Silicon Valley and Seattle entrepreneurs changed the world.  Forever. 

Where would we be without the invention of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and the scores of other companies that shape our daily lives?

That’s why it’s fun to look at the history of these companies that are 45 years or younger and see the moves that helped shape them. 

During the ’80s and ’90s, Microsoft and Apple were fierce competitors, and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were seen as the most dynamic leaders in tech. 

Twenty-six years ago, Steve Jobs returned to Apple after being temporarily ousted, and the company he returned to was in dire financial straits. The company’s stock was lower than it had been in a dozen years, cash was diminishing quickly, and Jobs famously said at the time, “we were 90 days from going bankrupt.”

According to a story in Inc, Jobs pulled off a genius move that Gates will probably never be able to get over. Jobs met with the Microsoft CEO and handled two problems in one fell swoop.  He proposed to Gates that they make a five-year commitment where Microsoft would continue to provide Office products like Word and Excel for Mac. And Jobs wanted Microsoft to purchase $150 million in non-voting shares of Apple, which amounted to just under 5 percent of the company. 

The $150 million would undoubtedly help cash flow, but Jobs wanted this investment to publicly show Microsoft was endorsing Apple’s new direction, according to the authors of Becoming Jobs. 

The move was beneficial for Gates and Microsoft as well, as this helped in their patent lawsuit against Apple, and owning that stock meant there was a good chance it would be worth a whole lot more than $150 million eventually. 

Well, that’s an understatement. The stock deal stated that Microsoft could not sell its stock for at least three years.  They sold it in 2003 for $550 million.  That is an excellent return. 

But, nothing like the $120 billion that stock would be worth today if they held on to it. 

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