Laughing last, laughing best

Twenty years ago, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer, took back the reins of the company as its chief executive officer.

The company was, shall we say, in not too good a shape. In fact, at a meeting of technology managers that year, competitor Michael Dell of Dell Computers was asked what he would do if he were CEO of Apple.

“What would I do?” Dell said to an audience of several thousand. “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

Well, Jobs didn’t do that and now Apple is the largest company in the world, judged by market capitalization. Today, we live in a society of iPhones, iPads, iMacs, iTunes and iPods. Oh, and iWatches.

As of Friday, Apple’s market capitalization was $815.38 billion– Dell’s is $13.49 billion. In other words, Apple is worth 62 Dells. Heck, Apple is worth $164 billion more than the second largest, Google, which has a market cap of a measly $615 billion.

Jobs injected 1997 Apple with a new spirit of adventure. He challenged his employees to think innovatively — develop new products people didn’t even know they wanted. In the process, they transformed mobile phones, the music industry and, with their iPad tablet, computing and publishing.

Jobs died in 2011 after a long fight with cancer. It appears that his successor, Tim Cook, has kept Apple infused with the Jobs’ spirit of invention.

It is safe to say that Jobs’ reconnection with Apple in 1997 will go down as one of the biggest success stories in American corporate history. Somewhere, Steve Jobs is laughing last, and best.

(Portions of this editorial have appeared previously in The Maui News.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.

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