46 years ago, this forgotten Apple co-founder left an estimated $75 billion on the table

On April 1, 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak entered the home of Ronald Wayne, the engineer they had worked with at Atari.

Two hours later, Jobs and Wozniak decided to launch Apple with Wayne, immediately signing a partnership agreement that Wayne wrote that gave both two Steve A 45 percent stake in Apple.

Wayne acquired 10 percent ownership, at least at bit It can even act as a tie breaker If Jobs and Wozniak disagree on certain decisions?. Wayne, who later described himself as “the adult in the room” (he was in his forties while Jobs was 21). weight 26), was Both consider it To be more balanced and rationalable.”

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But after only 12 days, Wayne decided he wanted out. Although he later said he “felt the project would be a success”, he knew there might also be “bumps on the road” to achieving that success.

And he knew the cost of the “bumps” business could be high – his slot machine business had failed a few years earlier, leaving him to spend two years digging for a huge financial hole.

Jobs and Woese didn’t have two nickels to rub together. I had a house, I had a car, and I had a checking account.

when [the partnership agreement] And Jobs went out and did exactly what he was supposed to do. He got a contract with a place called The Byte Shop to sell them a certain number of computers. He did exactly what he was supposed to and borrowed $15,000 for materials to fill out the application. Perfect fit.

The only problem, I heard, was that The Byte Shop had a terrible reputation for not paying their bills. If this thing explodes, how will the $15,000 be repaid? are they [Jobs and Wozniak] You have the money? no. Was it possible to reach me? Yeah.

Then there’s the following: “I got older,” Wayne said, “and those two were whirlwinds. It was like having a tiger by a tail, and I couldn’t keep up with these guys.”

So Wayne gave up his stake in the company for $1,500.

Now let’s do some math…

What is the cost of this decision? The founder’s shares are naturally diluted by raising the capital. By the time Apple went public in 1980, Jobs’ initial 45 percent ownership stake had become 11 percent. Had he held all of his shares, 10 percent of Wayne could have become a 2.5 percent ownership stake.

Since Apple currently has a market capitalization of about $3 trillion, that means Wayne’s stock will be around $75 billion.

It’s certainly not likely that Wayne was at least partially distracted along the way. It is even more likely that he would have left of his own volition. “The last thing I wanted to do was spend the next 20 years of my life in a big office behind the scenes shuffling the papers,” Wayne said.

However, Wayne does not regret his decision. Nor should he. Certainly, in hindsight it seems to be a mistake. But that’s only too late.

What information did he have at that time? He just teamed up with two inexperienced entrepreneurs to launch a venture in what could certainly be the bleeding edge of a new industry. At least one of the founders was more than happy to borrow the money to finance the business, and the partnership agreement meant that Wayne would face unlimited personal liability for any debts incurred.

He didn’t even like the job – Wayne’s passion was slot machines, not computers.

…and avoid prejudice too late

As a result, Wayne said, “I’ve never had the pain of regret”,
“Because I made the best decision with the information available to me at the time. My contribution wasn’t so great that I felt like [cheated] In any way.”

In short, Wayne made the right decision, and he still feels that way decades later.

This is the thing about decisions — and regrets.

Hindsight bias – the belief that you know what the outcome will be after an event has occurred – makes it easy to question your judgment. Looking back, it’s easy to think you would have known Apple would have succeeded. After all, Apple had Steve Jobs.

But in 1976, Jobs wasn’t like that Steve Jobs. He was just another guy with a dream.

This is the real lesson for Ronald Wayne.

Looking back, we always think we knew more than we did at the time. We always put more weight on something we thought and rejected at the time. Take the gamble: If you think about taking the Bengals and the points, when you covered the Bengals…it’s easy to say, “I knew it!”

But you didn’t. Sure, you might have thought around it. Sure, it was an option you might have Considered. but you didn’t I know.

Only now, it’s too late and after the fact, you know.

As Mark Cuban says, “Life is half random. Being a billionaire takes a lot of luck and a lot of great time.”

The only thing any of us can do is make the best possible decisions with what we know today—and then refuse to defeat ourselves if what we learn tomorrow prompts us to rethink the decision.

Because we can’t always know how things will turn out.

But we can choose to learn from every experience – and keep trying to make the best possible decisions with what we know today.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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