Steve Jobs returning to Apple. However, his leadership ended in 2011.
Jobs resigned from Apple in 2011 as CEO after having a medical leave a few months before. He named his successor, Tim Cook, in his resignation letter. Steve Jobs was seen as a very successful leader of Apple and many were questioning if Tim Cook can live up to the expectations that Jobs has set. Byron Appleyard, author of “Is Apple dying?”, writes that “Cook is not Jobs and, since the iPad, there has been no spectacular product launch, only the usual stream of updates and improvements. His more conventional management practices are said to be counter-innovative.” The quote is an example of criticism of Cook about his differences in leadership with Steve Jobs. Appleyard also writes, “What Cook can’t do, however, is maintain’s Apple marketing operation; this is because it is dead. Jobs was the marketing department.” He states that Jobs has cofounded Apple, grew it, and returned to save it. His life story helped Apple, because when someone bought an Apple device, they were buying into Steve Jobs’ story. Without one of the most successful leaders the company has ever seen, Apple has lost its edge. After all, “There are three companies competing to be the internet platform of the future – Apple, Google and Facebook” (“Is Apple dying?”). Some may even say that Apple would be much more successful if Steve Jobs was alive and well, and as the CEO.
In conclusion, the public’s views on Steve Jobs and his relation to the company he co-founded, has changed over the course of history. During his leave in 1985, he was seen unprofessional as he created a new company that would compete with Apple and stole some key employees. He was seen as a hero during his return in 1997 and was out to save the very company he was ousted from. After Jobs resigned in 2011, he was seen as the last successful CEO, as he set a very high standard that Tim Cook would have to meet. Steve Jobs died on October 5, 2011 of pancreatic cancer. However, his legacy and his vision of making computers personal lives on.