John Sculley isn’t exactly a favorite amongst Apple fans. He will forever be the man who sent Steve Jobs into exile.
Given the astronomical success of Apple following Steve’s return in 1997, it’s understandable why Sculley would say it was a “mistake” to send Steve packing. He’s said it before and he just said it again.
Get over it, John.
You may have blundered through that particular period of time, but in a weird way you can actually take credit for Apple’s — and Steve Jobs’ — great success.
Because of you, a young, passionate and inexperienced Steve matured in a way he wouldn’t have otherwise.
Being cast out of Apple was what forced Steve to reassess his life. It was during those years of exile that he matured, learning the skills he was lacking in 1985.
He built NeXT from scratch in another effort to “change the world,” this time aiming at universities and corporations. He acquired Pixar, transforming it from “the computer division” at Lucasfilm to a world-class animation studio. With NeXT, he created the OS Apple desperately needed to rejuvenate its aging Macintosh platform.
It’s hard to imagine what might have happened had Sculley found a way to keep Steve at Apple in 1985. But it doesn’t take any imagination to observe what actually did happen. It was because Steve matured exactly as he did that he started so many revolutions — with iMac, iPod/iTunes, iPhone, iPad and Pixar.
I can’t believe I’m about to quote Batman, but here I go. In the 1989 movie, Batman (Keaton) told the Joker (Nicholson) “you made me” — because the Joker had killed his parents when he was young and forever changed his life.
In an odd way, John Sculley “made” Steve Jobs. For Steve, the experience of being thrown out of his own company was simultaneously embarrassing, sobering and motivating. That one experience sent him on a journey that would change the world in the most remarkable ways.
In this most recent confession, Sculley wishes he’d found a way to keep Steve aboard, adding “But you can’t change history.”
Very true. But no need to apologize, John.
This is one bit of history no one really wants to change — except maybe you.
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