(Originally posted Friday, November 21, 2008 ) Cupertino, Calif. (API) Apple Inc., the company that revolutionized personal computing and electronics, has pulled the plug on its operations after 32 years because its executives say they have have "gotten kind of bored and want to move on to other things," said CEO, chairman and co-founder Steve Jobs.
"It just got kind of old after a while," says Jobs, who founded the company with Steve Wozniak in 1976 to sell Wozniak's hand-made "Apple I" personal computer. "I mean, we've got ADD around here and get really irritated by repetition and redundancy. I kind of wanted to start a rock band and take up parasailing."
CFO Peter Oppenheimer agreed.
"It was really happening for 32 years around here," he says. "We've had a lot of ups and downs, rising and falling stock, corporate shake-ups; we reinvented ourselves as a personal technology company with the IPod. But come on. We've all got a bunch of other stuff we'd like to do. I was thinking of going back and getting my graduate degree in Medieval Literature or something."
"My girlfriend wants me to settle down a bit," said Cokey Stevenson, a senior vice president in technology and design. "This Apple thing was great, but it's hard to collaborate with the same people for so long. You start to get on each other's nerves, and the spark just goes out of it. We thought it's better to go out with guns blazing and people screaming for more, remembering us at our best. We wanted to get out before the company starts to feel like a nagging wife."
Apple has about 28,000 employees around the world and had $24 billion in sales for its fiscal year ending in September 2007.
Apple became famous for building one of the first marketable personal computers. Its Macintosh line was seen as spearheading that revolution by introducing the first product with a mouse and a graphical user interface.
"GUI. It's like sequins to me," said Jobs. "That's so 1984."
Afterward, however, the Jobs & Co. suffered many slings and arrows. First he was defenestrated in a corporate power struggle. Then the company lost market share for several years because it couldn't adapt its insular operating system to cheaper commodity PCs the way rival Microsoft could. When its ignominious failure seemed all but complete, however, Jobs returned to the fold to focus the product line, open up the operating system, and then reinvent the company as a consumer electronics powerhouse with the IPod and IPhone. It has since become a big media company with its ITunes store, which has changed the face of the music and film industry.
"Wow, it's all just a blur now," says Jobs. "It's really hard to say goodbye to that rich history. Yet every time we come up with a new idea, you know we feel like we've 'Been there. Done that.' Just look at our history. We're really bipolar over here. I think we've done just about as much as we can do with this particular hackneyed business concept."
Jobs says he's much more interested in other things now like writing music or screenplays or maybe staging Commedia dell'arte theater in Ibiza, his new favorite destination. He also wants to learn to how to be a teppanyaki chef at a Benihana-type restaurant. Stevenson says that he has taken a newfound interest in studying the linguistic origins of Yiddish.
Glen Turknow, COO, hopes to quit Apple and go to work in Third World poverty zones like the Congo and the Managua garbage dump as a Jesuit priest after attending seminary.
"Why would I want to spend the rest of my life figuring out how people Twitter each other?" asked Turknow. "This was a blast, but here at Apple, we've all decided to move on. There are other computer companies. Other electronics companies."
Stevenson says that the entire Apple inventory will be sold off or melted for scrap, its goodwill and intangibles written off, and much of the company's intellectual property and patents handed off to young people at a big party in Golden Gate Park.
"We just want people to remember the good times," says Jobs, "Maybe pull out that old IPod after the battery runs dead and say, 'Hey, I remember that company!' But as for me, I don't want to sell brightly colored lava lamps to stoners anymore, know what I mean?"