Steve Jobs, Hesitant Co-Founder, Makes New Commitment To Apple
By STEVE LOHR
Little more than a week ago, as Steve Jobs was becoming more and more
involved in running Apple Computer Inc., the Silicon Valley rumor mill had
him ready to step in as chairman and chief executive of the company he had
Not so, Jobs said in a brief telephone conversation. He explained that
taking on the rehabilitation challenge at Apple full time would play havoc
with his family life and that he already had a full-time job at Pixar Inc.
- the computer animation studio behind the film ``Toy Story'' - a company
he founded and heads.
Still, referring to his increasing role at Apple, Jobs closed by saying,
``Remember, I started this company in my parents' garage.''
Just how far Jobs is willing to go in trying to revive the company he calls
``my first love'' became evident Wednesday. He announced that he had
persuaded Apple's long-time adversary, Microsoft Corp., and its chairman,
Bill Gates, to invest $150 million in Apple.
He also overhauled the much-criticized Apple board, bringing in three
respected executives familiar with the computer industry. Jobs will join
the Apple board and become interim chairman until the company can find a
To save Apple, Jobs has assembled an unlikely high-technology rescue team.
It runs the gamut from his close friend Larry Ellison, the chairman of
Oracle Corp., to his former rival Gates. In doing so, Jobs has appealed to
friendship and pragmatism, emphasizing to computing's elite that if ever
there was a time to step forward to help Apple survive, it is now.
``Steve Jobs is doing everything he can to re-establish Apple's
credibility,'' said Richard Shaffer, a principal of Technologic Partners, a
research firm. ``Steve is trying to generate the belief that Apple will
survive and that the industry, even Microsoft, has a stake in its survival.''
And Jobs himself is now staking his reputation on helping Apple survive. By
stepping in as interim chairman and as a board member, he is making a
significant, formal commitment to Apple, a company that forced him out in a
boardroom coup in 1985 and brought him back as a part-time adviser last
December, when Apple acquired his Next Software Inc.
Jobs apparently views his stint as Apple's interim chairman as just that -
a temporary job that he will relinquish when the board recruits a full-time
chairman and chief executive.
Analysts say that drafting a strong board, as Jobs has done, may well make
it easier to lure a first-class chief executive to Apple. Besides Ellison
and himself, Jobs has brought to the Apple board Bill Campbell, the chief
executive of Intuit Inc., the provider of personal finance software, and
Jerome York, the former chief financial officer of IBM. Three current board
members - including an early Apple investor and a former chairman, Mike
Markkula - resigned.
Indeed, a person close to Apple said that the executive recruiter heading
the search for a new chief executive, John Thompson, vice chairman of
Heidrick & Struggles Inc., had held off beginning his search in earnest
while awaiting the board changes announced yesterday.
Jobs has remained active at Pixar, although recently he has shown up at its
offices in Richmond, Calif., only once or twice a week. He talks daily with
Pixar executives and regularly meets on nights and weekends with Lawrence
Levy, Pixar's executive vice president, who is a neighbor of Jobs in Palo
For the next two or three months, Jobs has told Pixar colleagues, he will
be spending most of his time at Apple, but that will end once a new Apple
chief executive is brought on board. Apple's former chairman and chief
executive, Gilbert Amelio, resigned under pressure last month.
Jobs is chief executive of Pixar, and his stake in the company is estimated
at $500 million.
``Steve has spent the last decade slowly building Pixar into a leading
animation studio, and he has a huge amount of wealth tied up in Pixar,''
Levy said. ``He definitely views running Apple as something he will do for
two or three months, and then return full time to Pixar.''
The personal side of Microsoft's investment in Apple - a meeting of the
minds and pocketbooks of Jobs and Gates - is the latest chapter in a
long-running relationship that is more complex than it might seem.
Born a few months apart in 1955, the two have very different backgrounds
and personalities. Gates is the scion of an old, affluent Seattle family;
Jobs is the adopted son of a machinist in Northern California.
Gates, until recently, has been laser-like in his focus on business. By
contrast, Jobs, who dated Joan Baez, trekked around India in search of
spiritual enlightenment and refers to classic animated films as modern
myths, has often branched farther afield.
Yet in business, the two have often been partners as well as adversaries.
Microsoft was an early producer of applications programs, like word
processing and spread sheets, that run on Apple's Macintosh computers - and
it remains a good business for Microsoft, estimated at $400 million a year.
In the early 1980s, Gates routinely appeared with Jobs at industry
gatherings, even at Apple sales conferences, expressing his support for
In a 1983 conference, where he introduced the Macintosh to Apple's national
sales force, Jobs' performance was typically charismatic and stirring. It
ended with his listeners standing on their chairs, screaming.
Gates was there and found the scene impressive, as recounted in ``Gates,''
a biography by Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews. Looking on, Gates declared,
``This is Steve Jobs at his best.''
Gates was so impressed with how the Macintosh operating program made the
personal computer user-friendly that he patterned Microsoft's now-dominant
Windows operating system after the Mac.
For his part, Jobs has been critical of Microsoft in the past, though not
for business reasons. In a television documentary last summer about the
history of the computer industry, ``Triumph of the Nerds,'' Jobs said,
``The only problem with Microsoft is that they just have no taste.''
``They don't think of original ideas, and they don't bring much culture
into their products,'' he added.
After the PBS documentary was broadcast, Jobs called Gates to apologize for
making those comments in public.
Later, in an interview last November, Jobs was far more complimentary.
Microsoft, he said, got a big lift when IBM chose Microsoft to supply the
operating program for its personal computers when Big Blue entered that
business in 1981.
``That helped, but it certainly doesn't explain all the success Bill Gates
and Microsoft have enjoyed in the years since,'' Jobs said. ``Bill is
obviously a super-smart guy.''
On Tuesday night, after the final details of the Microsoft-Apple deal were
hammered out, Jobs called Gates at Microsoft headquarters in Seattle. Jobs
said he thought the deal would prove to be good for both companies and
their customers and, according to a Microsoft official who heard the call,
expressed his respect for Gates and his decision to invest in Apple.
``I appreciate this,'' Jobs said.
``He seemed very sincere,'' the Microsoft official said.
--- Rohit Khare /// MCI Internet Architecture (BOS) /// firstname.lastname@example.org Voice+Pager: (617) 960-5131 VNet: 370-5131 Fax: (617) 960-1009