Steve Next

by Guruprasad

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Steve Jobs promoting computer from “NeXT” company.

Few days ago, we had seen how Steve Jobs was fired from his own company in 1985.

After Steve Jobs was stripped off from all powers in 1985, it seemed like the end of world for him. He was supposed to work as a normal employee, due to which he stopped going to office for few days.

One day, he went to office and called for a board meeting in which he announced his intention of starting a new company and on the spot influenced some of the most senior members to quit Apple and join him for the new journey. This exit of seniors led to more resignations of talented engineers over the next few days as they went to accompany Jobs.

Steve overcame his grief and was now fully determined to start a revolutionary company. The new company was named “NeXT” and as typical of Steve Jobs, there was lot of emphasis on creating a great logo and branding for the company. The most famous graphic designer of the industry, Paul Rand was hired for the logo design who finally came up with this logo:

Paul Rand created a brochure highlighting every detail of the logo, its significance (for example, why it is tilted by 28 degrees), the impact on branding and so on and the brochure was 100 pages!! This is taught as a case study in branding & marketing courses in some of the business schools today!!
Watch this short clip where Steve Jobs shares his view about how Paul Rand created a great corporate identity for the new company.

After the branding work, Jobs focussed on company organization and implemented an interesting corporate structure. Instead of conventional, he chose to make several “communities” with “members” instead of employees. In terms of salaries, it was very open and employees had access to salary slips of every other employee.

After this, the focus was on a product. There was lot of market research and presentations before finalizing on a product.
Here is an interesting 1-min clip where Steve compares computers to a bicycle during one such presentation:

Finally, NeXT decided to make a tailor made computer/workstation for educational institutes and they dominated the educational segment. The first web browser was written on a NeXT workstation by Tim Berners-Lee (who is considered as father of the Internet)

In the meantime, Steve acquired Pixar and concentrated on graphics business as well (which went on to make films like Toy Story and was eventually sold to Disney in 2006).

In 1990s, the market was flooded with low cost computers and NeXT began losing its marketshare. In 1993, it withdrew from hardware and concentrated only on selling their software and Operating System (which was based on Unix and very stable). NeXT operating system was embraced well by big giants like Dell, BBC, Disney and others for their software operations and was at its peak in 1996.

In the meanwhile, Apple was going downhill and desperately needed a visionary who could save it. What did Apple do after Steve Jobs was fired in 1985, how did they begin to sink, what were their major blunders, how they manage to convince Steve to come back to Apple in 1997 and what happened to NeXT operating system after that. All these will be discussed as another interesting story using a different photo :)

If you are interested, you can watch Steve Jobs presentation about the market research and analysis NeXT team had done in 1990. Even today, it makes sense because technologies change but requirements and strategies still remain same. Very interesting..

Now, what is thought provoking in this? Steve Jobs has demonstrated that if you have a strong ambition to succeed or change the world, if you have the self confidence and have the passion, nobody can stop you. The worst thing to happen is your board firing you from the company you founded!! But if you have the ambition and work on it with passion, you can still go on to succeed inspite of what happened in the past.
As the popular saying goes “When all else is lost, the future still remains”..