‘My model for business is the Beatles’ – why Steve Jobs was no lone hero

“One of the greatest examples in business history of a large organization’s maneuverability took place right before our eyes: Apple Inc.,” Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone write for Salon. “In September 2002, Apple’s future was thought to be so bleak you could buy shares in Apple Computer at a price that valued its operating enterprise at less than zero. What you were buying, if you had been so bold, was Apple’s cash reserves of $5 billion. Beyond that, you were buying a prayer that Apple could do something with that cash.”

“Remember, this was five years after the return of Steve Jobs,” Karlgaard and Malone write. “Contrary to myth, Jobs did not immediately turn around Apple’s dismal fortunes. Yet just one decade later, Apple would drop the “Computer” from its name but win the world. It would become the richest company on earth in September 2012, valued at $656 billion.”

Karlgaard and Malone write, “Did Steve Jobs see himself as a lone hero? Perhaps, but it’s hard to ignore what he told 60 Minutes: ‘My model for business is the Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other’s negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are never done by one person; they are done by a team of people.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If Apple were The Beatles, Steve Jobs was John, Paul, George, and Ringo combined. The supporting cast, which changed depending on the product or service, were a collective George Martin supplying a stream of ideas, the best of which were nurtured, molded, and perfected by the visionary genius.


  1. It takes time to turn an aircraft carrier around.

    Lots of preparation, modification of Next OS into OSX, updates of Quicktime, Changes in manufacturing scheduling, paring of unneeded models toward a definite focus on mobile in virtually all areas of Apple.

    Hence, I just see Steve as the gifted Captain & not 4 guys wrapped up in one. Steve wasn’t always right. He took guidance and concepts from all sorts of people, not the least of which was Jony & Tim.

  2. Ordinary mortals almost always underestimate (and undervalue) the brilliance of rare individuals like Steve Jobs. Their true genius only begins to be understood long after they are gone. Without Apple, Steve Jobs would still have become a titan. But without Steve Jobs, Apple would be lucky to still exist at all.

  3. Probably a more accurate analogy would be Steve Jobs and Jony Ive being John and Paul (take your pick which is which) and then other key individuals filling the George and Ringo roles. 🙂

  4. Could not agree more with the article.

    Those who think Steve was a everything and everybody… have been overly influenced by one of Steves geniuses “Marketing”.. Which extended to himself as well.

  5. People can pick at details of the Beatles analogy, but the real meat in Steve’s quote was “Great things in business are never done by one person; they are done by a team of people.”

    Apple genuinely values co-operation and actively encourages team working. Other companies frequently talk the talk about team building, but their management structures often do exactly the opposite, with one individual or department pitted against another. The overall result is that far too much effort is wasted on rivalry and feuding.

    The best example of how Apple truly works as a team was what happened after Steve died. The team were obviously hugely saddened, but carried on working the way they were intended to and the results were just like when he was running the show. Many expected Apple to stumble without Steve, but the opposite has happened and the Apple team that Steve put together has taken the company to even greater heights.

    The irony is that while Steve had a reputation as a control freak, the reality was that he created a company that was able to flourish without him being there any more. He had actually made himself completely dispensable.

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