For this week’s Monday Note, the plans was to calmly traverse the field of investment opportunities as redefined, upended is a better word, or narrowed, by what is shaping up as depression. I used to write recession or recession/depression but, now, even the Washington sages are now losing their calm. Today, they’re conceding: the bailout plans aren’t working, the banking universe is stuck: the hundreds of billions aren’t rebooting the system, banks aren’t lending enough to businesses and individuals. Next step: more taxpayer money into a government bank tasked with buying toxic assets. Sigh…
But I want to talk about another kind of depression and turn it into a celebration.
In the space of 10 days or so, we’ve heard twice from Steve Jobs. Actually, from Apple lawyers, the letter had to be carefully crafted, there are other nasty lawyers out there ready to file shareholder suits. First, Steve tells us he’s struggling with ‘hormonal imbalance’, amenable to a ‘relatively simple’ treatment. Define the following words, in unambiguous terms: hormone, imbalance and simple.
Barely a week after the first missive, Steve’s health issues are now said, by the same truth-tellers, to be more complicated than originally thought. He’s taking a six-month medical leave of absence. Fodder for the kommentariat.
For us here in the Valley, this is sad and unreal. We’ve enjoyed three decades of Apple and a quarter century of Macintosh, and iPods and iPhones. By turns or simultaneously, Steve has been lauded and criticized, both on grounds of substance and style, sometimes excessively, often rightly. Yes, he’s impossible and many other things such as dictatorial or having his way with facts. But look at what he’s achieved, the fun, the fire and, let’s not forget, the gold, the wealth he’s created for his followers, shareholders and co-workers. Is there such thing as a ‘normal’ genius?
So, we thought the fun would go on for ever, he’s only 53! Every year would bring a new set of surprises, bold moves and the occasional clunker. Now, we’re forced to remember what the man himself said about The End in his 2005 Stanford speech. But, instead of wringing our hands, instead of worrying about the future, about Apple After Steve, let’s contemplate the achievements of his 30-year career and, I’m only half-serious, build him seven statues for:
1. The Apple ][
2. The original Macintosh
3. Pixar, now owned by Disney, making Steve the biggest individual shareholder
4. Coming back and giving the Macintosh its second , brilliantly successful life
5. iPod and iTunes, forcing the music industry into the (legal) digital age
6. The Apple Stores, great customer experience, best revenue per square foot of any retail industry
and, of course,
7. The iPhone, already half a billion applications downloaded, between 30 and 40 million units to be sold this year.
Who else can hold up such a résumé?
Personally, I’m in Steve’s debt, I wouldn’t be here in the Valley if it weren’t for him, for the opportunities he created — some unwittingly, see the his firing episode in the Stanford speech.
Like the Rest of Us, I hope for his speedy recovery, for another magical act, for an eighth statue. -JLG