Apple 'Pretty Messed Up' When Steve Jobs Returned
Jobs' comments made to the SEC during his stock backdating deposition reveal the lengths the co-founder had to go to reset Apple's direction.
Steve Jobs, who returned to Apple in 1997 after being fired a dozen years earlier by the company board, said in a deposition to government lawyers that he found the company he co-founded to be "pretty messed up."
Jobs made the comments last year during questioning by Securities and Exchange Commission lawyers investigating a stock backdating scandal involving Apple's ex-general counsel Nancy Heinen and former CFO Fred Anderson. Jobs was cleared of any wrongdoing.
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A copy of the deposition, which was taken March 18, 2008, at Apple's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, was obtained by Forbes through the Freedom of Information Act. The magazine on Monday posted a copy of the 119-page document on the Web.
Much of the questioning focused on Jobs' knowledge of the events that led to Heinen and Anderson reaching multimillion-dollar settlements with the SEC. Heinen was charged with illegal backdating of stock options awarded to Jobs and other Apple executives, and Anderson was charged with failing to ensure that Apple's financial records were accurate. Neither Heinen nor Anderson admitted to any wrongdoing.
Besides discussing the 7.5 million stock options he received in December 2001, Jobs also gave some interesting insight about his return to Apple after it bought NeXT, a computer company Jobs founded after he was tossed out of Apple.
At first, Jobs acted as a consultant following the NeXT sale. He later took the job as interim CEO of Apple, a post he held for nine years before dropping the temporary designation from his title.
"Well, when Apple bought NeXT, Apple was pretty messed up," Jobs said. "It was pretty easy to see. And I was trying to help in my arm's length role. I was striving to help Apple by getting some of the NeXT people into some jobs where they could help."
Jobs did not take the job as permanent CEO because he was chief executive of the Pixar animation studio at the time. "I was very concerned that Pixar was a newly public company with shareholders, employees, and I felt that -- to my knowledge there had never been a CEO of two public companies before," he said. "So I felt if I took the job, the Pixar shareholders and employees would think I was abandoning them."