Apple’s endowment

This is from last fall, and the specifics have changed slightly, but I liked this idea of what Apple could do with all its money. (Excluding, perhaps, the Facebook idea.)

They don’t need all that cash. But think of this in terms decades, in terms of the ultimate legacy of Steve Jobs. He is certainly the tech zeitgeist of our era. But he also has built Apple to survive for many, many years, many decades. What if they have $100 billion on the balance sheet in a year’s time, and, following the endowment model, they spend just 5% to 6% per year of that. That’s more than enough for them [to cover investment and R&D needs]. Now think about a couple years from now, when they have maybe $200 billion on the balance sheet. That would be maybe $10 billion to $12 billion per year they could spend. They have such an endowment if you will, so much money, it keeps them in the game forever. They could be swept away by some tech trend we can’t even imagine in the next 5 to 10 years. And if so, they could buy a company, or buy a collection of companies. It gives them optionality, in other words. If they decided social media is going to be a key part of things, they could buy Facebook. But it keeps them in the game like very few other tech companies.

Apple also manages the world’s largest hedge fund.

Apple’s endowment

“Market research is what you do when your product isn’t any good.”

This piece about Steve Jobs’ admiration for Edwin Lands, the founder of Polaroid, had a bunch of interesting bits to pull out.

At Polaroid, Land used to hire Smith College’s smartest art-history majors and send them off for a few science classes, in order to create chemists who could keep up when his conversation turned from Maxwell’s equations to Renoir’s brush strokes.

Most of all, Land believed in the power of the scientific demonstration. Starting in the 60s, he began to turn Polaroid’s shareholders’ meetings into dramatic showcases for whatever line the company was about to introduce. In a perfectly art-directed setting, sometimes with live music between segments, he would take the stage, slides projected behind him, the new product in hand, and instead of deploying snake-oil salesmanship would draw you into Land’s World. By the end of the afternoon, you probably wanted to stay there.

The two men met at least twice. John Sculley, the Apple C.E.O. who eventually clashed with Jobs, was there for one meeting, when Jobs made a pilgrimage to Land’s labs in Cambridge, Mass., and wrote in his autobiography that both men described a singular experience: “Dr. Land was saying: ‘I could see what the Polaroid camera should be. It was just as real to me as if it was sitting in front of me, before I had ever built one.’ And Steve said: ‘Yeah, that’s exactly the way I saw the Macintosh.’ He said, If I asked someone who had only used a personal calculator what a Macintosh should be like, they couldn’t have told me. There was no way to do consumer research on it, so I had to go and create it and then show it to people and say, ‘Now what do you think?’”

The worldview he was describing perfectly echoed Land’s: “Market research is what you do when your product isn’t any good.” And his sense of innovation: “Every significant invention,” Land once said, “must be startling, unexpected, and must come into a world that is not prepared for it. If the world were prepared for it, it would not be much of an invention.” Thirty years later, when a reporter asked Jobs how much market research Apple had done before introducing the iPad, he responded, “None. It isn’t the consumers’ job to know what they want.”

Via Stellar

Chris drew the quotation from the title of this post.

“Market research is what you do when your product isn’t any good.”

Steve Jobs links

I don’t often feel sad or feel sadness, but I do sometimes in times of collective sadness. I’m not sure why. Last night I was on an airplane when it was announced that Steve Jobs had died. When I saw 4 random posts about Jobs on Tumblr, I knew right away. Growing up, the first computer I remember using was a IIgs, but we had at least one model before that. We also had a Performa after that. My first computer at college was a black and white Mac laptop with a 500 MB HD. Etc etc.

I sometimes collect as much about a story in one place as I can, almost as a personal reference for the future. (The Comprehensive Election Reactions Round Up from Obama’s election is a good example). I haven’t done it recently, but figured now would be a good time. Here’s most of what I looked at yesterday, loosely sorted. You’ve probably seen some of this stuff, but probably haven’t seen all of it. The sources are Twitter, Stellar, and Tumblr, along with just clicking around.

RIP, Steve Jobs. Peace and strength to your family and loved ones.

Daring Fireball | | NYTimes | BusinessWeek | Chicago Sun-Times | The A.V. Club | memorial of quotations | Brian Lam | Walt Mossberg | Tim Carmody | Frank Chimero | Neven Mrgan | Mike Monteiro | John Siracusa | Marco Arment | Dan Dickinson | Michael Sippey | Anil Dash | Rick Webb | Pat Keirnan | Alexis Madrigal | Bill Gates | Tim Berners-Lee | Jim Dalrymple | Horace Deidu | Mike Davidson | New York’s Tech Community | Steven Frank | David Carr | Ken Auletta | Byrne Reese (Pixar intern) | Andy Ihnatko | Mindy Kaling

The 2005 Stanford Commencement Address, and the text.

“Doug, do you have 10 more ideas. Steve”

Different images/art/etc I saw you might want to see. This or this or this or this or this or this or this or this or this or this or this or Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish or this or this or this.

The Think Different ad text, narrated by Richard Dreyfus and Steve Jobs.

Other round ups and slide shows: Kottke | BuzzFeed | The Daily What | TPM Media | Longreads | Apple’s Ads | CNET News | Steve Jobs’s Patents

Apple User Acting Like His Dad Just Died | The Onion and Last American Who Knew What The Fuck He Was Doing Dies | The Onion

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Together: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

Time stops the presses for the first time in 30 years and the first mention of Steve Jobs in 1977.

Some contrarianism: here and here and here.

Some random articles What Steve Jobs Understood That Our Politicians Don’t | Arabs embrace Steve Jobs and the Syrian connection | Pixar’s Secret: Rewrite, Re-edit, Recut | Steve Jobs and Pixar changed animated movies forever | Steve Jobs and the idea of letting go

Tom Junod in Esquire: Steve Jobs Dying | Steve Jobs Obituary and a profile from 2008

Some videos: Wozniak Tearfully Remembers His Friend Steve | 1983 Apple Keynote-The “1984” Ad Introduction | The iMac Introduction | The iPod Introduction | Steve Jobs interviewed just before returning to Apple | Steve Jobs Presents to the Cupertino City Council

My other posts.

Steve Jobs links

Open letters to Bon Jovi

Steve Jobs isn’t the problem here. The music industry is the problem—too many bad songs are the problem. It’s the reason the audience doesn’t roar when you talk about playing a new track or two that were added for a re-release of your greatest hits. If your greatest hits were from the last three years, imagine how much money you’d be making on album sales even beyond your touring.

In a letter from Jeremy Horwitz to Bon Jovi who recently said “Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business.”


But then I also went back to look at all of the Open Letters to Bon Jovi I could find:

An Open Letter to Bon Jovi (Regarding Setlists)

An Open Letter to Bon Jovi (Regarding Palestine)

An Open Letter to Bon Jovi (Plea for Tickets)

An Open Letter to Bon Jovi (Crush Review)

Open letters to Bon Jovi

Just like Apple

Daring Fireball recently linked to a New Yorker article about the interesting corporate structure of the Green Bay Packers. In it, this sentence:

Shareholders receive no dividend check and no free tickets to Lambeau Field. They don’t even get a foam cheesehead. All they get is a piece of paper that says they are part-owners of the Green Bay Packers.

“Huh”, I thought, “Just like Apple.” But then I found this:

People who own shares of of GBP stock cannot be sold to others–it can only be sold back to the team. The stock doesn’t appreciate in value, no dividends are paid, and there are no season ticket privileges. However, the stock certificate is really cool, and you can proudly say you own part of a professional football team!

Just like Apple