back to article Billionaire dumps Apple stock because Steve Jobs was 'really awful' guy

Julian Robertson, a Wall Street moneyman who has agglomerated billions from his hedge-fund investments, has sold all of his stock in Apple Inc., not because he necessarily believes shoveling his spondulicks towards Cupertino is a bad bet, but because he has come to the conclusion that Steve Jobs was a "really awful" person. "The …

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Holmes

Nice Touch

very good closing sarcasm and perceptive assessment of Apple. IMHO, perhaps investor is an example of the best of the robber barons. Ruthlessly get rich, then have a moral epiphany.

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Re: Nice Touch

Is he keeping his Oracle shares?

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Re: Nice Touch

Not so sure about the 'moral epiphany' bit - I read it as him realising that Apple wouldn't be a good long-term investment.

But give him credit for acknowledging that being awful can be detrimental to a company.

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Anonymous Coward

He knows that the share price has peaked, the comments he has made is just to get his name in the press.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice Touch

The rest of the world suffers in the recession, the rich however stay rich, no matter what, even if they have had a hand in other people's misery.

I couldn't care less what he thought of Jobs, but I wonder if he has asked what the rest of us what we think of banks, hedge funds, traders etc?

If he thinks Jobs was disliked he should look at himself.

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Steve Jobs

Didn't put us into a recession, didn't lay off thousands of people, didn't repossess houses...

The Banks and their ilk did that.

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Re: Nice Touch

"But give him credit for acknowledging that being awful can be detrimental to a company."

.. even though it's not necessarily true. Cf IBM, Ford, and many, many others.

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JDX
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Is he keeping his Oracle shares?

Is Ellison dead?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Steve Jobs

"Didn't put us into a recession, didn't lay off thousands of people, didn't repossess houses..."

Or alternatively.....

People buying taking out loans / mortgages / credit cards that they couldn't afford, so defaulting on the credit, which in turn made the banks default on their credit, that they couldn't afford to pay back either.

Still it's easier to blame the greedy bankers (who by the way, we were happy with when they were making us money), instead of saying the common man placed more emphasis on pretty things, than the basics needed for survival.

So in a way, you equally could argue say Job's & his ilk helped the recession by creating an artificial demand for pointless shit that we really don't need, in a shelter/food vs shiny tat, in order to keep up with the Jones' and somehow make us fell fulfilled.

So don't just blame the bankers, a huge % of the western population cause this shit and as sorry as I am to say this, our collective greed will, without doubt, mean it will happen all over again. Give it about 15 - 20 years.

Bloody hell, I really need to become a preacher or something.

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Re: Nice Touch

Only detrimental if you're awful AND dead, if I'm reading correctly.

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@AC

True, it was the peoples fault, but can you really blame the lower classes for taking the cash?? the bankers were stupid to allow the sub-prime mortgages, the same as they were stupid to do 110% mortgages in the past in the UK (ok it makes SOME sense as that extra 10% may be used to renovate thereby raising the value of the property) but they key thing was lending money to people who can't pay it back, sort of like a loan shark does...

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WTF?

Re: Steve Jobs

"Still it's easier to blame the greedy bankers.... "

Most people are not financial experts. In fact, because absolutely no aspect of finance / investment / managing money is taught at any public* school (possibly on purpose because it serves governments and their puppeteers that the general populace be ignorant and more fleecable). That's why most people trust their banks, and pay their bankers to give them sound financial advice. When people on minimum wage turned up at the bank asking for mortgages and credit cards, their bankers should have told them "sorry, you can't afford the mortgage and I can't give you a credit limit more than $1000".

So yes, it IS the greedy bankers who instead of turning down business they knew to be bad in the long term, encouraged people to get into unsustainable debt for their short-term profit.

*"Public" used in the real sense of the world, not in the British sense that really means "private and exclusive"

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Re: Steve Jobs

"sorry, you can't afford the mortgage and I can't give you a credit limit more than $1000".

In the first season of Boston High, one of the teachers tries to get a mortgage and is told something like that. The moral of the story is how evil bankers are.

And I think I learned what "collateral" is watching The best years of our lives in which a banker, a WW II veteran, gets bitter for not being able to loan money to other veterans who, he knew, would pay the loans back.

That had been going on for decades, so bankers finally get tired of being the bad guys of the movie and start granting loans to everyone.

So now they are even more evil for doing it.

The moral of the story, well none, but it is kind of funny in a non-funny way.

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Re: @AC

The bankers did not allow sub-prime mortgages because they were "stupid."

Sub-prime mortgages were forced upon them by liberal regulators who said "because minorities have less money, you are racists if you don't give them mortgages they can't afford."

Banks may be greedy but they're not stupid.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice Touch

It's true about Ford especially now.

