From Bankruptcy to a Trillion Dollar Valuation: Story of How Apple Came Back From the Dead

This is the cover of Business Week from February 1996. Apple was just 90 days away from bankruptcy and the company that literally started the revolution in personal computers, was about to go down the lanes of history. It was then that the board of directors at Apple took the most sane decision in the history of companies 20 years existence. To buy NeXT Computers, and effectively bring back Steve Jobs.

After being ousted from the company for over a decade (this part of the story breaks my heart), Steve finally returned to Apple in 1997. Realising he doesn’t have the luxury of time to fix everything wrong at Apple, he moves things at a lightening pace. Apple those days made range of computer models making it hard to know which computer was good for which user. Steve reduced the production to only 4 variants. “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” Steve said. This philosophy of saying ‘No’ can be seen at Apple to this day. While other companies rush to manufacture every fancy new stuff they can make, Apple takes time to evaluate it’s need. Apple was not the first to manufacture smart phone, or the smart watches or the wireless charging. But it is usually the first to perfect it. “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.”

In just 1 year since his return, Steve started a streak of ‘i’ products. Starting with iMac in 1998, iPod in 2001, and iTunes store in 2003, which started the age of digital downloads. Apple’s Market Cap soared from ashes to the skies.

In Jan 2006, Apple’s Market Cap surpassed that of Dell, the company whose founder once said that he will “shut down Apple and return the money to it’s shareholders”

(How do you like them apples, Michael Dell?)

In 2007, walks up the stage to unveil the mighty iPhone. He described it as “a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls and a breakthrough internet communication device.” Everything you can expect a phone to do, way ahead of it’s time. Steve Ballmer ridiculed by saying who wants to buy a phone which doesn’t even have a keyboard? Apple has sold over a billion iPhones and 60% of companies revenue coming from iPhone alone.

In 2012, Apple became the most valuable company on the planet and has held the crown ever since.

It took Apple only 16 years from being close to bankruptcy, to being the most valuable company on the planet.

On 2nd August 2018, Apple became the first US company to surpass 1 Trillion Dollar Valuation.Today Apple is not only the most valuable company, but also the most profitable company on the planet making over $1500 profits every second!

This should be one of the best examples of what a great leader can help accomplish!

(I have written more about Steve Jobs and Apple on my blog/ timeline than anything else, & I can’t help it. Everything that I come across in daily life, I think of a similar story in the life of Apple/ SJ. Apples success feels like my success, although I don’t own any shares in Apple. Maybe that’s what they call love!)

Founder, MTJF - More Than Just Friends