In this interview with Steve Jobs, the Apple founder lays out how his vision differed from John Sculley, a former PepsiCo CEO, in moving the company through an industry depression. Everything said by Steve to describe John Sculley applies to Tim Cook today, with the same narrow-mindedness on the execution of short kicking the can of a cohesive product vision of long to the curb.
Blissfully unknowledgeable about sound product strategies, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook manages to please Wall Street and Warren Buffet with the formidable rocket ship Steve built until the changed trajectory of Tim Cook makes it apparent to everyone the rocket ship will inevitably come crashing down.
A weak Apple board, like the one supporting John Sculley, with no executives with product technology experience to challenge the trajectory of the rocket ship will do that to a company, again.
Watch the video to hear Steve in his own words describe Apple’s recurring problem:
0:21 What can I say, I hired the wrong guy. He destroyed everything I spent 10 years working for
0:42 He got on a rocket ship that was about to leave the pad, the rocketship left the pad, it kind of went to his head and thought he had built the rocket ship, and then he sort of changed the trajectory, so that it was inevitably going to crash into the ground
1:25 The industry went into a recession, and John did not know what to do, he had not a clue, and there was a leadership vacuum at the top of Apple, fairly strong managers at the top and there were some problems, a bunch of things needed to be changed, all the problems put in a pressure cooker because of the contraction in the marketplace, and there was no leadership.
2:35 John had an incredible survival instinct.
3:01 John had cultivated a close relationship with the board, and they believed him.
3:12 I don’t think John had a vision for the company
3:36 My belief was that Apple needed to unite these factions…
4:00 John’s vision was that he should remain CEO of the company, and anything that would help him do that would be acceptable
4:16 Apple was in a state of paralysis
5:29 The values of Apple, over the next several years, were systematically destroyed
Broken At The Top
Apple today is pretending to defend the moral high ground of humanity, increasingly monolithically arbitrating what it deems good for the world. All while it is getting sued left and right for more than just moral infractions of the right to sovereignty and plurality of the world’s innate diversity. The world will not be betting the farm on technology’s reign, and thus Tim’s land grab and constitutional challenge are leading the company on an arduous suicide mission.
Apple’s products are rife with bad design decisions, poor in-market performance characteristics, failing core components, poor renewal characteristics, horrible long-term battery performance, bad keyboards, poor autocorrect, jittery music playback, ill-devised musical-chair escapism to services, no strong renewal, no vision for the future, no clear vector of why we care about Apple more than any of its competitors, a lost leader.
Apple has some fantastic engineers and managers; they are however not lead by a CEO capable of getting the best out of them. Tim Cook does not understand the intricacies of what made Apple stand out from the beginning, and you can clearly see the seamless experience across all capabilities in Apple’s portfolio waning. Product complexity increases along with its discombobulated interactions.
Apple, today, is an utter mess. I should know, I have and use all their products, for the last 30 years. Those products are now just a tad above the mess other technology companies are afforded, for now, thanks to the remarkable foundation Steve built. The best of the worst, is, however, not a badge of honor any company should be content with.
And indeed, the same people who couldn’t recognize the value of Apple before it showed up in their financials are bound to be the same people who will not recognize its deflation after. Product is the leading indicator to finance, both in up-swing and down-swing.
Not long on Apple, relative to the size of Apple, is my intrepid investment advice to the deaf ears of Warren Buffet, on the grounds of Apple’s ill-fated trajectory and its mistaken interpretation of servitude. But I do not expect a person to pay attention to my investment advice who also considers a company producing sugar-water good for the world.