Apple’s Third Co-founder: A Lesson in Taking Risks

Apple’s Third Co-founder A Lesson in Taking Risks

If you are not a risk-taker as an entrepreneur, you can end up losing money. Just ask Robert Wayne! 

We all know about Apple’s success. With a US$2.4 trillion market capitalization and a range of tech and applications under its belt, the company has been consistently topping the charts in terms of sales. One of their most popular products, the iPhones, has earned Apple US$191.9 billion in revenue in 2021, with the company’s other tech following suit as well.

Naturally, a big piece of this “Apple” pie has gone to its founders. Founder Steve Wozniak has a net worth of US$100 million today, and co-founder Steve Jobs had a net worth of US$7 billion in 2011 when he sadly passed away. But did you know that there is a third, little-known co-founder of Apple? Let’s look at the story behind Apple’s third founder, his departure from the company to see what you can learn from him.

Apple’s backstory 

Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne founded Apple in 1976. At the time when the company was founded, Jobs and Wozniak were 21 and 25 respectively. Wayne, who was 42 at the time, joined the company to provide “adult supervision” and oversee mechanical engineering and documentation.

Originally, the company was divided such that Wozniak and Jobs would have 45% ownership each, and Wayne would own a 10% stake in the company. However, after working as a founder for 12 days, Wayne sold his stake in the company to Wozniak for US$800.

But why did Apple’s third co-founder sell his shares for US$800?

While Wozniak and Jobs were young and broke, Wayne had assets and feared that those would be at risk if Apple didn’t succeed. Before Wayne’s departure, Jobs had taken a loan of US$15,000 to fulfill a contract with a computer store called the Byte Shop. Wayne’s financial fears stemmed from the fact that the Byte Shop didn’t have the best track record when it came to paying its bills. 

As of 2018, Wayne’s 10% stake in the company would have been worth more than US$95 million

So…what can you learn from Wayne?

While US$95 million might seem like a huge loss to most, Wayne doesn’t regret his decision. “There were several reasons why I separated myself from Apple. First of all, my passion was not computers, it was slot machines. I had a passion for them my whole life and I wanted to design them,” Wayne told Vice

Wayne jumped ship too early, and although he doesn’t regret it, there is an important lesson you can learn from him. Entrepreneurs may need to be risk-takers. Risk-taking is a sign of belief in the vision of the company. In Wayne’s case, he felt like he was standing in the shadow of giants and would never get to do his own projects, had he continued with Apple. So, it naturally made sense for him to make an exit. However, if he hadn’t sold it, he would have been part owner of one of the biggest companies in the world today. The only regret he has is that he sold his copy of the original Apple contract in the 90s for US$500, which, if sold later, could have been a tremendously lucrative sale.

Header image courtesy of Unsplash

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