Sunday, October 9, 2011

Why Steve Jobs was Fired from Apple

One of the most intriguing chapters in Steve's stellar career and life was his being fired from Apple. Steve Jobs was fired in 1985 from a company he founded after a power struggle with then Apple CEO John Sculley that led to the Apple Board voting him out and leaving him in the wilderness for 12 years until 1997 when he rejoined Apple as the CEO and took Apple on the path to victory.

In 1984, Steve convinced John Sculley, the Pepsi Cola President to join Apple as CEO while Steve immersed himself in several projects and technology developments at Apple. However, the young headstrong Steve soon had a clash with his "boss" on the direction of the company and Steve wanted to be CEO again.

Steve made a plan to get rid of Sculley from the CEO job by sending him to China and organizing a corporate coup d'etat. Sculley went to China but soon enough got wind of Steve's plot and rushed back to the United States just in time to conspire with the Apple Board to throw Steve out. Everyone on the board voted against Steve Jobs, the board was apparently unhappy with Steve's indiscipline.

Steve Job's problems at Apple started when Apple was designing a personal computer LISA. Steve was expelled from this project in 1982 and asked to work for Macintosh. LISA was presented in 1983 and it did not perform well. Though, people believe it was a marketing failure. While the project assigned to Steve - Macintosh did extremely well. Steve now lost faith on Scullery and he wanted the control back. He started doing odd things like late night meetings and long faxes and many nondisciplinary activities. The Board lost patience with him. The China tour was therefore just the final trigger for the Board to get rid of this troublesome genius.

This was one of the few rare cases were a company founder was fired from his own company. After leaving Apple, Steve started an another company NeXT, which was bought by Apple in 1996, though the deal was done to bring Steve back in Apple. Steve, was appointed the CEO of Apple in 1997 and since then , he has done an impressive job building the company into the largest technology company in the world.

However, Steve's 12 years absence proved the worst years for Apple. Apple faced many financial crisis in this period. The state of the company was summed up by Gilbert Frank Amelio in 1997, 
"Apple is like a ship with a hole in the bottom, leaking water, and my job is to get the ship pointed in the right direction" :)

Here are Steve's Jobs own words from the episode:

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
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