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Has the Apple fallen too far from the tree? Back in November 2011 after reading Walter Isaacson's bio on Steve Jobs, we wrote about the momentum that Apple could sustain now that Jobs had passed. Although the stock has risen to all time highs since his death, it has since fallen, dramatically. Was the rise in price due to the short term innovation that Jobs had put in place and the fall due to that lack of ferocious intensity that Jobs personified? Only time will tell, but the latest earnings reports and with RIMM set to launch Blackberry 10, some investors are wondering if the Apple has been Cooked?
Oct. 5, 2011, death of Steve Jobs: 378.25
Sept 21, 2012 All time high: 705.07
Jan 24, 2013 Pre-Market: $464.05 and falling
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, it's all about Jobs!
No, this isn't a political rant about the economy, but jobs were prevalent in 1955. Unemployment was 4.4%; which is less than half what it is today, a small restaurant with golden arches opened and Mr Potato Head received its patent a few years prior...and the world welcomed onto this planet a boy named Gates and another named Jobs. The former in October, the latter in February. No Potato Heads here. Gates and Jobs would change our world. Columbus discovered the Earth to be round. Jobs transformed it into the shape of an Apple.
Walter Isaacson opens our eyes to the core of Apple, revealing the politics of one of the worlds largest and most successful companys. Politics that we who live in the corporate world have come to love and hate, more so hate, but it's the nature of the beast. Isaacson, through detailed interviews and access to friends, enemies and Jobs' himself, reveals the petulant personality of Steve Jobs, his family life and the wrath of his work ethic.
From his chastising of subordinates during one on one meetings or in front of an audience to his slashing criticism of ideas only to return a week, sometimes a few days later explaining an idea he thought of, when in fact it was theirs to begin with. Jobs held a unique perspective on management, style and vision. One day berating people, the next, crying, literally, over the simplest things.
By providing Gates' opinion after each Apple product release, Isaacson perpetuates the friendly yet competitive and contentious relationship between Jobs and Gates, helping the reader understand their different personalities, motivations and philosophies.
Jobs' had a way of willing things or ideas to fruition. Ideas that his best engineers said couldn't be accomplished but then miraculously would. A concept throughout the book called, reality distortion field. One could argue this way of thinking led him to struggles, particularly in his battle with cancer, that he couldn't overcome. Electing not to be more diligent in health matters and continue his eccentric diet and lack the common sense to follow the direction of medical professionals as well as close friends and family.
Job's clearly is a genius. Not smart, as Isaacson states, but a genius and there's a difference. History will define Steve Jobs in the same category of those before him. Those that had such an impact on how we live that leaving him out of the mix would be an insult to his legacy. Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, etc.
Take for example, Sam Walton. Walton was clearly the face of Walmart. But there was so much more to Walmart than Sam Walton. Walton was a retail visionary and changed how America and the world shopped. Walmart has lasted beyond Sam's passing. Full disclosure, I worked for Walmart (Sam's Club) during Sam's tenure and after. It did change. Changed in respect to employee benefits and workplace environment. Gone with Sam were many employee benefits, a less employee friendly environment. Will the vision and innovation of Steve Jobs diminish at Apple now that he's gone? Will the tense, volatile environment change now that he has passed and will the innovation and growth sustain itself. Was his management style the catalyst that drove Apple to success?
Two other examples, Howard Schultz and Michael Dell. Dell's last name alone gives you a hint at what company he founded. Schultz? Starbucks. Both executives and founders left the company as did Jobs, albeit involuntary, but each came back after the company struggled only to rejuvenate their respective companies. Starbucks to all time high stock price.
Comparing Jobs with those mentioned maybe like comparing apples and oranges. But in Jobs' case, only time will tell how far the Apple falls from the tree.
His college acid dropping days, personal hygiene and diet, illegitimate child and coincidental, serendipitous encounter with his biological father are anecdotes you would expect from a biography but much more intriguing and fascinating here. Author of classics on Einstein and Franklin, Isaacson brings much credibility to his book, it's very believable, where as some biographies fail due to access or salacious innuendos.
Steve Jobs always wanted the last word and Isaacson allowed him to do so. In reading the biography, you'll never view Apple products the same way again.