Sculley: Uh, maybe I shouldn’t have fired Steve Jobs

invisibleSHIELD case for iPad“In the annals of blown calls, it ranks somewhere between the publishers who turned down the first Harry Potter book and baseball umpire Jim Joyce’s instantly infamous perfect-game flub last week,” Thomas E. Weber reports for The Daily Beast. “It was the spring of 1985, and the board of Apple Computer decided it no longer needed the services of one Steven P. Jobs.”

“Fate had a doozy in store for the men—and they were all men—who dumped the famously combative Jobs. The upstart they fired eclipsed them by many magnitudes, as emphasized two weeks ago when Apple passed Microsoft to become the most valuable technology company in the world,” Weber reports. “The key antagonist in the tech world’s biggest soap opera of a quarter-century ago: John Sculley, the Pepsi executive whom Apple’s board brought in as CEO to oversee Jobs and grow the company.”

Weber reports, “Sculley says he accepts responsibility for his role but also believes that Apple’s board should have understood that Jobs needed to be in charge. ‘My sense is that it probably would never have broken down between Steve and me if we had figured out different roles,’ Sculley says. ‘Maybe he should have been the CEO and I should have been the president. It should have been worked out ahead of time, and that’s one of those things you look to a really good board to do.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: ‘Twas the unprepared sugared water salesbozo who signed the poorly-written contract that unleashed the Dark Age of Personal Computing on the world; a darkness from which most are only now slowly emerging. The fool had a penchant for making unbelievably massive mistakes. Sculley makes Ballmer look like a business genius.


  1. Untrue. I think it was that firing that galvanized Steve, motivated him even more and gave him some different perspective that allowed him to return to Apple and make it into what it has become.

    Not that I’m giving Sculley any credit, he was a nincompoop who made the wrong move. I just think in the end it made Steve better at what he does.

  2. Actually, I don’t think SJ would be the leader and visionary he is today without having been so unceremoniously dumped on his ass in ’85. We should be thanking Sculley for making him what he is today.

    OK, *thanking* him may be a stretch.

  3. I actual disagree with this premise, I think the firing of Steve Jobs was a good thing… for Steve Jobs. If you guys know the history of Steve Jobs at Apple in the beginning, he was relentless on his developers to the point of crazy. He polarized the Apple II team from the mac team, thus splitting Apple in two. And more importantly, his ego was huge. The firing let him refocus. He built NeXT with an emphasis on the software (OS). And today we are reaping the benefits of all the lessons he learned. Sure, Apple may have been better off (no stupid MS deal, for instance), but I think in the long run, the firing was benefitial to Jobs.

  4. @Macromancer
    I agree. I think Steve wasn’t the more mature Steve that returned to the company who realized that people can do great work and be passionate and excited about things and also have a life outside that.

  5. You guys who think Steve needed to be fired in order to change into the current Steve … you don’t know Steve. He would have changed into the current Steve, more or less, in any case. Instead it nearly killed Apple and allowed Microsoft to own the world. That’s not a reality that was good for anyone, nor necessary for Apple’s current success!

    Look what Steve did when he got fired. He formed NeXt. Look at Apple now, OS X running the iPhone, built in part from NeXt’s OS. We could have reached this point much sooner if Steve didn’t have a camp of enemies at Apple at the time. (Not saying iPhone would have materialized earlier, but Apple would be even more mature in its products and development today than it is…) Think about it.

    Sculley is a classic case of an eejit with no clue who thinks they can run an innovative company by numbers and productivity and marketing alone. Now he’s trying to foist some of the blame (for firing Steve) onto the board. That’s shows his character right there!

  6. MDN take: “Sculley makes Ballmer look like a business genius.”

    At least Sculley didn’t dance around stage in a single-cheek attempt to look hip.

  7. I don’t know. When you get to the edge of the scale where Steve Ballmer is, it is hard to believe anything is past his point. If he looses his standing, I am sure Ballmer will screw something else up and get it back.

    Ballmer works hard to hold his title!

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