Steve Jobs is no longer with us. Steve worked right up to the end. And left us with a legacy. Some stars shine brighter than others, and those that do often burn out instead of fading away.
Steve was one one of those stars.
Thanks, Steve for what you’ve left behind. Where would we start? The world’s greatest music player (iPhone/iPod touch)? The best OS (Mac OSX)? I think I’d settle for something that would make Steve very happy. Steve, thanks for making products that “just work.” They weren’t the flashiest (though they often were). They didn’t have the best specs (“What no camera?” “What, no floppy drive?”). And yes they were expensive. But wow, they always worked.
By comparison, we have Mark Hurd. Oh Mark, what did you reap? What did you sow? Fucking nothing. If Steve was a gentle farmer, you’re slash and burn. Steve cultivated the land and nurtured it so that those after him could continue growing and creating.
Mark? What did he do to the land? It’s saddening, really. As much as we tell Mark to fuck off around here, he’s the one who really fucked things over. Fucked people over. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. Our words won’t hurt Mark, but what he did has hurt hundreds of thousands.
So with that intro, lets compare: Steve vs Mark.
Stock price when Hurd took over HP: ~$20. Stock price today: $25.
Stock price when Steve took over Apple: ~$20. Stock price today: ~$300.
Steve: Steve hired the best and brightest. He recruited new CEO Tim Cook from HP! Steve rewarded his people and they thrived. Apple has grown and grown and grown. Employees are some of the happiest in the industry.
Hurd: In addition to the thousands and thousands of layoffs, Hurd slashed employee pay by 5%, cut the 401k matching by 50% and made it discretionary, and elminated the company bonus in favor of individual performance bonuses. Basically, he set the employees against each other, and cut-cut-cut. Oh and gave himself a salary cut, but increased his bonus. Genius. Those he didn’t fire are leaving in droves.
Steve introduced the iPod, iPad, iTunes music store, AppleTV, and on and on. He’s left a pipeline of new products behind.
Mark? Oh he creates short term profit by slashing and slashing and slashing. On Hurd’s watch HP became the largest company selling computers, but his focus on selling a commodity at razor thin margins didn’t bode well. His dash to become a data-center supplier offeneded customers and found his competitors moving into HP’s ground as HP moved into theirs. Way to piss off your strategic partners. As someone who worked in R&D during Hurd’s tenure, I personally saw how he pulled money out of new business development and starved great, innovative ideas. HP was working on smartphones (iPaq’s, etc) for as long as anyone – how did they miss developing the iPhone? Probably, Hurd was too cheap.
Steve not only leaves behind perhaps the most valuable firm in the world. He developed leaders behind him. And he created an Apple University to enshrine and perpetuate the culture he created.
Mark took the venerable HP-Way, a culture developed by HP’s Jobs-esque founder Dave and Bill, and crushed it. Gone was the idea that everyone was working hard on their goals, instead replaced by business-unit performance and individual performance. Gone was the idea that there were no keys to the garage and tools, gone was the teamwork of the past. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, said Mr. Hurd. I suspect HP’s new leaders will ressurect the HP-Way in a 21st century way. But the damage has been done. HP is lost, it’s morale shattered, it’s stock price down, and its brand wounded. That’s Mark’s legacy. If you work for Mark now, I’d watch out.
If you haven’t read the Steve Jobs biography, it’s an amazing read, and I loved it. It’s more than just a history of Steve Jobs, it’s the history of Apple, the history of the personal computer, and the history of the internet.
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