Ron Wayne, the third co-founder of Apple, sold his 10% stake in the company 12 days after it was officially formed in 1976 for $800, plus $1,500 later in exchange for forfeiting any claims against Apple.
That same 10% share would be worth $35 billion today, or roughly 15.2 million times what Wayne sold it for in 1976.
Wayne and Jobs knew each other from their days at Atari, and Wayne happened to be in the right place at the right time.
"He had a modest disagreement with Steve Wozniak over some philosophical issue, and I happened to be there at the time," Wayne said. "We had a conversation in which, successfully, I was able to get the issue resolved. At the moment, Steve Jobs was very impressed with that bit of diplomacy and suggested immediately that we form a company with he and Wozniak each having 45% and myself having 10% as a philosophical tie-breaker in the case of any disputes in the future."
Wayne's diplomacy, and his mature attitude toward the business side of things helped Jobs decision to bring him on board as well, according to Wozniak.
"He had more of a mature adult mentality and had strong formulas of how things go and how companies are run and what they do right and what they do wrong," Steve Wozniak said. "He sat down at a typewriter and typed out all this legalese, looked like it came from a lawyer for our partnership agreement. So I was very impressed by Ron."
While Wayne would have been a good intermidiary between Woz and Jobs, the cost of starting a company like Macintosh, plus the sour taste left in his mouth from his own failed slot machine company two years prior, was too much of a risk for Wayne to take.
"In addition to that, I think Steve Jobs had an idea in the back of his head based upon the fact that I had rebuilt the documentation system for Atari," Wayne said. "He was very impressed with the system and certainly wanted to have that as part of the new enterprise. The only problem with that was I could see myself looking ahead in the future as leading a major office in the back of the company shuffling papers for the rest of my life. That wasn't exactly the future I had in mind for myself."
Woz and Jobs never thought about the risk that the older Wayne contemplated. Purchasing parts on credit, building computers and selling them for cash to pay off the debt wasn't a concern.
"If anything fell through in that plan Steve Jobs had no savings account or money or friends or relatives with money, and neither did I, so our adult supervision, Ron, might be on the hook for the money," Woz said. "I thought that might have scared him off, that he was taking a majority of the risk and he only got 10%."
"We went through project after project after project during my college years, his high school and his college years, before we started Apple. When it came to starting Apple, boy, things were gung-ho. Steve Jobs pretty much was so young he didn't need any income and money, so we just survived on -- it was moonlighting for a while. You do that out of your house, you do it out of your garage, and it never came up, 'do we throw in the towel because we are not making any money yet?' Never came up."
Even with all of Apple's success Wayne doesn't regret backing out when he did.
"I also realized the fact that I was standing in the shadow of a couple of really brilliant guys here the level of my creativity couldn't possibly match theirs," Wayne said. "As I said, I would have wound up doing rather mundane work."
Source: Bloomberg TV
via Apple Insider