Jack and I were at home digging through the headlines today. See what can happen during a three day weekend?
What we found were remarkably interesting insights into Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Power and money. Ruthless and shrewd.
The first was another memo, an email that was discovered about Microsoft’s tactics back when Apple was near death in 1997.
It appears that then Microsoft CEO Bill Gates had no qualms about shipping a new version of Mac Office but wanted concessions from Apple. Is that ruthless or hard bargaining? Perhaps it depends on which side of the table you sit.
Some of the headlines point to Microsoft’s attempt to use Mac users as “guinea pigs”, a sort of digital testing ground for features that might find their way into Windows Office in the future.
Ruthless use of customers, or standard business tactics? That isn’t much of a story as it appears to describe business as usual for Gates and Microsoft. There’s a link to the PDF which is more revealing.
Such revelations simply add to the ruthless persona of Bill Gates. On the other hand, Steve Jobs receives rock star status as a shred and savvy leader.
My case in point is another recent article regarding an apparently not-so-shrewd Steve Jobs dumping stock options worth billions and receiving options worth mere hundreds of millions.
The gist is that Jobs received enough stock from Apple that Fortune Magazine called it The Great CEO Pay Heist of 2001. Of course, that’s just stock, and the value changes over time.
Over time, Jobs received plenty of stock options which he rescinded in favor of a different stock compensation plan.
Geoff Colvin, writing in Money.com, pointed out that Jobs didn’t look too smart giving up stock that was eventually worth billions in favor of stock that was worth only $800-million or so.
In fact, Jobs offered to sell the stock to Colvin and Fortune for half what they said it was worth. They declined, but the stock was later worth billions. When Jobs gave up his stock for a different plan, Colvin called that one of the worst stock trades ever.
Colvin and Fortune gave up an opportunity for billions in profit by not taking Steve Jobs’ offer. Jobs received even more stock and more of a fortune years later. Dumping the original stock options may have kept him out of jail.
Meanwhile, Colvin and Fortune got nothing but a weak headline on an article that made them look dumber than Steve Jobs.
What’s the world coming to? Bill Gates wanted to crush Apple but ends up helping the company survive and now it prospers. Steve Jobs is so shrewd he gave up billions for millions but stayed out of jail. So far. Fortune’s Colvin at least admitted he should have taken the deal Jobs offered.
From our perspective, there’s a little madness in them all. The entertainment value isn’t worth billions but it’s worth viewing.