Let’s Bring Back Steve By Adam Lashinsky
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This chapter entails a successful story of Apple’s business decision associated with its co-founder, Steve Jobs, when he returned to Apple in 1996 and reinvigorated the company. Before the story, the quote of Verne Harnish puts an attention to how the Apple case is distinct from other entrepreneurs’ saviour stories considering Steve Jobs taking back the reins of his own company after being absent more than a decade. Especially, it depicts the existing leadership of the Apple admitting that they are in need of previous founder back to the company, which is astonishing. Certainly, upon the Apple board of directors’ decision to bring back Steve Jobs in 1996 to the company that he co-founded 20 years earlier, the Apple became one of the most valuable companies. With a combination of great timing and luck, Job’s return proves how well the company can be reviving. As already known, the Apple had a successful starting point in a computer industry since the 1960s with its Macintosh computer. User-friendly icons and mouse helped the Mac be successful, becoming a standard for other computers to follow. The campaign ‘’1984’’ of Apple shaped the brilliant image of Apple to be a powerful, dominant force in computing. In 1985, the Apple became profitable and a leader in the industry, and the chief executive that time whose name was John Sculley unwelcomed Steve Jobs who hired him initially. Then, in the ensuing years the Apple started to walk into the failure. The expansion of the product lines to multiple areas including printers and the Newton handheld computer was one of the examples. Increased inefficiency in running supply chain worsened a dysfunction of the Apple losing a sense of reality. Borrowing a quote from a journalist Alan Deutschman in his book The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, the Apple was pushing an expensive price for not-so-much brilliant products that they were producing. In 1993, the Apple replaced the CEO with Michael Spindler, a German-born operation chief. He tried but failed to negotiate a deal with the Sun Microsystems from peddling this computer maker. That time is when a software billionaire Larry Elison, who is also a close friend of Steve Jobs, considered buying Apple and setting Jobs as CEO. Ellison, however, never acted to do so, and in 1996 the board of Apple made Gil Amelio a CEO instead of Splinder.
Amelio was a chief executive of chipmaker National Semi-conductor. Although he had some experience in selling components to manufacturers, he never had consumer experience, which affected Apple’s sales to decrease again. Microsoft started to outmanoeuvre Apple, by succeeding in making its software standard across personal computers. Indicators on the year of 1996 show that Apple lost $816 million on $9.8 in sales, a 11% down from the previous year. Amelio then convinced the board of Apple to acquire the intellectual property and revitalise its old operating system software by purchasing a company called Be, which was run by a former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée. Dissatisfied with Apple’s offer, talks did not work out. Garret Tice, a midlevel executive at a company NeXT, contacted Apple that time to negotiate an offer to make Apple buy his company. The founder of NeXT was Jobs, who started this company right after he left Apple. Originally NeXT targeted the education market as a computer maker when it was established, however, the company was struggling in both hardware and software sectors. In this context, Garret contacted Apple without Jobs knowing it, and Apple kept in touch with Garret on this matter without the board of Apple acknowledging it. At the end of 1996, Apple stopped talks with Be and began to focus on NeXT for a negotiation, and Gil Amelio was in the centre of this negotiation. Amelio noticed its high value of NeXT in terms of its software, as well as its potential effect on creativity and vision of Apple if Steve Jobs comes back to work for Apple. Lashinsky guessed that Amelio may have thought that Steve Jobs is not the person who can take Amelio’s position considering Job has been known as a notorious manager in his start at Apple as well as NeXT that Jobs was involving did not seem to be a success yet. Further, Jobs rejected to have an employment agreement with Apple and wanted to be just an informal advisor. The request that Jobs made was $427 million to Apple to pay for NeXT by cash - he did not need the money because he was already rich from the computer-animation company Pixar where Jobs involved and received a huge payment , and he was not so much interested in the long-term profit of NeXT from Apple than he was getting paid, Lashinsky says.
After the deal between Apple and Jobs was made on December 20, 1996, Jobs started to take a role in a Macworld presentation which was mostly presided over by Amelio and which then was remembered by the public with Amelio’s less impressive performance. Starting 1997, Jobs began to act like he is the boss of Apple although he was an informal advisor, and he met Apple’s chief of design Jonathan Ive. Impressed by Ive’s work including all-in-one computer that is now called as the iMac, Jobs grilled people he met about his work at Apple. Lashinsky says that Jobs was not an employee of Apple nor a significant shareholder that time. However, the rumour began saying that Amelio and Jobs are competing over a position of Apple CEO, and Amelio’s unfortune, consistently disappointing presentation at the Apple annual shareholders meeting made Apple’s new board member (and former DuPont CEO) Edgar Woolard be worried about the company’s capability to push forwards for the plan and employee morale. In July, Woolard’s persuasive assertions at the board let Amelio be fired and helped Jobs to return to the company. Jobs was hesitant first because he was a CEO of Pixar already and it was not possible for him to maintain two CEO positions. When finally agreeing to return to the company, Jobs made a condition to let Woolard resign from the board if the board wants to Jobs come back – he made this condition in pursuit of making the board trustable for him. Jobs, with his interim CEO Fred Anderson, handled significant negotiations with Microsoft to achieve the investment of $150 million for Apple. In August, it was announced to be successful and further, Microsoft agreed with having Microsoft Office compatible for the Macintosh.
By September, Jobs made the board consisting of his trustworthy friends including Ellison and former Apple executive Bill Campbell. Then Jobs decided to be an interim CEO, a title that became iCEO later. The board tried somehow to search another permanent CEO that can be as competitive as Jobs but they were not able to find anyone like Jobs in the market. Lashinsky added, at the end the board members who left were all faced with having to decide whether resign or lose Jobs. Jobs around that time changed his mind and wanted to come back totally to Apple as a CEO, waiting for the right moment. Until 2000, the board actually tried other two wrong guys and Jobs was in a position as iCEO. Jobs consistently showed his competitiveness and made the board trust more on Jobs rather than the mentioned two guys. Jobs brought success again to Apple after coming back to the company, reforming the structure of Apple’s divisions and replacing some key personnel such as hiring a logistics executive Tim Cook, who became the future CEO. Also, Jobs discontinued producing failed products including the Newton and the QuickTake 150, a digital camera. His leadership represented the company’s image that he established. Lashinsky mentions that the company employees all loved Jobs in his showmanship and pride. In 1998, at a Macworld presentation, Jobs successfully handled the company’s fanatics to be in line for new computers, which made lots of business companies inspired.
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