Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, even if (especially if!) your company hits the big time.
The infographic below, from the U.K.-based shipping company Pack & Send, describes the 10 worst dog-eat-dog power struggles that plagued the early years of highly-successful startups. (My comments follow.)
I have naturally heard about most of these struggles but there’s only one where I have inside knowledge: John Sculley’s maneuvering of Steve Jobs out of Apple.
I once sat next to Sculley at a private dinner for bigwigs (that is, they were all bigwigs except me). This was right after Sculley left Apple, so anybody with a sense of decorum and diplomacy would have known not to bring up the subject.
Unfortunately, I was then as I am today–obnoxiously curious–so I came right out and asked him what he thought was his best decision while he was at Apple. A hush came over the table.
He said his best decision was making himself CTO as well as CEO because that made it possible for him to push the Newton through a company that had gotten religiously attached to the Macintosh.
This was an astounding statement at the time because Sculley had been widely criticized for taking the CTO role because he wasn’t a technology guy like Jobs. In addition, the Newton had flopped, big time, which “proved” Sculley was incompetent.
In retrospect, however, it’s clear that Sculley was, in this case, more of a visionary than Jobs. The Newton was a decade ahead of its time and Apple didn’t develop and release the iPod until several years after Jobs returned as CEO.
One of the great “what ifs” in high tech history is what if Jobs and Sculley had maintained their relationship as friends? With Jobs’s commitment to excellence and Sculley’s management skills, would the Newton have been successful as the iPod?
We’ll never know.