Steve Jobs Against All Odds
He spent his early school years dreaming up pranks, dropped out of college after just six months, and was booted out from the company he co-founded. But Steve Jobs went on to build an empire that revolutionized the world. This change is why Steve Jobs, against all the odds, is one of our favorite financial heroes.
The early years
A brilliant child, Jobs was quickly bored in school. His extraordinary performance on exams prompted school administrators to suggest he skip a grade, but his parents rejected the idea.
The young Jobs was fascinated by electronics. His father, a machinist by trade, often would invite Jobs to work with him on electronics in the family garage. Under Paul Jobs’ tutelage, the small boy learned how to take machines apart and then reconstruct them, a hobby that filled him with confidence and proficiency with electronics.
Jobs was introduced to his future business partner, Steve Wozniak while attending Homestead High School. The two bonded instantly and kept up steady contact through Apple’s official launch several years later.
After graduating high school, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Ore., dropping out after just six months. For the next year and a half, he drifted aimlessly, taking the occasional creative class at Reed.
In 1976, at 21 years old, Jobs was ready to make his mark in the world of technology. His singular goal: “To put computers in the hands of everyday people.”
Together with Wozniak, Jobs launched Apple Computer, a small corporation based out of the Jobs’ family garage. Jobs sold his Volkswagen bus, and Wozniak traded in his beloved scientific calculator to help fund the venture. They were ready to do anything to make it happen.
The pair pooled their smarts and skills to create computers that were small, cheap, and accessible to the everyday consumer. With Jobs in charge of marketing and Wozniak working on production, the Apple I was rolled out, retailing at $666.66. The personal computer earned the young corporation $774K. The Apple II followed soon after, increasing the company’s sales by 700 percent in just three years to a staggering $139 million.
Apple Computer became a publicly-traded company in 1980, with a market value of $1.2 billion by the end of its first day of trading. Jobs then asked marketing expert John Sculley, of Pepsi-Cola, to take over the role of CEO for Apple.
The next few products Apple launched had significant design flaws, leading to recalls and growing consumer disappointment. Sculley, believing Jobs was hurting the company, urged Apple’s executives to push him out subtly. Jobs got a more marginalized position, triggering his departure from the company in 1985.
After leaving Apple, Jobs launched a hardware and software enterprise called NeXT, Inc. The tech company created a specialized operating system, but the product didn’t enamor the everyday consumer.
While working on the development of computer-generated graphics for animated movies, Jobs, in 1986, took an interest in Lucasfilm, Ltd. He acquired the company and turned it into Pixar Animation Studios. The company dabbled in several small projects with varying degrees of success until the release of the hit movie Toy Story in 1995. Jobs was named the executive producer of the film. Pixar thrived under his leadership, becoming one of the most successful animated movie studios of all time, producing titles like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. The company merged with Walt Disney in 2006, making Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder.
Apple purchased NeXT in 1996 for $429 million and asked Jobs to return to a leadership position in Apple. Jobs agreed, assuming the role of interim CEO from 1997 to 2000 and then becoming permanent CEO until his eventual resignation in August of 2011.
When Jobs accepted the role of CEO at Apple, he quickly put together a new management team, modified the stock options, and started rolling out a line of innovative products.
The first product launched under Jobs’ reinstated leadership was the iMac. The personal computer didn’t offer improved performance or functionality over any competing product, but it looked fantastic and a bit different from the norm. Consumers loved it. More than 800,000 iMacs sold within five months.
From there, Jobs went on to build an empire, rolling out revolutionary products like the iPod and the iPhone, but his real genius was marketing. Before the release of any product, he’d drop hints about its release to the press. He’d also purposely leave a gap between a new product’s anticipated demand and its supply, creating a frantic rush toward its purchase. Through his brilliant marketing, the company acquired a cult-like following.
A Diagnosis of cancer in 2003, did not slow Jobs down. He continued serving in his capacity as CEO until his resignation on Aug. 24, 2011. He died a few months later, on Oct. 5.
Steve Jobs is a legend whose imprint will be felt for years to come. Now you know some of the reasons why Steve Jobs was against all the odds. Even though many times his journey was challenging and deflating, he stayed with it and became an inspiration and an incredible leader. Could you be the next Steve Jobs?