BusinessWeek Q & A with Apple and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs

BusinessWeek’s Newsmaker Q & A focuses on Steve Jobs, “Apple’s visionary-in-chief” who says, “I see a recovery in innovation coming out of this downturn.”

BusinessWeek writes, “Steve Jobs is high tech’s ultimate connoisseur of consumer tastes. As CEO of both Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios, he has proven to be the rare bird in Silicon Valley who understands what the public wants and how to deliver it. In a recent conversation with BusinessWeek Silicon Valley Correspondent Peter Burrows, Jobs talks about innovation, music, and being creative in a stagant market.”

One of Steve Jobs’ answers stands out in particular:

What has happened in technology over the last few years has been about the downturn, not the future of technology. A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of [customers], they would continue to open their wallets.

Read the Q & A article here.


  1. It’s nice to see no mention of Steve running NeXt into the ground (only salvageable as a buyout later by Apple) What of all the investing companies in Silcon Valley that banked on Steve’s being the “connoisseur of consumer tastes”, well, their money’s gone and they are SOL on those funds. Seems EGO won over business sense. Steve wins some but he also looses alot and is NOT a good business man; to pretend otherwise is just foolish. Just look at Apple’s stock growth (a bit of a misnomer since there is none) over the recent years under Jobs; the only thing touted today is that Apple closed with more revenue this past quarter than the past 11 quarters. But guess what, Steve was running the company during those past 11 quarters and poorly. You aren’t a good business man just because you enjoy a small spike in revenue after running a company down over a long period of time. On top of that, he collects a huge financial package that is way out of step in any pay to performance ratio. If/when the SEC dictates that options handed out have to be expensed in SEC filings, everyone will find out how squarely in the red Apple is operating thanks to Steve Jobs. On top of that, in order to meet expectations (and give a small sense of growth) there were major layoffs at Apple just prior to the quarter closing. If Apple’s shareholders had any sense they’d boot him to a “visionaire” position to appeal to Mac loyalist/zealots/faithful and put a capable business man in the CEO chair to earn some profits. There are more reasons that the oft-heard excuse of “Wintel bigotry by WallStreet” why Apple (APPL) is not the darling of investors.

    On the other hand, Pixar’s success has more to do with the creative minds there than SJ’s leadership; in fact, he openly admits to have very little to do with the company on a leadership or day-to-day basis. That’s probably why it is suceeding instead of making disasterous financial moves; it’s a case where SJ saw a good investment opportunity but luckily is distracted with trying to make Apple break-even to sink Pixar. We’ll see how much SJ’s negotating with Disney hurts Pixar soon enough.

  2. Job’s one true failing is not predicting the future of computing but rather in knowing when that future will arrive. Examples are the Lisa, NeXT, the Mac Cube, etc. All ahead of their time. However, Steve has had many more successes: Macintosh (128k, “Thin Man”), iMac, killing the clone market, iPod, iTMS, etc. I doubt the string will end this year.

    Also you repeatedly mention the last 11 quarters. What about all the time since Steve took over? Apple’s stock is up from its (after accounting for the split) of just over $6. Apple has had more profitable quarters than any other PC centric company other than the bottom feeding Dell. (I consider Dell a bottom feeder because it has one of the lowest — if not THE lowest — R&D budgets in the industry. Everyone else invents something, proves the market and then Dell comes in and sells mass produced knock offs.)

    In reference to your comment “Just look at Apple’s stock growth (a bit of a misnomer since there is none) over the recent years under Jobs…” When Steve took over the stock was hovering about $6 (after taking into account the stock split done between then and now). Today it closed at $20.18. That’s about a 230% INCREASE in stock value. (True it was up over $60 (after accounting for the stock split) at one point, but if you had bought right before Steve took over and sold at the close of today you would have made a significant profit.)

    Finally, about booting Steve to a “visionaire” position and bringing in “a capable business man in the CEO chair”. That was tried. Gil Amelio was that person. A true businessman and a true turn around leader. Some even claimed it was the first time Apple had “adult supervision”. All that happened during Gil’s reign was Apple losing more money that it ever had before or since and Apple destroying products because it was cheaper to destroy them than sell them at a loss. Apple’s culture demands a dynamic leader. Steve is that person.

  3. So many reporters were saying how many hundreds of millions the stock options were worth to Steve (when in reality they were completely worthless) that Steve finally offered to sell all his stock options to one of the most vocal reporters for a dollar. The reporter did not take Steve up on the offer.

    About options and the way Apple’s accounting records them: What would have happened if Apple had recorded the charge at the differential seen at the $120 stock price? Steve could not buy at that time because the options were not fully vested. If Apple had taken a charge for the options then, when the stock price fell Apple would have had a huge write off that represented absolutely nothing.

    Besides, the options given to Steve will never drive Apple into the red as you say. Do the numbers. It just does not work out.

    Even today there is a reporter claiming Jobs averaged $219 million a year over 2000, 2001 and 2002. However, when you look at the numbers and add up even the most optimistic accounting in Steve’s favor no one can come up with more than about $170 million total over the three years. A conservative estimate is more like $80-90 million over the three years. That’s a $487-577 million dollar discrepancy. Yet the author, without any facts to back it up, still presents Steve as the worst of the CEO robber barons.

  4. hmmm, nice rant about how bad a CEO Steve Jobs is. He has had some blunders. NeXT (not NeXt) fell on it’s face because many of the things Steve pushed were way ahead of their time: drop the floppy, include an optical drive, put the RIP in the computer and not in the printer, UNIX variant operating system, etc. Almost all of these things are stardard in some form in personal computers today. Even the UNIX part: Microsoft just licensed all of UNIX recently.

    About Steve’s compensation: I just love all the financial analysts who shout about how much Steve’s compensation is. He gets one dollar a year so he can be on Apple’s insurance plan.

    He did get the plane. Even though it was used it is still worth more than $40 million. That’s a huge perk.

    About the stock options… A lot of what is written is 100% garbage. Back when he got the initial stock options the sale price of Apple stock was about $90 or so a share. His strike price (the price he could buy the options for) was in the high $80s (I don’t recall the exact amount). Through his efforts (and those of his staff) he got the stock price up over $120 a share. Thus people were quoting the $120 a share price (and just how much money Steve would have made if he bought at $89 and sold at $120) even after the stock price dropped to below $65. (And why did it drop in one week from over $120 to under $65? Not because Apple was losing money. It was because Apple warned analysts it was not going to make as much money as the analysts had predicted. At that time Apple was still one of the few computer companies making a profit, but Apple was not going to make as much as some analysts had predicted. So… How does Wall Street reward Apple for making a significant profit when many others are losing money? Wall Street fired back and the stock fell by half its value in under a week. It had absolutely nothing to do with Steve’s compensation and everything to do with analysts predictions being wrong.)

  5. Say what you like abt SJ. But since he stewarded AAPL, its gone up and it will cont to go up with the launch of the tablet, this is going to be something like a transition from the age of stone to steel from a tech perspective. From an investors point of view this is definitely an ultra strong bullet proof buy, it wouldnt make you rich to a tune of 800% but conservatively 80% for 2010 is definitely within the range

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