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Re: Steve Jobs

"So don't just blame the bankers, a huge % of the western population cause this shit and as sorry as I am to say this, our collective greed will, without doubt, mean it will happen all over again. Give it about 15 - 20 years."

15-20 years? You've not heard of the UK government's help to buy scheme, then?

And sadly it isn't just Joe Public addicted to the Kreditade, it's the goverments of most developed countries. In that case it is instructive to observe how the solution to excess public borrowing and spending in the Eurozone, UK, Japan, and US is to borrow more and keep spending, which then feeds the consumer credit bubble because these governments need to keep interest rates low to avoid bankrupting themselves, thus they create cheap credit for banks, inflating asset prices, and encouraging risky lending.

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Re: Nice Touch

And the ruthlessly rich do not necessarily care if their businesses live on after them.

In fact many ruthlessly rich suck the money out of their businesses while they are still alive.

Their overriding concern being their own personal fortune. Suck the money out and you do not need to share it with investors.

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Mushroom

Re: Steve Jobs

'People buying taking out loans / mortgages / credit cards that they couldn't afford'

Someone had to approve those loans/mortgages/credit cards.

It's easy to blame the banks, yes. However, they approved those loans and they should have been more diligent. Actually, they had a duty to protect their savers and investors, but they didn't. The banks got greedy, and they gambled with money that wasn't theirs, and the people who were saving or investing in the banks were the ones to pay.

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Re: Nice Touch

I think he's saying it's detrimental if you're awful and not there anymore either through death or moving on.

I think his point is that awful control-freakish jerks with a massively over-inflated sense of narcissism and messiah complexes don't necessarily create the sort of control paths and bureaucratic machinery that helps a company to continue flourishing after they are gone.

While they are still there bob's your uncle, after they've gone, sell sell sell.

Nothing moral about this guys opinion at all and I'm not sure he's trying to paint it as such.

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Re: Steve Jobs

"People buying taking out loans / mortgages / credit cards that they couldn't afford, so defaulting on the credit, which in turn made the banks default on their credit, that they couldn't afford to pay back either."

It's a 2 way street. Banks in the UK used to offer mortgages at 3x the major earners salary, that became 3x + 1 minor, then 2 minor and finally 3x + 3x. House prices in each segment increased. Whether the house price increase was the trigger or the extra money available was the trigger .. who knows, the result is that a house now costs effectively twice as much as it used to. (3x + 3x instead of 3x)

Banks folded bad debt in with good debt to offload the debt, Eventually no-one knew what they had, good or bad.

Banks agreed (Basle 1 and 2) to hold 7% capital (cash) assets at any point in time. Clever accountants were able to fiddle the figures so that some of the paper assets looked like cash, the banks were holding as little as 0.5% capital assets. More cash working - more profit.

Banks make money from debt, it is called interest. The system was too free in loaning money in order to get the interest repayments. The bankers could have said NO to anyone at any time - they wanted the money.

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Did Not Read The Article Properly.

As soon as I reached the end of the article, I *knew* straight away there would be a load of comments from people who didn't read it through properly and missed the point being made.

I was right.

From the article:- "In fact, if Jobs were still around – he died two years ago last Saturday – Robertson would forgive his faults and stay invested in the iDevice maker. "I think if he were still there, I'd still be in it," Robertson said of his investment in Apple. "I think he's one of the great geniuses of the world." "

In short, the reason (he claims) he's selling his stake isn't because Jobs was a dick, per se, it's because he thinks "it was unlikely that a man as really awful as I think that Steve Jobs was could possibly create a great company for the long term."

You might agree or disagree with that, but it's not the hypocritical moralistic reasoning that the article skimmers assumed it was.

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Holmes

@AC 07:49 - Re: Steve Jobs

Wrote :- "People buying taking out loans / mortgages / credit cards that they couldn't afford, so defaulting on the credit, .......... Still it's easier to blame the greedy bankers"

I blame the bankers anyway. I knew a bank branch manager at that time and he was FORCED, very unhappily, to agree loans to people who he could see darn well would never be able to pay it back. His area office demanded that he lend £x per month (or he would have been replaced).

The directors who demanded this were presumably still living in the 1960's when it was still considered shocking to fail to repay a loan and most people would have sold their last shirt to repay a debt if they had to. Those time have gone. Those managers obviously never went out to places like the pub where I once heard a guy at the bar expounding to his friends that his aim in life was to be owing as much money as possible to anyone daft enough to lend it to him when he died.

The banks were far too lax about lending money. Now they have gone the opposite way.

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Re: Steve Jobs

"it's the goverments of most developed countries. In that case it is instructive to observe how the solution to excess public borrowing and spending in the Eurozone, UK, Japan, and US is to borrow more and keep spending, which then feeds the consumer credit bubble because these governments need to keep interest rates low to avoid bankrupting themselves, thus they create cheap credit for banks, inflating asset prices, and encouraging risky lending."

