Why did Jobs mislead Amelio about selling the shares? One reason is simple: Jobs sometimes avoided the truth. Helmut Sonnenfeldt once said of Henry
Kissinger, “He lies not because it’s in his interest, he lies because it’s in his nature.” It was in Jobs’s nature to mislead or be secretive when he felt it was warranted. But he also indulged in being brutally honest at times, telling the
truths that most of us sugarcoat or suppress. Both the dissembling and the truth-telling were simply different aspects of his Nietzschean attitude that ordinary rules didn’t apply to him.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Jobs had refused to quash Larry Ellison’s takeover talk, and he had secretly sold his shares and been misleading about it. So Amelio finally became
convinced that Jobs was gunning for him. “I finally absorbed the fact that I had been too willing and too eager to believe he was on my team,” Amelio recalled. “Steve’s plans to manipulate my termination were charging forward.”
Jobs was indeed bad-mouthing Amelio at every opportunity. He couldn’t help himself. But there was a more important factor in turning the board against
Amelio. Fred Anderson, the chief financial officer, saw it as his fiduciary duty to keep Ed Woolard and the board informed of Apple’s dire situation. “Fred
was the guy telling me that cash was draining, people were leaving, and more key players were thinking of it,” said Woolard. “He made it clear the ship was
going to hit the sand soon, and even he was thinking of leaving.” That added to the worries Woolard already had from watching Amelio bumble the shareholders meeting.
At an executive session of the board in June, with Amelio out of the room, Woolard described to current directors how he calculated their odds. “If we stay with Gil as CEO, I think there’s only a 10% chance we will avoid
bankruptcy,” he said. “If we fire him and convince Steve to come take over, we have a 60% chance of surviving. If we fire Gil, don’t get Steve back, and have to search for a new CEO, then we have a 40% chance
The board gave him
authority to ask
Jobs to return.