Doesn't everyone sit and play Steve Jobs's new product introduction keynote addresses over and over?
I know, it's his schtick, and comedians should be parodying it, but he does it because it works, even with the predictable jeans and black mock turtleneck. Each time I try to guess how much more his hair has thinned, how well he looks in recovering from his illness. I have to care. What would my world be like without Steve Jobs in it?
In the world of traditionalist High Priests (Hierophants), he's a High Priestess. He sits between the two pillars in front of a pomegranate curtain, the bottom of the skirts of the Empress (the goddess of creativity). He says, "Come, let's see what's behind my curtain."
And we watch as he starts his reveal, peeling back the layers in the extended "and... and... and..."
Which would mean little if what was behind the curtains were not so utterly dazzling, were not such exemplary design. Put me in an audience with Steve on stage, and you couldn't make me leave, not for a movie premiere, or a cliffhanger of my favorite TV show. Right now I can't even think what it would take to upstage Steve, for me, at least.
Yes, I know this is demagoguery, and I'm very silly. Gush gush gush. I want to invent things with huge teams of engineers, like Steve has at his disposal. In another age, he might be William Blake or Shakespeare or Picasso, but his canvas is technology and communication devices, communication revolutions. I've been on this ride since BEFORE 1984, and I'm not getting off any time soon.
Here's another fun article on the topic:
The iReality of options
What a show.
Steve Jobs is in a class by himself when it comes to the technology product launch as consumer spectacle. Jobs practically invented the concept years ago, and proved this week that he remains peerless in his ability to knock the socks off a normally jaded crowd. Apple Inc.'s glitzy iPhone isn't for sale yet, and the company doesn't even own the rights to the name. But the new phone is an unqualified hit.
The iPhone launch went so well this week that it was easy to lose sight of the fact that Apple and Jobs have a big problem on their hands. Apple's acknowledged past practice of backdating employee stock options and the company's investigation into its own actions leave a lot of serious questions to be answered.
Of course, Apple isn't the only company with a stock-option investigation on its hands. Nearly 200 public companies have been caught up in the scandal. Dozens of executives have retired, been fired, or otherwise pushed out of their companies, and a few have been charged with crimes.
Not everyone is incensed by the options scandal. Some see it as an empty creation of corporate governance scolds. Those skeptics have seized the Apple situation and posed a question: What are you going to do, fire Steve Jobs?
That's a good question because we could come to learn that Jobs did or failed to do things, crossing thresholds that got other chief executives fired. And that would be a disaster.
Steve Jobs is the force of ambition, innovation, and vision at Apple, influencing a big company to a degree matched by few other chief executives. He has built Apple into a real leader and made his shareholders huge amounts of money in the process.
Since Jobs returned to the company as interim chief executive in 1997, Apple shares have earned more than 34 percent a year. The stock has appreciated by nearly $10 billion in just the two days since the iPhone was unveiled. Whatever Apple's future, it depends heavily on Jobs.
While Apple was preparing for its iPhone launch, the options-backdating story dripped out in stages, and Jobs seems to be more involved in each new version.
More than 6,000 options grants were improperly dated at Apple, and Jobs sometimes recommended specific dates. The record shows Jobs himself was awarded options at a board meeting that never really took place. But Jobs did not get much, if any, personal benefit from the options that were later swapped for stock.
A small committee of outside directors, including Al Gore, investigated. Its conclusion: Two former executives were to blame. Jobs didn't appreciate the accounting issue. He's all clear.
Apple was never going to throw Steve Jobs under the options bus. But how should stockholders think about Jobs and all the other executives in similar situations?
That depends on the answers to these three questions:
How bad were the specific offenses? What was the motivation? What has the executive contributed to his company and its shareholders?
Apple's misdated options were widespread, but I'm still not sure how culpable its chief executive is. Some executives who lost their jobs were options-abuse pigs, but Jobs clearly does not fall into that camp. Finally, Jobs has directly created many billions of dollars of value for Apple stockholders in the past decade.