The 90’s screenshot of the Cnn Money website informs us that on March 14, 1997 “Apple Computer Inc. has laid off 4,100 employees in an attempt to save the troubled computer company ”.
It happened fifteen years ago, “late Friday afternoon”. The same “late Friday” that cost 3,700 Twitter employees dearly, put out by the new owner Elon Musk.
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Things that happen and that have already happened, in short, as evidenced by the story – perhaps forgotten – of the Apple workers cut a few weeks later the return of Steve Jobs to the companythe visionary par excellence.
Insieme a Steve Wozniak, Jobs founded Apple in 1976 and contributed to its growth until 1985, when he was forced to resign from the company’s board of directors.
Steve Jobs’s email to himself
by Riccardo Luna
Eleven years later, Apple finds itself in dire economic conditions. It was in that period that the top management of the company decide to acquire NeXT for 400 million dollarsthe company Jobs had founded in 1985 in Redwood City, just 19 miles to the north.
And so, in December 1996, Jobs finally returns to savor his apple. But the first bites are bitter. The reorganization of the company, already underway, has a devastating impact on the workforce: by April 1996, 1,500 employees had already been cut out of the overall 15,800. As of September 1996, another 1,300. And in March 1997, in fact, a mass layoff: 4,100 people lose their jobs.
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At the time, Jobs held the role of ‘consultant’ in the company. The face that the press associates with the cuts is that of CEO Gil Ameliowhich states: “With this restructuring, and the consequent painful decisions, we want to solve the problem of fragmented resources and the scarcity of results”.
In short, Jobs is not directly responsible for those cuts, but it is unlikely that he was not informed. Even because, in March 1997, Amelio has practically the hours numbered. Four months after yet another cleanup on the skin of the employees, the board of directors liquidates him and assigns Jobs the role of interim CEO.
At that moment Apple is really on the verge of bankruptcy, it is rumored that it will be sold to Sun Microsystems. The value of a share is less than $ 10.
The situation is serious to the point that Michael Dell, founder of the giant Dell Technologies, said at the time: “If I were in the shoes of Steve Jobs, I would close everything and give the money back to the shareholders.” An unsolicited opinion that, according to the memory of a former Apple employee, Steve Jobs would have commented: “Fuck Michael Dell”.
Dell’s isn’t the only attack Steve Jobs receives. In May of 1997, while he talks to developers during the WWDC held in San Jose, California, Jobs is harshly criticized by a man in the audience. “It is sadly clear that you know nothing of many things you have talked about.” And then he adds: “When you’re done, maybe you could tell us what you’ve been doing in the last seven years.”
To the developer’s accusation, Jobs responds calmly. The most interesting passage in his reasoning, also in light of what is happening today at the top of Twitter, is this: “Mistakes will be made along the way. Alright then. Because it means decisions will be made. And then we’ll find the errors and fix them. Mistakes will be made and someone won’t know what we’re talking about, but I think it’s much better than it was not so long ago. “
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Under the leadership of Steve Jobs, in the early days, Apple cuts again. The new CEO takes out – in just one day – all the general managers in charge of the different areas of the companyin an attempt to freeing innovation from the managerial grip and to return to economic and organizational cohesion. A move that many will define as vital for the company.
A year later, in 1998, in commenting on a sudden surge in Apple’s sales and turnover, the magazine Zdnet – dedicated to computers and new technologies – writes that the Cupertino company has achieved ‘praised’ results also thanks to the “cut , cutting and cutting of human resources. The total number of employees is now 8,000, the lowest in the last ten years ”.
Don Crabb, the author of the article, adds: “Apple has lost a large number of talented engineers, sales people and extraordinary marketing people who will be difficult to replace.”
We all know how it turned out. Me too’Encyclopaedia Britannicaone of the most authoritative in English, under the entry Steve Jobs has a paragraph called “Saving Apple”.