Decision Time: Staying at Apple (?)

Ernest Prabhakar (
Mon, 11 Aug 97 18:37:56 -0700

Hello everyone,

Well, I am fast approaching the crossroads. I figured I'd share my
thoughts with all of you, since you would all be impacted by this in
different ways (some more than others). I would appreciate any
observations, advice, and prayers (though only the last would I
necessarily accept:). Mostly, though, I suppose I am writing to clarify
my own thoughts.

The question is whether I should stay with Apple in San Jose as Product
Marketing Manager for Rhapsody, their next generation operating system.
There are a large number of questions I need answered this week in terms
of where the technology is going, and how my role would be defined, but
for the moment let us assume they satisfy me on all the relevant points.
In some sense I am facing to questions:
a) working at Apple vs. returning to a part-time position with BCG
b) living in San Jose vs. staying in LA

a) The Job

Part (a) is what I am starting to give ground on. The attraction of the
BCG job (which I am currently on leave from) is partly the work itself -
a great boss, challenging work, a stable company. However, the biggest
attraction is being able to work part time, so I have time for ministry,
sleep, and other projects. In particular, the biggest project would be
working with the Rhapsody user community from the outside, leveraging my
contacts and knowledge for working with Apple.

What I have been convicted of is the - for lack of a better word -
cowardice of wanting to be an industry observer, vs. rolling up my sleeves
and actually trying to shape the industry. I talk a lot about how the
world could be a better place, and what are and are not good ways to help
it improve. It would probably be a good experience for me to have to put
my money where my mouth is.

Of course, the flip side of this is that the computer industry is,
cosmically speaking, a small and unimportant part of the world (compared
to, e.g., global hunger, world evangelization, human rights, etc.).
And (on the face of it) I would not have as much time to be involved with
church and service activities which do impact those things.

On the other hand, I can have a much larger impact on Apple and the
computer industry than I can on those other things. Plus the experience,
relationships, and visibility I develop could come in useful in a future
more directly aligned with those goals. Plus, having to work intensely
with a large group of people for a long time period would probably be more
character building than the "jump-in/jump-out" nature of consulting, and
I've always felt that character should precede ministry.

b) Location

It may seem strange, but the biggest decision is actually about location,
not vocation. The reason is that the job decision is easily reversible.
With the stock price hitting new highs, and a commitment from Microsoft,
Apple is certainly going to be around for a while, so I am not worried
about that. However, both Apple and BCG have said that they'd still be
interested in me if I went with the other for a while, so if circumstances
change I have a fall-back position.

The decision that is hard to reverse is where I live. Since I am mostly
travelling, BCG can use me anywhere in North America (and probably several
places in Europ and Asia) where I am close to a major airport. Apple,
however, needs me to be in Silicon Valley (Cupertino, just south of San
Francisco). The reason I did not want to relocate with BCG was that I'd
always be travelling, so it would be hard to develop a social life. With
Apple, I'd be working somewhat hard (50 hour weeks has been my norm), but
the hours are relatively predictable, and I'd have weekends. For that
matter, I've already built a relationship with a youth group up here,
which I could certainly cultivate if I came back long term.

The hard part is not living up here, but rather leaving LA. Somewhat
surprisingly, I've grown to love LA in the nine years I've been there. I
also have a wonderful, dynamic church which it would be hard to leave, as
well as some long-term friends.

And yet... it does seem like things are winding down. My closest friend
has finally bought a car, and found a community to be involved with.
Another close friend just got married, and is actually living north of San
Francisco now. My last remaining grad student friend just graduated.
The one Techer I still hang out with insists on my going to Apple in order
to straighten them out!

At Lake Ave. (my church), people would miss me, but I've been gone so much
they're mostly used to it. My home church has a new male co-leader, and
perhaps even a guitar player (Leigh, have you talked to Amy S about
that?). My kindergarten class is graduating to 1st grade, so it is a
natural break for them. I'll miss TwentySomething and the College Group,
but I'm not really a regular part of formal leadership anyway, and I can
still send encouraging/harassing emails.

Beyond specific people, the thing I personally would miss the most is the
intergenerational men's group I met with on Monday nights. There are a
lot of great youth groups in the area (what with all the single people who
come here for jobs), but most churches have a hard time building bridges
between generations, and I was very lucky to find a bunch of older men I
could learn from and share with. That will be hard to reproduce, though
I know God can provide.

The other complicating factor is that there is a girl I was seeing in LA
before I left for the summer. We've been talking over the phone, and
things are starting to get interesting. Being separated is harsh, but I
know people who have survived it, and (again) it would certainly build
character. Besides, San Jose isn't too terribly far from Pasadena, in
the grand scheme of things. And of course things are far from certain, so
this isn't the sort of thing to base decisions on.

Actually, I realize I am not really asking for advice or trying to make an
argument (though you're all still welcome to chime in). At one level, I
think I have already made a decision, and I am now just counting the cost
and starting in on the grieving process for what I will have to give up.
Things could certainly change - Apple still has to make the actual offer -
but at this point it looks like I am on a trajectory to stay.

That doesn't mean I'll never come back to LA. In fact, I would probably
go home this Friday, on schedule, and take a month to get my affairs in
order and finish up stuff for BCG, as well as throw myself a big farewell
party. It also takes Apple a while to process paperwork, though
hopefully they could roll over parts of it from my consulting gig.

Anyway, thanks for listening, and I appreciate being able to share the
adventure with you.


Ernie P.

Ernest Prabhakar
Rhapsody Product Marketing Manager (until Aug 15th)
"and ourselves, your servants for Jesus sake." -- II Cor 4:5b
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