Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Feb 2015 20:58 UTC
Apple

A very long portrait of Jonathan Ive. There are way too many things to quote here, so I'm picking this one.

One morning at Apple’s headquarters, a few weeks earlier, Ive recalled how, in 1997, the company seemed to be dying around him. "Every story you'd read, every morning before coming to work, started with the phrase 'The beleaguered computer maker, Apple,' " he said. Ive was then thirty; after five years at the company, he had become its head of industrial design. “There was a Wired cover that had a big Apple logo with a crown of barbed wire, as thorns, and underneath it just said, 'PRAY.' I remember this because of how upsetting it was. Basically saying: either it's going to just go out of business or be bought."

It's remarkable how Apple went from effectively bankrupt (no joke: the company was 90 days from going bankrupt) to what it is today. A lot of Apple fans like to make fun of Michael Dell's comment that Apple should just shut down and give its money to shareholders, but at that time, that comment was entirely, 100% accurate.

The only reason Apple got back up on its feet was Steve Jobs, and nothing else. This recovery was a miracle, and nobody - nobody - saw it coming. This miraculous recovery will be taught in schools and universities for centuries to come.

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Only thing?
by ingraham on Tue 17th Feb 2015 16:23 UTC
ingraham
Member since:
2006-05-20

I've found conflicting information, but Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud bought a very large stake in Apple in 1997. I actually remember it being the news. (Yes, I'm old.) I didn't think it was a great investment, but, hey, he's the billionaire, not me. I can't find the exact date, so I don't know if he bought before or after Jobs's return. At any rate, it seems likely that Apple could have gotten some cash flow from him or other big investors if they were actually going to go bankrupt.
Remember, too, that bankruptcy doesn't mean death. There are plenty of examples of companies coming back from bankruptcy. Sometimes that involves being bought out (Eddie Bauer), sometimes it involves help from the government (GM, Chrysler), and sometimes it's a real recovery (Continental Airlines, Harry & David.) So even if Apple was "90 days from bankruptcy" (which may have been exaggerated), that doesn't mean they were 90 days from death.
Clearly Jobs was instrumental in turning Apple around. I don't think he was the only one on the planet who could have done it. I wouldn't have bought Apple stock in 1997, but Michael Dell's headline-grabbing comment was grand-standing horse sh**. Getting Microsoft on board was important to Apple's success, and one reason they did was that they were worried about anti-trust issues.
There was no one thing responsible for Apple's turn-around. (Sorry, Thom.) It is nevertheless an incredible story, and they will absolutely be studying it in B-schools for a long time to come. They'll be studying it BECAUSE it was a complicated scenario, one that Steve Jobs managed to navigate. Love him or hate him (or both), he definitely made some noise.

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