Steve Jobs said the biggest mistake Apple made in the years after he was ousted was making its first priority profits, not products.
Here’s Catharine Smith of the Huffington Post with another detail from Walter Isaacson’s bio:
“My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products,” Jobs told Isaacson. “[T]he products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything.”
The irony of this remark is that Jobs’ focus on products went on to generate spectacular profits for Apple. And, in fact, it was Steve’s dual focus on great products and profits, along with his seriously hard-arse negotiating style, that made Apple’s turnaround so remarkable.
Smith also relays Steve’s desire to leave a legacy at Apple that would long outlast him, the same way Walt Disney’s legacy remained with the company long after he died:
Jobs… hoped he would leave behind, “a company that will still stand for something a generation or two from now.”
“That’s what Walt Disney did,” said Jobs, “and Hewlett and Packard, and the people who built Intel. They created a company to last, not just to make money. That’s what I want Apple to be.”
He also stated the importance of helping Silicon Valley’s next generation — the Larry Pages and Sergey Brins, the Mark Zuckerbergs. “That’s how I’m going to spend part of the time I have left,” Jobs told Isaacson two months before his death. “I can help the next generation remember the lineage of great companies here and how to continue the tradition. The Valley has been very supportive of me. I should do my best to repay.”