Yet, billionaires are everywhere in Silicon Valley. That’s what happens when founder’s companies get excessive valuations– think Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg as one, plus Microsoft’s Bill Gates and others who were around from near the beginning. Apple? Only Steve Jobs.
The Bloomberg argument goes something like this: “If Apple is the richest company in the world, then why doesn’t it spawn any billionaires?”
One can argue that Apple, already well over 40 years old, never spawned another billionaire beyond Jobs because back in the early days there were no billionaires in technology. A few investors in recent years– Carl Icahn and Warren Buffet come to mind– may have made a few billion in profits from AAPL investments, but they were billionaires already.
Other than Jobs, Apple has never spawned a billionaire.
Most of Jobs’ wealth came from selling Pixar to Disney. As an Apple co-founder, Jobs made a few hundred million dollars along the way, and if he had kept his 26-percent stake in Apple from 1977 it would be worth over $160-billion today. Collin Dodds wrote that Jobs owned 11-percent of Apple in 1985 when his was kicked out and started NeXT. That would be worth more than $69-billion today, but Jobs sold out for around $130 million back then. Stock grants after Jobs second coming helped push is AAPL-inspired wealth to about $2-billion before his death in 2011.
Apple doesn’t deserve any new billionaires, and certainly Tim Cook is not deserving since his successful tenure is based more along the product lines that Steve Jobs built from 1997 to 2011.
Yes, Cook is overseer of Apple’s financial fortunes, but as a steward to the legacy, the CEO’s reign seems to be more about accessories than disrupting whole product markets the way Jobs did with Apple, Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and iPad. Cook’s legacy is more Watch, AirPods, profits, dividends, and share buybacks. It would be a sad state of affairs if Cook’s wealth topped a billion dollars based on that track record.
Don’t get me wrong. Apple’s executives, directors, engineers, designers, and managers deserve to be well compensated because the company and all its products are very successful. Billionaire ranks are reserved for investors and entrepreneurs.