Steve Jobs' Greatest Fear?

Steve Jobs' Greatest Fear?

What is the mission of the corporation?

Profit maximization is one criterion, shareholder value maximization another. 

By either measure Apple, the world's largest company by market capitalization, is a resounding success.

Bill Gates towers over Steve Jobs at the Boston Macworld Expo August 6, 1997
Their biggest challenge now seems to be what to do with all the profits they have generated. According to their most recent financial reports, they currently have $257 billion in cash and negotiable securities.

While that is an enviable position, all of that cash would be generating even more profits and shareholder value if it were being put to use growing the business rather than gathering dust.

So why is Apple just sitting on that enormous hoard of cash?

Some point to the taxes that would have to be paid should they repatriate monies currently on deposit outside of the U.S., or to the relative paucity of investment opportunities available at this scale.

But I believe the root cause can be traced back to August 6, 1997; the day a newly-returned Steve Jobs announced at Macworld Expo that Microsoft was investing $150 million in a cash-starved Apple.

In my reading of future events, Steve always looked back with horror on that day - and his Lilliputian appearance on stage before Bill Gates' giant head - and vowed, like Scarlet O'Hara before him, that Apple would never run out of cash again.

What is your take? Please write me back to describe what you would do with $257 billion clogging up your organization's bank accounts.

Apple Flagship Store Glass Cube on 5th Avenue in New York City