Last night while everyone was paying attention to Hurricane Sandy, Apple CEO Tim Cook fired Scott Forstall, the vice president famous for building the operating system for Apple’s two biggest hits: the iPad and iPhone.Cook also elevated hardware design boss Jony Ive to chief of all design – a position previously held only by Steve Jobs.
So lots of people are saying that Ive is the big winner.
But the truth is Forstall is in a pretty good position right now, too.
The world is quickly migrating from the desktop to mobile and it’s turning the tech world upside down.
Forstall is literally responsible for the software that’s behind this seismic shift.
Plenty of companies are going to figure Forstall can help them take advantage of the new world order he helped create. Other companies will hope he can save them from doom.
Either way, he’s going to have potential employers lined up. And they’ll be lined up with sacks of cash, too. Pay packages are insane in tech right now.
Marissa Mayer could earn up to $141 million at Yahoo. Her new COO, Henrique De Castro, got a compensation package totaling $62 million. Sheryl Sandberg just netted $400 million+ after-tax for her four years of work at Facebook.
Here are some places that should offer Forstall $200 million in cash and equity right now:
Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg keeps publicly insisting that Facebook is not building a phone or a phone operating system. He says that Facebook wants to be a layer on all operating systems. He says Facebook’s platform is its data, not its software or hardware. But the truth is that Facebook tried for two years to build a phone and kept failing. First the job was given to Chamath Palihapitiya, but then he left. Then Zuckerberg gave the mission to CTO Bret Taylor. Now he’s gone too. Zuckerberg knows Forstall could do it because he has done it.
Amazon. Jeff Bezos has an aggressive vision for Amazon hardware. He wants it to be very cheap for people to buy Amazon tablets, e-readers, and phones that connect them to the Internet. That way, Amazon will be their easiest option for buying anything and everything, from movies to groceries. The next step for Amazon is making a phone. So far, Amazon is building its phone and tablet OS off a version of Android, Google’s operating system. Why not go a step further and hand the keys to the man who built the best mobile OS on the market?
Yahoo. Yahoo depends on people checking their Webmail for a huge percentage of its traffic and revenues. As the world goes mobile, that source of revenue and engagement is going to dwindle. Yahoo’s other big product is Yahoo.com, a portal that people use to start their navigation of the Internet. Going forward, that starting point is going to be the OS-layer of mobile devices. If new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wants to take a big swing, she should hire Forstall and ask him to build a Yahoo OS.
Samsung. Arguably, Samsung’s mobile hardware design is already on par with Apple. Its phones have great software, too, but it comes from another company, Google. That’s a dangerous dependence. Why not hire Forstall and own the product from end-to-end. It’s working for its biggest rival, Apple. Other handset makers from Huwaei to Nokia have to consider making Forstall a huge offer for similar reasons.
Alibaba. Alibaba is a $40 billion private company located in China. It just launched its own mobile operating system, Aliyun, which is already getting massive adoption. The Chinese market is plenty big, but Forstall could help Alibaba bring Aliyun to the U.S.
Andreessen Horowitz. The first thing any smart VC firm should do is try to convince Forstall to take a couple hundred million dollars and launch his own mobile OS startup. Failing that, a firm like Andreessen Horowitz should recruit him to be a partner.
Where Forstall should not work:
Google. Forstall got fired from Apple because he has to be the boss. Google already has a very successful mobile boss, Andy Rubin. Maybe Google should hire Forstall into Google X, where he can work on software for devices aimed at disrupting the smartphone, such as Google Glass.
Microsoft. Not unless Windows 8 is a huge flop. Forstall’s aesthetics are too different from what Microsoft is up to.
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