Steve got on stage at the front of the room in Infinite Loop 4, and put a huge, larger than life picture of Michael Dell on the wall. He repeated the news fodder that Michael Dell had been asked recently what he would do if he was running Apple Computer. (At the time, Dell was the ultimate success story in the PC industry.) Dell said that he would liquidate the company and return the cash to shareholders.
A few gasps, a few jeers and some general murmuring in the audience. But I don’t think they expected what he said next.
And you know what? He’s right.
The world doesn’t need another Dell or HP. It doesn’t need another manufacturer of plain, beige, boring PCs. If that’s all we’re going to do, then we should really pack up now.
But we’re lucky, because Apple has a purpose. Unlike anyone in the industry, people want us to make products that they love. In fact, more than love. Our job is to make products that people lust for. That’s what Apple is meant to be.
What’s BMW’s market share of the auto market? Does anyone know? Well, it’s less than 2%, but no one cares. Why? Because either you drive a BMW or you stare at the new one driving by. If we do our job, we’ll make products that people lust after, and no one will care about our market share.
Apple is a start-up. Granted, it’s a startup with $6B in revenue, but that can and will go in an instant. If you are here for a cushy 9-to-5 job, then that’s OK, but you should go. We’re going to make sure everyone has stock options, and that they are oriented towards the long term. If you need a big salary and bonus, then that’s OK, but you should go. This isn’t going to be that place. There are plenty of companies like that in the Valley. This is going to be hard work, possibly the hardest you’ve ever done. But if we do it right, it’s going to be worth it.
He then clicked through to a giant bullseye overlayed on Michael Dell’s face.
I don’t care what Michael Dell thinks. If we do our job, he’ll be wrong. Let’s prove him wrong.
All I can remember is thinking: “Wow. Now that’s how you regroup, refocus and set a company in motion.” I had seen speeches by Gil Amelio in 1996, and there was nothing comparable. Please remember, at this point in time it wasn’t at all obvious that Steve or Apple would actually succeed. But I felt like I’d witnessed a little piece of history.