Remembering Steve Jobs 5 Years After His Death

Our CEO, Asif Khan, looks back at Apple Inc.'s iconic founder five years after his death.


It has been 5 years since Steve Jobs passed away. Many publications write about how Apple Inc. has faired under Tim Cook's leadership post-Jobs, but I would like to look at what made Steve Jobs such a great CEO, founder, and entrepreneur. His life story is one of huge successes, a fall from grace, and a comeback that could have really only have happened in America.

Steve Jobs was a multimillionaire by the age of 22. He and his friend Steve Wozniak had brought the Apple II to market and Apple's IPO had made them both extremely wealthy. Their success was attributable to a trait that many great entrepreneurs have. They made something that didn't exist that they themselves wanted. It was that love of the product and drive to accomplish their goals that made Apple Computer Inc. a darling of Wall Street in the early 80s.

Jobs was human, and the early success of Apple Computer definitely went to his head. He was not an engineer and could barely code, but he definitely wasn't afraid to take credit for the success of their products. It was that ego that lead him to push the company towards graphical user interface with the launch of the Macintosh. That strategic decision and the fallout with Apple Computer's board lead to his departure from the company. He was 30 years old and had left the company he founded. He liquidated almost all of his shares in the company and at a bad price. Most people thought he would never be able to recover from such a devastating series of failures, but the path that laid ahead of him was one of redemption and success.

Steve Jobs took the proceeds from his sale of Apple Computer's stock and invested in two companies, Next and Pixar. We all know how the story played out. Pixar would make Steve Jobs a billionaire as they were acquired by Disney in 2006. Next was be acquired by a struggling Apple Computer in 1997. Steve Jobs was given a second chance to run the company that he had founded. He had learned how to operate a company in his time at Next and Pixar and came back to Apple with a laser focus on how to turnaround the company.

Apple Inc. was 90 days away from bankrupcty when he returned, and Jobs was surprised to see so many great people still working at Apple. "Why are you still here?" he asked. The response he frequently received was that "I bleed in six colors," a reference to the original Apple logo. It was the original culture of making great products and attention to detail that had kept Apple afloat during his absence. It was this spirit that lead to the "Think Different" campaign which was more of a rallying cry within the company than a traditional product advertisement.

Jobs laid out a grand vision for the company at this internal meeting at Apple in 1997.

The next 13 years at Apple were full of amazing product announcements, transitions to new industries, and an insanely great run in the share price. Jobs infused an attention to detail and laser focus to the company's product design. At the time he passed away in 2011, Apple was the largest company in the tech sector. "For those of us that have been around for awhile, it is kinda surreal," said Jobs at All Things D in 2010 regarding Apple surpassing Microsoft in market capitalization.

Today Apple Inc. is the largest company in the world with a market capitalzation of $611 billion. Jobs left the company in great financial health, but he took with him many intangibles that only he had brought to the table. Although he wasn't a trained engineer, he was able to look at products from a completely different standpoint. Jobs had ideas that "would sometimes take the air from the room and they left us both completely silent," said Jony Ive at Apple's Memorial for Steve. "Bold, crazy, magnificent ideas or quiet, simple ones which in their subtley and detail were utterly profound." 

Jobs was the ultimate American entrpreneur. He is a rags to riches story that will inspire people for generations to not accept the status quo. He has inspired a generation of people to try and make a dent in the universe, but he left his fans waiting for one more thing.

His last public appearance was at the Cupertino City Hall to present the plans for Apple's Spaceship Campus. I believe Apple doubters should pay close attention to the fact that while Steve Jobs helped design this new headquarters, it will not open until next year. 

I believe that Steve Jobs' greatest invention was Apple. We are now witnessing his legacy play out with a team that he put together and a roadmap he helped shape. "He embodied who we are, it was his vision that Apple should make the best products and it was his vision that they should enrich people's lives," Tim Cook said in a recent interview with Orin Hatch. "Lots of other things will change with Apple, but that will never change."

I am one of the fans of Steve Jobs who believes that we have not seen the last product that he influenced. Apple is notoriously slow at releasing products and Jobs conceptualized products before they were even financially or technologically feasible. Only time will tell if we have already seen Steve Jobs' one last thing. On the anniversary of his death, the least we can do is think about all the happiness he brought to the world. He is a role model for entrepreneurs everywhere and his comeback from his earlier fall from grace is something that will always be a source of inspiration for myself.


Asif Khan is the CEO, EIC, and majority shareholder of Shacknews. He began his career in video game journalism as a freelancer in 2001 for Asif is a CPA and was formerly an investment adviser representative. After much success in his own personal investments, he retired from his day job in financial services and is currently focused on new private investments. His favorite PC game of all time is Duke Nukem 3D, and he is an unapologetic fan of most things Nintendo. Asif first frequented the Shack when it was sCary's Shugashack to find all things Quake. When he is not immersed in investments or gaming he is a purveyor of fine electronic music. Asif also has an irrational love of Cleveland sports.

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