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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: How Microsoft Saved Apple (And Why They Did It)

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Apple: hands down the most successful American company.

Between the ubiquity of their devices and the almost fanatical loyalty of their customers,

it should come as no surprise that Apple recently became the first trillion-dollar company listed

on the American stock market.

And yet, just twenty years ago Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy and it wasnt Steve

Jobs that saved them, but rather their greatest rival at the time, Microsoft.

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The Apple of 1997 was a very different company.

It wasnt selling smartphones, they werent even invented yet, but what they were selling

was computers.

Back then Apple was a computer company and that was even reflected in their name, but

by all accounts it was a company in decline.

Apples computers were simply too expensive to be massively popular.

They did have good margins, but their market share was abysmal.

You see, Apple refused to license its operating system to other companies, which had no choice

but to go to the only other player in town, Microsoft.

Now, keep in mind back in the 1990s the vast majority of computers were used for commercial


Their main value was the software they had, and if your computer didnt have the necessary

programs developed for it, well then it was effectively useless for big companies.

In 1997 Microsoft had a staggering 90% market share, and unsurprisingly almost all the software

that was being developed at the time was made for Windows.

Every software developer had to make a choice: he could spend only as much money as necessary

to create programs for Windows, or throw almost twice as much to also support Apple, which

had less than 10% market share.

Its also worth noting that throughout this period Steve Jobs wasnt even part of the

company: the Apple board of directors had forced him out in 1985.

But in 1997 the situation was truly desperate: sales were declining rapidly and after a series

of unsuccessful CEOs, the Apple board actually brought Steve back.

In February they acquired Next, the company Steve had started after leaving Apple.

But by that point Apples finances were in such bad shape that Steve Jobs didnt

actually receive cash for this purchase; instead he received Apple shares, specifically 1.5

million of them.

But even that wasnt enough.

By the end of July Apple had less than 90 days worth of cash left in the bank.

Apple was worth less than $3 billion and had lost over a billion in a single year.

But then, on the 6th of August 1997, Steve Jobs made an announcement that shocked the


I'd like to announce one of our first partnerships today, a very very meaningful one, and that

is one with Microsoft.

You probably noticed that the crowds response was hesitant: they just could not comprehend

how Apple could possibly partner with their biggest competitor, who was driving them out

of business.

As the announcement progressed, things got worse.

Next, we have taken a look at browsers out there and Apple has decided ... Apple has

decided to make Internet Explorer its default browser on the Macintosh.

Since we believe in choice.

The speech was sounding like a surrender statement.

And lastly, Microsoft is making an investment in Apple.

Microsoft is buying $150 million worth of Apple stock at market price.

It is non-voting shares.

Notice the keyword here: non-voting.

Microsoft wasnt trying to acquire Apple, instead it was just funding it.

But it wasnt just cash that Bill Gates was offering.

The second part of this is Microsoft is committing to release Microsoft Office on Macintosh for

the next five years.

The issue with software I mentioned earlier that was basically bringing Apple down, was

being solved by Bill Gates single-handedly.

No one would ever purchase an Apple computer without Microsoft Office on it and here is

Bill Gates giving it away for shares at market price, which he could have just purchased

off of the market.

So why did Bill Gates do it?

Why save Apple on the eve of what wouldve been their death at the hands of Microsoft?

Well, as you probably guessed, Bill Gates wasnt doing this out of the kindness of

his heart.

In fact, back then Bill Gates had a rather negative reputation.

He wasnt really into philanthropy yet; instead, he was seen as a cutthroat businessman

willing to do anything to succeed in his industry.

And by all accounts Microsoft was successful; so successful in fact, that it was attracting

the attention of antitrust regulators.

The Department of Justice had been preparing its case against Microsoft since 1993, and

obviously Bill didnt want his company broken up, so what better way to show that Microsoft

isnt a monopoly than by literally propping up his competition.

Less than a year after the Apple partnership, the DOJ summoned Bill Gates for a painstaking

three-day-long deposition.

By the way, you can tell a lot about someone based on how they act during these things.

Did you ever have any discussions with any representative of Real Networks concerning

what products Real Networks should or should not offer or distribute?


Notice how long he takes before giving an answer, carefully considering how his responses

could be used against him.

A program designed to assist in the performance of a specific task, such as word processing,

accounting or inventory management.

Id say its a pretty vague definition.

Is it accurate as far as it goes?

Id say its vague but accurate.

Throughout the deposition hed attack definitions and remain as vague as possible because he

knew that by saving Apple a year earlier he had really saved Microsoft.

The DOJ, of course, eventually gave up and in 2001 cleared Microsoft with minimal punishments.

And as to what happened with the Apple shares Microsoft had, well, Bill Gates got rid of

them as soon as they had served their purpose.

Once the Department of Justice had settled with Microsoft, Bill Gates converted his preferential,

non-voting Apple shares into regular stock.

In total he ended up with 18.2 million shares of Apple, which he sold in 2003.

Now, keep in mind this was after the dot-com bubble had crashed and in 2003 Apples stock

price was still extremely low compared to its pre-bubble heights.

So just how much money did Bill Gates miss out on?

Well, Apple has been performing so well since 2003 that its stock has split twice in that

time, once at a 2:1 ratio in 2005 and a second time at a 7:1 ratio in 2014.

Thus the 18.2 million shares then would be 254 million today.

As of August 2018 Apples stock price is roughly $210 a piece, which would make Microsofts

former stake be worth $53.5 billion today.

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Anyway, thanks for watching.

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Youll be hearing again from me in about two weeks, and until then, stay smart.

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