Very true but disinterested peoples vote nutty politicians with short term goals to make laws for their short term supporters. Government sets policy direction.

Greater than all the above is the fact that world middle classes are becoming equal in status and income. It's a small world after all. Steve helped make this new social world small. Good on him!

Bee well brother/sister.

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Facepalm

Re: "liberal regulators"

>sigh<...

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Re: @AC

Great, racism combined with ignorance in one amazing paragraph. Looks like the US black helicopter brigade are among us.

Actually, I don't know how you jump to "liberal regulators", since a large part of the damage leading up to the GFC was caused by Bush II and his puppeteers (don't worry, I know that Clinton had a role to play too... but not nearly as much as Bush I and II).

I have read many many many books about the causes and lead up to the GFC and not one of them cite regulators "forcing" banks to create and sell sub-prime mortgagers. No, the not-so-liberal regulators were decimated and made toothless and were asleep on the watch. That is, of what was there to be watched still after so much deregulation.

All the CDOs and synthetic CDOs and so on were invented by mathematicians and bankers who thought they were smarter than everyone else. Sure, they geared themselves to make very high profits from imaginary money, forgetting that it was *people* whose money they were "leveraging", and those people do not behave rationally all the time, despite the fairy tales of classic economists. High gearing means a high level of catastrophe once the house of cards starts to fall down.

So forget your racist/classist conspiracy theories - which hardly relate to the UK economy thatwas hit even harder. Get the facts right.

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Re: Steve Jobs

> People buying taking out loans / mortgages / credit cards that they couldn't afford,

It's the job of bankers with some skin in the game to prevent that kind of thing.

Eliminate consequences and all sorts of interesting nonsense will happen.

"Greedy bankers" are supposed to be the adults in the room.

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Mushroom

Re: @AC

> Sub-prime mortgages were forced upon them by liberal regulators

The only thing that was forced on them by liberal regulators was the principle of treating people equally. The same rules apply to everyone. You don't get to apply different rules to the "wrong kind of people".

The ease of reselling loans is what fueled the process. This was helped along by fraudulent ratings. None of that has anything to do with "liberal regulators".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC

Actually, an analysis of every financial crash in history for the past 800 years has revealed, amongst other things, that each and every one of them followed immediately after a round of liberal deregulation of the market.

http://www.amazon.com/This-Time-Different-Centuries-Financial/dp/0691152640

So, you Jed, would appear on that basis to be completely wrong.

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Re: Steve Jobs

I do agree with what you say (about general public being responsible), however the purpose of banks to society (as I see it) is to factor in the risk of default, and price it into the loans they are issuing. Joe Public wants the shiny toys, and the banks should have been able to say "no you can´t afford it" . They didn´t do that, needed a bailout from the public purse after their loans went bad, and keep on awarding themselves outrageous bonuses afterwards.

Both sides are to blame.

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@MrXavia Re: @AC

"but can you really blame the lower classes for taking the cash??"

Yes, you absolutely can. The banks really didn't help the situation and needed to tighten their lending rules. A lot. But people who take on credit they know full well they cannot afford, whether you think them to be of a "lower class" or not, need to take responsibility for their actions.

And there's nothing wrong with a 110% mortgage, as long as the bank can be as sure as they can be that the people they're lending to can afford to repay.

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It's not that Jobs was a jerk

It's that the jerk died. Got it.

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Hey, it's his money

He can do a Joker money pyre ala The Dark Knight, and it's still his money.

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Anonymous Coward

Typical investor - kill the engineers and keep the loot

Steve Jobs learned early how to do this and JR is just jealous Steve had a 30 year head start.

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I ain't buyin it.

I'm not buying his arguement. If I were a client of his, I'd have to question my holdings with him.

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How can you create a great organization of people and be that mean a person?

Ford Motor Company, founded by Henry Ford, aka a racist jew hating dick.

General Electric, founded by Thomas Edison, if you don't know how much of a jerk this guy was I despair.

I could go on all day...

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Anonymous Coward

@tkioz jerks we have known

Ross Perot and EDS anyone?

On the other hand, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were very decent gents. It's a shame their legacy has come to this....

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General Electric was funded by JP Morgan after booting Edison from his own companies and merging them.

And I have found strange that Ford, a jew hating dick, always hired Albert Kahn to build his factories, no less than the son of a rabbi.

People are just weird.

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Facepalm

Re: @tkioz jerks we have known

When are people going to get it?

Like I say to everyone, especially my kids who think Apple, Nike, etc are great, these are companies, not bloody charities! Their sole purpose for existence is to make money for their owners. You don't get squillions of dollars in the bank by being Mr or Mrs Nice-Guy. You get to own whole islands, flipping huge houses and boats by offering the minimum you can get away with paying the plebs you employ and ultimately by being a mean, hard-nosed bastard. The way you see it from the top is that everyone you employ is taking the bread from your kid's mouths and you owe them absolutely nothing more than you have to by law. This is the way it always been since the dawn of commerce! It was only during the industrial revolution, when mass production took off and these hard-nosed nutters realised just how stinking wealthy they could get off the labour from us plebs.

