Steve Jobs and Apple, Inc

Article excerpt

CASE DESCRIPTION

The primary issues in this case involve business startup and management, and are appropriate for entrepreneurship and management courses. A secondary issue demonstrates how personal drive and motivation are critical components of successfully managing and growing a business, thereby making this case appropriate for discussion on the topic of strategic management. The case chronicles the life and passion of entrepreneur, Steve Jobs - illustrating the rise, fall, and current state of the Apple Computer Company. The case has a difficulty level 2 and is designed to be covered within one (75 minute) class period. The required preparation time is about 2 hours. It is appropriate for small business, entrepreneurship, or management classes. The purpose of this case is to illustrate to students how individual passion, determination, and innovation is a critical element in business start up success and also to stimulate critical thinking in terms of future direction for a company in a struggling economy.

CASE SYNOPSIS

The Apple Computer Company is arguably one of the most innovative technology companies to emerge in the last three decades. Apple, Inc. is responsible for bringing to market such products as the Macintosh computer and laptop, iPod and iTunes, and most recently, the iPhone. The success of the company can be traced primarily to a single individual - founder, Steven Jobs. Jobs and his friend, Steve Wozniak founded and built Apple into a 32 billion dollar company. The company enjoyed much success during the past decade with its stock price hitting a high of $200 in 2007. More recently, the stock has retreated to around $90 causing a massive decline in shareholder wealth. Today, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is faced with the challenge of resurrecting his once dominant company in light of weak economic conditions and sub-par personal health. The case chronicles the life of Steve Jobs, the rise of Apple, Inc. and his personal challenges as CEO of the company to continue to provide innovative products to a marketplace of technology avid consumers.

INTRODUCTION

In late 2008, amid the swirling news reports and rumors of his failing health, Steve Jobs, the co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of Apple, Inc. issued the following statement to his employees at Apple's international corporate headquarters in Cupertino, California. "We are in the worst economic environment since the Great Depression. However, we are determined to continue to make Apple the most innovative company in the world while increasing shareholder wealth. While hundreds of companies are firing employ ees, we have no intention ofdoingso. JVe will overcome this challenging economic environment and remain a strong innovative company. While others will decrease spending we will increase spending on R&D and come out way ahead of our competition in the long run."

Jobs co-founded Apple Computer with Steve Wozniak in 1976. After founding Apple, Jobs was fired by the company's board of directors 1 0 years later at age 30. After his termination, he went on to create two more companies. During this period Apple went through three different CEOs and their stock price dropped to $2 a share. As a result, Jobs was invited back to join the company as CEO. Not only did Jobs rejuvenate Apple, but it flourished. Jobs led the company to the forefront with cutting edge products and their stock price grew to around $200 a share by 2007. However, in 2008 Apple's stock price had dropped to around $90 due to the recession around the world. Fortunately, Apple had an abundance of cash (approximately $9 billion) on hand with no debt. The company was one of the few companies, large or small, that was able to operate with virtually no debt.

After his speech, Jobs walked into his office and sat down. Based on current economic conditions around the world, he wondered what his next steps should be to increase shareholder's wealth. Apple never issued dividends and this policy worked well for them over the years. …