Friday, June 4, 2010

Forget Wozniak and Jobs, the Adult Supervision for Apple Came (for 12 days) from the Third Founder

Ronald Wayne was at the founding of Apple Computer.

In fact, he became a 10% owner, at the suggestion of Steve Jobs. His role was to bring adult supervision and mediate disputes between Wozniak and Jobs.

The Mercury News writes:

After the agreement was signed by all three, Wayne took it to the county registrar's office. "And Apple Computer was born as a company," he says.

Jobs immediately plunged the company into debt, agreeing to fill an order for 50 computers from the Byte Shop in Mountain View, then borrowing $5,000 cash and parts worth $15,000. Wayne was impressed with Jobs as a promoter — "His psyche was already fully matured," he says — but was astonished to discover huge gaps in his new partner's knowledge of electronics, such as aluminum's ability to conduct electricity. "I almost lost my uppers," says Wayne.

He also fretted that the Byte Shop — one of the first retail computer stores — "had a terrible reputation for not paying its bills." Jobs and Wozniak were essentially penniless, which meant that creditors would eventually come looking for Wayne.

"I just wasn't ready for the kind of whirlwind that Jobs and Wozniak represented," he says. "I felt certain the company was going to be successful; that wasn't the question. But how much of a roller coaster was it going to be? I didn't know that I could tolerate that kind of situation again. I thought if I stayed with Apple I was going to wind up the richest man in the cemetery.

 Wayne sold his stock  for $800.

When Jobs and Wozniak filed for incorporation a year later, Wayne received a letter asking him to officially forfeit any claims against the company, and he received another check, this time for $1,500. Taken together, the $2,300 he made as one of Apple's founders is almost exactly one-millionth what his shares would be worth today.

The full story is here.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds to me like they (Jobs and Woz) are perfect examples of entrepreneurs, while Wayne was a businessman. If you look hard enough, you'll find plenty of other entrepreneurs whose computer businesses tanked in less than a year. The odds of becoming a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates are very small.