The financial results have been nothing short of astounding — for Apple and for Jobs. The company was worth about $5 billion in 2000, just before Jobs unleashed Apple’s groundbreaking “digital lifestyle” strategy, understood at the time by few critics. Today, at about $170 billion, Apple is slightly more valuable than Google (GOOG, Fortune 500).
Its market share in personal computers was plummeting back then, and the cash drain was so severe that bankruptcy was a possibility. Now Apple has $34 billion in cash and marketable securities, surpassing the total market cap of rival Dell (DELL, Fortune 500). Macintoshes make up 9% of the PC market in the U.S. today, but that share is increasingly beside the point.
With 275 retail stores in nine countries, a 73% share of the U.S. MP3 player market, and the undisputed leadership position in innovation when it comes to mobile phones, Apple and its CEO are no one’s idea of underdogs anymore.
In 2006 Disney (DIS, Fortune 500) paid $7.5 billion to acquire Pixar, the computer animation film studio Jobs had nurtured and controlled. Jobs, in turn, became a Disney director and the blue-chip company’s largest shareholder. His net worth, solely based on his stakes in Apple and Disney, is about $5 billion. Other executives have had stellar decades but none can compare with Steve’s.