That's why it's obvious that all this brand loyalty is absolute bull-crap dreamed up by marketers employed by company owners to get sales. When are people going to learn that SONY, Apple, NIke, MaccyD, give less than a rat's fart about them and more about the fact that you love the products, recommend them and thus they can make more money!

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Meh

Re: @tkioz jerks we have known

@Amourous Cowherder: Bit more work there and you would have a flame of the week recommendation. Up the caps, bit more spittle and it's done. Editors thoughts ?

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JWG

Jerk commenting on a jerk

I'm sorry, I didn't know there were any hedge fund managers who weren't complete MBA Jerks.. What Robertson is perhaps unaware of, either consciously or unconsciously, is that the late Mr. Jobs did leave behind a "master plan" or list of projects to follow on with after his death. It is, however, my opinion that a company that can't survive, even prosper, the death of its founder, doesn't deserve to survive. Jobs didn't invent the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone or the iPad. Engineers did all that. All Mr. Jobs had was vision and ideas. There will never be another Steve Jobs, thank God, but there are gifted, talented people out there that can "replace" him. One will be found, taking Apple in a new direction. But it will take on with just one of Steve's talents - the lack of understanding of the word "no". I don't know If Tim is that guy (thus far he hasn't shown that ability). But someone will. Maybe they might give Woz the Job's job and see what he can do with it., it doubt it, it's just an idea.

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Jobs did leave behind a "master plan" [...] of projects

This alone is quite a good reason to disinvest. A company that follows a master plan will not make it all too long (at least if it competes in an innovative industry).

It does take a dedicated jerk to push through new innovative ideas against the gooey resistance of an establishment. Everybody in the company knows how it succeeded in the past, few will enthusiastically throw the successful ingredients overboard to make room for a new thing. And even if some are, they won't agree on the next idea.

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Re: there are gifted, talented people out there that can "replace" him

that can try at replacing him again and again and never succeed. Here, fixed it for ya

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It Actually Makes Sense

At first blush, it seems asinine but he's actually right. An hyper-egocentric person is probably not going to make a business that's designed to last beyond his own tenure. The business is intertwined with his ego and his ego is intertwined with the business. Creating a business that will last will probably require a lot of restructuring, restructuring which would lead to Apple losing its charm (its well on the way). They might even continue with some degree of success but the days of market-leading margins, products, and sales are probably gone. A list of ideas doesn't replace a dynamic, charismatic individual who's keeping up with the bleeding edge and changing his plans. Apple's losing its innovative edge and its completely predictable.

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And Also...

I'd like to add that I don't think Steve Jobs was a bad person. I'd be happy if I were a fraction of the man that he was.

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"I'd like to add that I don't think Steve Jobs was a bad person"

Um. Want to say something about autobahns but I'd invoke Godwin. Bum.

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We're already seeing the change

An Apple without Steve - just look at the visual regression in iOS7. Steve and the top nerd both shared the same ideas for how the thing should look. Both are now gone.

What we're looking at now is somebody else's company and somebody else's vision.

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Re: We're already seeing the change

The top nerd is of course Sir Jonathan Ive. He's very much at the helm of Apple now, and Tim cook recognises the importance of that steering. Scott Forstall the antipathy of Apple is gone.

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With much fine art is not how good the particular art work is, it is who created it.

Apple products are like much fine art.

With much fine art is not how good the particular art work is, it is who created it.

Discover that a painting formerly thought to be by a student or employee of a great master was actually by the master himself and the valuation goes from $10,000 to $200,000.

The painting did not suddenly become 20 times better. Instead owning the painting got you the badge of being associated with Titian or Raphael, and that association was worth $190,000 on top of the $10,000 that the painting had on artistic merits.

So with hipster Steve gone, new Apple products are only worth the sum value of their Samsung and Foxconn component parts.

Apple can't make enough money that way.

Apple could trot out another skinny semi-bearded guy in a turtle neck, but it won't work.

The product has to be "designed by Steve" to have that Apple magic, to give the buyer the cache of being associated with the Great Artist himself.

Like the painting, the value the artistic quality and technical quality of the actual individual product brings is a distant second to the value the name of the Great Artist himself brings.

And you can see that generally right, who likes Apple products? Same people affected by brand names generally, Nike, di Vinci, Raphael, Docci and Gabbana, Gucci.

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The Jobs word was just another piece of marketing

Jobs, Retina, Thin, Ives and 64 bit.

All are simply part of the hard sell. and meaningless when isolated.

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