Steve Jobs changed everything.
He and Bill Gates changed the way we look at college dropouts. He changed the way that we buy, store, and listen to music. Through Pixar he changed the nature of animated movies. He altered the way we see the garage-entrepreneur. He made business cool in his trademark black turtleneck and jeans. And he forever affected the way we interact with our personal technology.
Although he had a tremendous business and cultural impact, he was a serial failure before he was a success. He failed to manage the Mac’s initial entry into the market; he failed to produce durable hardware at NeXT, he failed to turn Apple around when he came back, eventually going cap-in-hand to Bill Gates for a bailout.
But he had an uncanny ability to divine trends in technology and popular culture. It’s telling that he made his mark in the largely unregulated world of high-tech computing. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Steve Jobs had started out in pharmaceuticals, or energy, or banking. If he had had to get the government’s permission to disrupt the music business or remake the telecom industry, we might not have our iWhatevers, or at least, they would be a lot more expensive.
And Steve Jobs gave growth investing a good name. From the heyday of the Mac in the mid-‘80s Apple has grown 20% per year—although an investor would have had to stick with the company through a 60% decline three times: in ’85, in ‘95 and in 2001.
So lift your iPhone 4s to Steve Jobs. He will be missed.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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