A talismanic leader who leaves the world a richer place

IT'S OFTEN said that Steve Jobs didn’t give a fig about maximising shareholder value. Considering how good he was at it, it scarcely matters. When he rejoined Apple in 1997, its stock was worth $5-a-share while its market cap – mostly accounted for by cash and other tangibles – was a whisker under $5bn. Now worth almost $350bn, it jockeys for the position of the world’s biggest company. Since 1997, Jobs has increased the value of the company by almost 7,000 per cent.

Then there was Pixar, the animation studio that listed in 1995 at $22-a-share, valuing it at $2.7bn. Just over a decade later, he sold it to Disney for $7.4bn, giving shareholders a premium of 171.2 per cent. Since then, Disney’s stock has continued to rise while rivals flounder, in large part due to the success of the Pixar franchise.

Even when Jobs wasn’t directly involved, he was helping to make other people millionaires. Without the iPhone, the smartphone revolution would have been much less transformational. Samsung might be suing Apple over patent disputes, but there is no way it would have sold 19m smartphone handsets in the second quarter if the iPhone hadn’t come first. The explosion in mobile data would have had been much less seismic. Vodafone wouldn’t have booked £1.4bn of data revenues in 2011; and total data revenues would not be forecast to rise to a staggering $440bn by 2015.

Then there are the scores of “App Store millionaires”, making their fortune by selling games and apps to Apple customers. Everyone agrees that Jobs made the world a richer place – in more ways that one.