Apple cometió un error casi fatal hace 25 años. Estas 10 palabras rápidas lo salvaron

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Esta es la historia de una gran decisión en Apple, posiblemente uno de los momentos más importantes en toda la historia de Apple, y sin embargo, uno que la gente apenas recuerda hoy.

Si Apple no hubiera tomado esa decisión, prácticamente no habría posibilidad de que la compañía existiera como la conoce hoy: sin iPhone, sin Apple Music, sin Apple TV.

Maldita sea si eres fan de Ted LassoNo sé dónde lo encontrarías.

Todo se remonta a un solo día hace 25 años: el 31 de enero de 1996, que comenzó alrededor de las 8 a.m. cuando la junta directiva de Apple se reunió en las oficinas de su bufete de abogados de Nueva York.

Según un informe de Gil Amelio, quien en ese momento era miembro de la Junta Directiva y cuyo nombre conocerá en breve si aún no lo conoce, había dos puntos en la agenda.

Punto 1: Una propuesta para vender Apple directamente a Sun Microsystems.

Punto 2: Un plan para ganar a Amelio como CEO.

Como informó Amelio en su libro de 1998, En la línea de fuego: Mis 500 días en AppleEl trato para vender Apple a Sun era inminente. Quedó impresionado con la presentación de Sun hasta que el CEO y fundador de Sun, Scott McNealy, se negó a comprometerse a mantener viva la marca Apple (en lugar de renombrar todo bajo «Sun»).

La idea de deshacerse de «Apple» fue una «gran bandera roja», escribió Amelio. «¿Podría ser que este ícono empresarial inteligente y capaz no supiera que la marca Apple no solo vale la pena conservarla, sino también promoverla y promoverla?»

Aun así, Amelio dijo que sentía que necesitaba seguir participando en la discusión para saber cuánto pagaría Sun por Apple. Todo se vino abajo en su relato.

Las acciones de Apple se cotizaban a unos 28 dólares por acción; Amelio esperaba un lanzamiento de al menos $ 30. En cambio, Sun ofreció $ 23 por acción.

Amelio se negó con 10 palabras: «Scott, esto es imposible. No puedo entenderlo en absoluto».

La reunión duró varias horas, pero el puesto de Amelio paralizó el trato, ya que se le ofreció oficialmente el puesto de CEO y lo aceptó con la condición de que la junta no le vendiera a Sun con un descuento.

Sospecho que muchos lectores no conocerán el nombre de Amelio. Hace un cuarto de siglo fue CEO de Apple durante un momento difícil y, como muestra el título de su libro, solo durante unos 500 días hasta julio de 1997.

Sin embargo, fue una tenencia dramática, limitada en retrospectiva por el hecho de que fue Amelio quien llevó a Apple a comprar la compañía NeXT de Steve Jobs. Seis meses después, Jobs convenció a la junta directiva de Apple para que despidiera a Amelio y eventualmente se presentara como CEO interino.

(Amelio fue el fundador y director ejecutivo de otras empresas y luego se convirtió en capitalista de riesgo).

Ahora comencé a pensar en toda esta saga después de ver una nueva cobertura de un acuerdo frustrado para que Apple comprara Tesla hace unos años.

Pero debes preguntarte: si este acuerdo se hubiera concretado y Tesla hubiera sido aceptada en Apple, ¿habría tenido el éxito que tuvo?

¿Qué le habría pasado a Apple si Sun hubiera aumentado un poco su oferta en 1996? En ese caso, Jobs probablemente nunca hubiera regresado, ¿verdad?

¿Alguien leería esto en un iPhone? ¿Lo escribiría en un MacBook Air? No lo aconsejaré.

Creo que el gran beneficio para cualquier líder empresarial aquí es cuánto puede cambiar en un solo día o decisión, o incluso en una frase corta.

Esas 10 palabras, citadas por el propio Amelio y rechazando la oferta de Sun cuando quería tomar la silla grande en Apple, resultaron ser muy importantes.

Así que conoce tu historia y cree en ti mismo. Y nunca deje que nadie más le diga que usted o su empresa valen menos de lo que cree.

Las opiniones expresadas por los columnistas de Inc.com aquí son las suyas, no las de Inc.com.

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The idea of dumping "Apple" was a "huge red flag," Amelio wrote. "Could it be that this smart, capable business icon was unaware the Apple brand name was something not only worth keeping but worth nurturing and promoting?"

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Still, Amelio said he felt he had to stay part of the discussion to find out what Sun would pay for Apple. In his telling, this is where it all fell apart. 

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Apple's stock was trading at about $28 a share; Amelio expected to hear a pitch of at least $30. Instead, Sun offered $23 a share.

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Amelio rejected it with 10 words: "Scott, that's impossible. I can't get behind that at all."

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The meeting continued for several hours, but Amelio's position killed the deal, since he was officially offered the CEO position, and he took it on the condition that the board wouldn't sell to Sun at a discount. 

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I suspect Amelio's name won't be familiar to a lot of readers; he was CEO of Apple during a tough time a quarter century ago, and as his book title reveals, only for about 500 days, until July 1997.

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It was a dramatic tenure, however, capped in retrospect by the fact that it was Amelio who led Apple to buy Steve Jobs's company, NeXT. Six months after that, Jobs convinced Apple's board to fire Amelio and eventually install himself as interim CEO. 

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(Amelio went on to be a founder and CEO at other companies, and then became a venture capitalist.)

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Now, I started thinking about this whole saga after seeing the renewed reporting about a stymied deal for Apple to buy Tesla a few years back.

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But you have to wonder: If that deal had happened, and had Tesla been subsumed into Apple, would it have had the success it's had?

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For that matter, what would have happened to Apple, if Sun had raised its offer just a little bit back in 1996? In that case, Jobs would likely never have come back, right?

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Would anyone be reading this on an iPhone? Would I be writing it on a MacBook Air? I'm going to guess not. 

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I think the big takeaway for any business leader here is just how much can turn on a single day, or a single decision -- or even a short phrase.

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Those 10 words that Amelio quotes himself saying, rejecting Sun's offer as he was about to take over the big chair at Apple, turned out to be very important. 

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So, know your history, and believe in yourself. And never let anyone else tell you that you or your business is worth less than you know.

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