Hindsight is 20-20.
In 1997 I don't think anyone could have predicted what Jobs could and would do with Apple, and I doubt anyone else would have managed it. It was "his baby" after all. He was a rather unique driving force, and we'll have to see what happens now he's gone.
In the parallel universe where 1997 saw the end of Apple, I don't think anyone will be casting any blame for not sticking with it. Jobs pulled off a 1000:1 shot.