How Rich Was Steve Jobs? How Co-Founding Apple Affected His Net Worth
Everybody knows about Steve Jobs, the idiosyncratic co-founder of Apple. You probably know that Jobs built his fame (and wealth) as one of the masterminds behind Apple’s personal computers, and later the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. What you may not know is that he was born to parents who put him up for adoption at birth, and he became a self-made billionaire even though he never graduated from college.
But how rich was Steve Jobs? Find out how much money he made at Apple, what his net worth was at the time of his death, and where his fortune really came from.
Steve Jobs was worth billions at the time of his death
Investopedia reports that Steve Jobs’ net worth was estimated at $10.2 billion at the time of his death in 2011. But how did he get there? As Fortune reports, “Steve Jobs’ name is forever tied to Apple: the company he founded, was fired from, and later returned to and made the most valuable in the world.” But a few other companies played a pivotal role on the way.
Along with Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs co-founded Apple, in 1976. Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985, and took a few Apple employees with him to found NeXT, another computer company. He funded Pixar’s spinoff from Lucasfilm. Then, he saw Apple merge with NeXT, and became CEO of Apple, which he remade into the tech giant you know today.
Apple made him a millionaire
It’s easy to assume that Steve Jobs made his fortune thanks primarily to the iPhone (the device you probably carry with you 24/7). But selling personal computers was also a significant — and lucrative — accomplishment for Jobs. Investopedia notes that “From his early days at Apple, Jobs had been rich.” He had a net worth of more than $1 million by 1978, when he was just 23, and Apple had only been around for two years.
Steve Jobs’s net worth grew to $10 million by the next year, and to more than $250 million by the time he turned 25. That was all thanks to the success of Apple’s personal computers, especially the Apple II. In fact, Jobs became one of the youngest people ever on Forbes’s list of the richest people in the United States — without inheriting his money.
Apple’s IPO made Steve Jobs even wealthier
Cult of Mac reports that when Apple went public in 1980, the IPO made “instant millionaires.” In fact, more than 40 out of Apple’s 1,000 employees became millionaires that day. A 25-year-old Steve Jobs, as Apple’s biggest shareholder, ended the day with a net worth of $217 million. Steve Wozniak was worth $116 million, after giving a percentage of his stock options to Apple employees who otherwise wouldn’t have qualified for them.
But surprisingly enough, it was another IPO altogether that made Steve Jobs a billionaire.
Another of Steve Jobs’s achievements made him a billionaire
Cult of Mac reports that when Pixar went public in 1995, that’s the day Steve Jobs became a billionaire. “Many people ignore Pixar (certainly compared to Apple) when listing Jobs’ great achievements,” the publication notes. Jobs invested in Pixar during his time away from Apple, buying the majority interest in the animation studio from Star Wars creator George Lucas in early 1986.
Capitalizing on the success of Toy Story, Pixar went public. And the IPO started Jobs’s professional turnaround, putting him on the path to the deal that would see Apple buying NeXT.
He told his daughter, ‘You’re getting nothing’
Steve Jobs’s daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, recently wrote a memoir. In an excerpt published by Vanity Fair, she notes that Steve Jobs denied his paternity when she was born in 1978. In 1980, a district attorney sued Jobs for child support payments. His lawyers insisting on closing the case on December 8, 1980, four days before Apple went public.
Later, after hearing that he replaced his car every time it got scratched, Lisa asked if she could have an old one. Jobs told her bluntly, “You’re not getting anything. You understand? Nothing. You’re getting nothing.” She wrote, “For him, I was a blot on a spectacular ascent, as our story did not fit with the narrative of greatness and virtue he might have wanted for himself.”
Steve Jobs could have been a lot wealthier
Interestingly enough, Investopedia reports that Steve Jobs could have been a lot wealthier — if he’d held onto his Apple stock. Jobs held a 26% stake in Apple when the company completed its first round of fundraising in 1977. By 1985, he owned an 11% share in Apple. But he sold most of his shares when he was ousted from the company in 1985. He kept just a single share so that he would still receive the company’s annual report in the mail.
When Jobs sold NeXT to Apple in 1997, he received 1.5 million Apple shares. But he sold them to protest the company’s appointment of Gil Amelio as CEO only a few months later. Plus, from 1997 to 2011, Jobs made an annual salary of just $1 at Apple. As Steve Jobs once said in a PBS documentary, “I never did it for the money.”
More of his net worth came from Disney than from Apple
Investopedia reports that “When he died, Jobs’ stake in the company he helped found and later returned to lead to dominance was worth about $2.1 billion, in the form of 5.5 million shares.” But more of his $10 billion net worth at the time of his death came from Disney than from Apple.
After Pixar released a string of successful (and now iconic) animated movies, Disney acquired the studio in 2006. The deal netted Jobs $4.3 billion in Disney stock and made him the company’s biggest single shareholder.
He left his fortune to his widow
When Steve Jobs died of complications related to pancreatic cancer, he left his fortune to his widow, Laurene Powell Jobs (stepmother of Lisa Brennan-Jobs). Powell Jobs inherited his wealth — primarily in the form of 5.5 million shares of Apple stock and a 7.3% stake in The Walt Disney Company — which had grown to an estimated value of $14.4 billion by 2016, according to Business Insider.
Fortune reports that Lisa’s mother, Chrisann Brennan, asked Jobs in 2005 to repent for his “dishonorable behavior” by making a $25 million payment to her and a $5 million payment to their daughter. Jobs ignored the request. But in his estate, he did leave their daughter a multi-million dollar inheritance, which Lisa has reportedly used to help support her mother.
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