Between 1983 and 1993, John Sculley was at Apple serving as CEO. During his reign, Apple went from an $800 million franchise to an $8 billion franchise. His reign was famous for something else too: the termination of it’s own founder, Steve Jobs.
By 1985, Apple 3, Apple 2, and Lisa had either failed or was on life support. Now, everything depended on Macintosh, which needed funding in a hurry. You see, what’s hails today as one of the greatest computers ever was then little more than an object of ridicule. Jobs proposed the Macintosh price be dropped and most of the advertising be shifted from Apple 2 to Mac. Sculley opposed this move, and it went to the board. The board sided with Sculley. Jobs was removed as head on the Mac division, and the rest is history.
Sculley says Jobs wasn’t a good executive back then. I think Sculley’s background plays a part in this. During the interview last week, he blamed the board. But Sculley admits he came from a background where he had to be accountable to stockholders and other colleagues. Jobs was more of a revolutionary, convinced the Mac was going to change the world. Eventually, these two philosophies are going to clash, and they did here back in ’85. Logically, if I was in that boardroom, I would have sided with Sculley. I would’ve been thinking about the bottom line, and the bottom line was we need something to happen now, not in the future.? But this is why I have so much respect for Jobs. He stuck to his guns and knew he had a winner, and he was willing to risk it all. And eventually, he got the last laugh. Of course, this experience helped him become a better executive. I think we can all learn a lesson from one of most infamous showdowns in tech history. If you’re passionate enough about something, stick with it. You may fail, you may be ridiculed, and it may cost you, but keep persevering. Eventually, you too will have the last hurray. Can you imagine what life would be like today if Jobs gave in or gave up back in 1985?