Former General Electric CEO Passed on Buying Apple for $2 Billion in 1996

Former chairman and CEO of General Electric Jack Welch had an opportunity to purchase Apple for $2 billion and passed at the chance, according to information shared by Bob Wright in an interview with The New York Post about his book The Wright Stuff: From NBC to Autism Speaks.

Back in 1996, when Apple was struggling ahead of Steve Jobs' return, then CEO Michael Spindler, who took over after John Sculley was ousted, was "practically begging" General Electric to buy Apple.

applege

"The stock price was $20, and [Spindler] was explaining he couldn't get the company moving fast enough and the analysts were on his case," Wright told The Post in an interview on Tuesday. "He was sweating like mad and everybody said, 'We can't manage technology like that.' We had a chance to buy it for $2 billion."

A purchase by General Electric would have radically changed the company's history and it's questionable whether Apple would still be around as a brand today had that happened. Later that same year, after GE declined to make the purchase, Apple bought NeXT for $427 million and Steve Jobs returned to lead the company in 1997.

One of Jobs' first major projects was the iPod, which launched in 2001 and set the company on its current path. The iPhone followed in 2007, the iPad came in 2010, and the Apple Watch, Apple's newest product, launched in 2015.

As of today, Apple is worth more than $600 billion, while General Electric is worth less than half of that. In fact, Apple holds more than two thirds of the value of General Electric in cash, with over $215 billion on hand.

Top Rated Comments

dacreativeguy Avatar
85 months ago
"One of Jobs' first major projects was the iPod" ????? The iMac saved the company. iPod didn't come around until several years later.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thevofl Avatar
85 months ago
And if they had, we would still be stuck on our Blackberries.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
John.B Avatar
85 months ago
Thank goodness for small favors!
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ZipZap Avatar
85 months ago
Not sure how news worthy this is...at the time Welch made the right call. You cant use today's view of Apple to judge a decision from 1996. Nor can you say that GE would have done a better or worse job.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
4ubrey Avatar
85 months ago
In what world would Steve Jobs have stopped what he was doing at NeXT to go join GE as some SVP?

The success of Apple from 1996-Present was almost single-handedly decided by Steve Jobs.
http://fortune.com/2009/11/05/fortune-magazine-names-apples-steve-jobs-ceo-of-the-decade/
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hugodrax Avatar
85 months ago
Microsoft did it to avoid becoming a monopoly. Also I agree with the Apple wouldn't have been the same anyway statement.
If GE bought Apple, There would be no Apple, GE would have smothered it with muddle management and infighting. It would die like a python smothering its prey.

You would have no OS X, no ipads or iphones. We would still be using antiquated dumb phones and blackberries.

So GE did the right thing, because it would have been blowing 2 billion dollars to waste.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

apple watch ultra hammer test

YouTuber Tests Apple Watch Ultra Durability With a Hammer: Table Breaks Before the Watch

Sunday September 25, 2022 2:27 pm PDT by
A YouTuber has put Apple's claims for the durability of the Apple Watch Ultra to the test by putting it up against a drop test, a jar of nails, and repeated hits with a hammer to test the sapphire crystal protecting the display. TechRax, a channel popular for testing the durability of products, first tested the Apple Watch Ultra by dropping it from around four feet high. The Apple Watch...
tim cook spring loaded event

Six Major Products to Expect From Apple in 2023

Sunday September 25, 2022 10:57 am PDT by
As we approach the end of a busy product release season for Apple with only new iPads and Macs left to be announced over the next month or so, we're also setting our sights on 2023. Apple is rumored to have several major products in the pipeline for next year, including new Macs, a new HomePod, a VR/AR headset, and so much more. Other than new iPhones and Apple Watches, which are expected...
Tim Cook Apple Event

Gurman: New iPads and Macs May Be Announced Through Press Releases, No October Event

Sunday September 25, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Apple may decide to release its remaining products for 2022, which include updated iPad Pro, Mac mini, and 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, through press releases on its website rather than a digital event, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman said that Apple is currently "likely to release its remaining 2022 products via press releases,...
AirPods Max 2022 Colors

Ten Things AirPods Pro 2 Tell Us About AirPods Max 2

Saturday September 24, 2022 1:00 am PDT by
Upon the release of the second-generation AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max became the oldest current-generation AirPods product still in Apple's lineup. Introducing several new features like Adaptive Transparency and the H2 chip, the second-generation AirPods Pro may provide some of the best indications yet of what to expect from the second-generation AirPods Max. Almost two years later, rumors...
iPhone 14 Pro Sports Scores Dynamic Island

iPhone 14 Pro Features Live Sports Scores in Dynamic Island on iOS 16.1

Monday September 26, 2022 7:52 am PDT by
Earlier this month, Apple announced that iOS 16.1 will enable a new Live Activities feature that allows iPhone users to stay on top of things that are happening in real time, such as a sports game or a food delivery order, right from the Lock Screen. On the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, Live Activities also integrate with the Dynamic Island. Premier League match in Dynamic Island via Paul Bradford ...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Some iOS 16 Users Continue to Face Unaddressed Bugs and Battery Drain Two Weeks After Launch

Monday September 26, 2022 7:34 am PDT by
Today marks exactly two weeks since Apple released iOS 16 to the public. Besides the personalized Lock Screen, major changes in Messages, and new features in Maps, the update has also seen its fair share of bugs, performance problems, battery drain, and more. After major iOS updates, it's normal for some users to report having issues with the new update, but such reports usually subside in...
iPhone 14 Pros in Hand Black Background Feature

Verizon iPhone 14 Pro Customers Reporting Cellular Connection Issues

Monday September 26, 2022 6:23 am PDT by
iPhone 14 Pro customers on the Verizon network in the U.S. are reporting issues with slow and unreliable 5G cellular connections and calls randomly dropping. Several threads on Reddit (1,2,3) and the MacRumors forums chronicle issues faced by Verizon customers and Apple's latest iPhone. According to user reports, signal strength on the iPhone 14 Pro is unreliable and weak, while other...
iphone 14 pro max deep purple

iPhone 15 'Ultra' Could Replace Pro Max Model Next Year

Sunday September 25, 2022 7:02 am PDT by
Apple is gearing up to possibly replace its "Pro Max" iPhone with an all-new "Ultra" iPhone 15 model next year, reliable Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman said today. Writing in his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman said that for the iPhone 15, Apple is planning a revamped design alongside USB-C and a potential name change. Apple could replace its "Pro Max" branding, which it started to use...
apple watch ultra deuglify 1

Apple Watch Ultra User Mods Titanium Casing to 'Deuglify' Design

Tuesday September 27, 2022 8:05 am PDT by
An Apple Watch Ultra user has modified their new device's casing to add a brushed finish and remove the orange color of the Action Button in an effort to make it more visually appealing. The Apple Watch Ultra offers the first complete redesign of the Apple Watch since the product line's announcement in 2014, and while the design has been met with praise from many users, some have criticized...