Put Steve Jobs Back in Charge!!!

CobraBoy (tbyars@earthlink.net)
Sat, 22 Feb 1997 09:08:35 -0800

By John C. Dvorak

Apple is appearing more and more like
pre-Gerstner IBM as it develops into a
slow-moving company losing money in an up
market while others flourish. This is a
deteriorating condition that's made even
worse as Apple executives cut themselves
bonuses out of thin air while contemplating
more employee layoffs.

The most recent catastrophe was the departure
of the talented Heidi Roizen, who
was brought into the company to beef up
developer relations. According to insiders,
Apple has become riddled with do-nothing
managers intent on scheduling meetings
everyday to discuss "things." Roizen, once a
developer herself, could only take so
much of consensus management in an industry
that requires strong leadership and
action. Action is the operative word.
Apparently, there isn't any.

That's the irony of modern high technology.
The strong companies tend to have
strong, top-heavy executive suites with a
benevolent autocrat. The hippy-dippy "let's
all agree to it" notions proposed by B-school
idealists simply cannot work in an
industry where fast-paced change is the norm.
Though the know-it-all visionary
approach to management has obvious drawbacks,
especially when the visionary is a
lunatic or mistake-prone, it has nonetheless
proven effective.

To survive, Apple must immediately replace
Gil Amelio with Steve Jobs. Since the
ouster of Jobs, the company shot up like a
bullet in the sky, but it was simply sheer
momentum that made it rise to its height of
success. It's now apparent that there was
no "oomph," for want of a technical term,
behind the projectile. It was a bullet, not a

What is all too apparently missing at Apple
is the visionary at the top, and it's now
obvious that the company cannot continue
without one. If the company is going to
blow up, it should at least have done
everything it can to survive, and that includes
making Steve Jobs the president and CEO of
the company again. This should
include an apology from the board of
directors for firing him in the first place.

Apple's missed opportunities will soon
multiply as the moribund Newton looks to be
the next casualty. This is happening just as
the market for such devices appears to
be forming. I was in a meeting with seven
people the other day, and three of them
were carrying those USR Pilots. Each person
raved about the usefulness of such a
device. Now that the ARM microprocessor used
by Newton appears to be world class
and Newton technology seems to be maturing,
the company is thinking of dropping
the project. Apple has also hinted that it
may drop software R&D and maybe software
altogether. This comes from a company that
many had idealized as being really a
software company that happens to sell
hardware. This would not be happening if
Jobs was still running the company.

Another advantage of putting Jobs back in
charge is his recent success with Pixar
and the sale of NeXT, which lend him the ego
boost he needs to thrive. And let's not
forget that nothing makes for a competitive
environment like a good grudge. Bill
Gates, after all, hung Jobs out to dry when
he made sure that no development effort
by Microsoft would go into the NeXT platform.
In fact, Gates ridiculed Jobs, likening
NeXT to a 37 rpm recording standard. You can
be sure that Jobs hasn't forgotten
about that. Also, Jobs can attract the
original cultists, many of whom still adore and
worship him as their one true leader. Newbies
can be introduced to this cult and
cajoled into coding the great program.

Jobs also brings back to the company
something it lost--corporate charisma. Jobs
glows when he's on stage. He's mesmerizing
and stylish. Amelio looks as if he's the
head of the meat-packers union perpetually
asking for renomination. Spindler,
disheveled and pudgy, was even worse. And
Sculley was simply too boring. In fact,
all the colorful characters at the company
are gone. The company began with "flash
and sizzle" as a marketing tool. It has to
recapture that somehow, and the only thing it
can do is put Steve Jobs back in charge.

The real reason I'm calling for this bold
move is that Apple was once the industry
leader, introducing users to many new
concepts and ideas. With Apple innovation,
there was always something the PC world could
copy and adopt. I'd like to see Apple
get back on that track.


If you can get someone who's smart enough to help you,
sometimes you put up with some of their idiocyncracies. - Gil Amelio

<> tbyars@earthlink.net <>