It’s safe to say that former Apple CEO John Sculley has some regrets in his career. In an interview with The Times of India, Sculley admits that ousting Apple cofounder Steve Jobs as CEO way back in 1985 was “a mistake” that cost the company dearly and set it on the path toward near-oblivion. However, Sculley says that the decision was much more justifiable at the time it was made because Jobs’ always-difficult personality was even tougher to rein in during his younger years.
“I think, in hindsight, for the founder to leave was a mistake and I was a part of that,” Sculley tells The Times of India. “But, Steve in 1985 was not the same as the Steve in 1997. By the time he came back, he was a much more matured and experienced executive, while back in the eighties, he was still a young learning executive.”
After leaving Apple, Jobs spent much of his time turning Pixar, which he bought from LucasFilm’s computer graphics division, into an entertainment powerhouse responsible for mega-hit films such as Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo. He officially became Apple’s CEO again in 1997 just as the company was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
Although Jobs eventually gave Apple a happy ending by turning it into the most profitable company in the world, Sculley regrets that Apple ever had to go through so much turmoil in the first place.
“I think there could have been a way, in hindsight, where Steve and I did not need to have a confrontation, and we could have worked it out,” Sculley says. “And, perhaps the board could have played a bigger role in that. But you can’t change history.”