Ted Gioia, a former management consultant turned jazz critic, recently revealed that he made a costly mistake when he sold his Apple stock about 25 years ago. Gioia had purchased 300 shares of Apple in the 1980s, which would be worth a staggering $6.4 million today.
Gioia’s decision to invest in Apple was driven by his passion for the company’s products. While studying for his MBA at Stanford, he accepted a job offer from Boston Consulting Group and received an Apple II desktop computer as part of his signing bonus. This computer proved to be a game-changer for him, as he wrote his second book on it and never looked back.
At the time of his investment, Apple had just gone public with an IPO price of $22. Adjusted for the stock splits since then, this would be equivalent to 10 cents per share. Today, Apple’s stock trades at $191 per share.
However, Gioia made the fateful decision to sell his shares around 1997, coinciding with Steve Jobs’ return to Apple after being fired in 1985. Jobs himself sold most of his stake in the company at that time.
In a recent tweet, Gioia lamented his decision, stating that if he had held onto his shares, they would have multiplied into 33,600 shares today. With Apple’s current share price, his investment would be worth $6.4 million, representing a 700-fold increase from his initial sale. He sold his shares for a mere $9,100, missing out on a profit of approximately 70,000%.
Gioia explained that he sold his shares at a time when Apple was struggling without Jobs’ leadership. The company faced several failures, including the disastrous Newton handheld device. In hindsight, Gioia regrets not repurchasing Apple shares when Jobs returned to the company.
Despite his missed opportunity, Gioia remains critical of Apple’s performance in the post-Jobs era. He points out that the company’s revenues declined last year, in contrast to the impressive growth during Jobs’ tenure. Gioia believes that Apple is still heavily reliant on Jobs’ vision, with the iPhone continuing to dominate its revenues and profits.
In Gioia’s opinion, Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cook, may excel at cost control and efficiency but lacks the vision and innovation that Jobs possessed. He argues that Apple’s declining sales under Cook’s leadership are evidence of this.
While Gioia may feel bitter about his missed millions, his insights as a longtime Apple user and investor carry weight. The challenges faced by Apple in the absence of Jobs are evident, and Gioia’s story serves as a cautionary tale for investors.