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Poor Ronald Wayne


Image via Zhiyue Xu on Unsplash

When you think of the early days of Apple, most people picture Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Very few people think of, or even heard of, Ronald Wayne.


In 1976 Wayne was asked by Jobs to join him and Wozniak, who he met while working at Atari, to help them start a computer company known as Apple Computer Company and serve as a sort of voice of reason if the two disagreed on something.


Jobs and Wozniak were each given a 45% stake in the company, while Wayne was given a 10% stake. Wayne is credited for designing Apple's first logo, writing Apple's partnership agreement and writing the Apple I manual.


Wayne had become risk-averse following a failed slot machine business that caused him to spend a year repaying debt. Wayne became concerned when Apple received its first order from a notoriously slow-paying company and feared his personal assets could be seized if Apple had trouble repaying the line of credit it took out to buy the parts to fulfill its first order.


"If the company goes poof, we are individually liable for the debts," Wayne told the BBC a few years ago. "Jobs and Wozniak didn't have two nickels to rub together. I had a house, and a bank account, and a car… I was reachable!"


On April 12, 1976, just twelve days after the three founded Apple, Wayne returned to the registrar's office to renounce his role in the company. In doing so he received $800 for his 10% stake in Apple.


A few months later Wayne received a letter from Apple saying he could receive $1,500 in exchange for forfeiting potential future claims against the company.


"The letter says all you gotta do is sign away every possible interest you could have in the Apple Computer Company, and the cheque is yours," Wayne said. "As far as I was concerned, it was 'found money.' So I went ahead and I signed."


As shares of Apple came within a few dollars of a $2 trillion market capitalization yesterday, Wayne's story becomes all the more remarkable.

Wayne has said he doesn't regret his decision to leave Apple and sell his stake, calling it the "best decision with the information available to me at the time."


"What can I say? You make a decision based on your understanding of the circumstances, and you live with it," Wayne said.


Wayne does have one decision he regrets making. In the 90's, Wayne sold the original Apple partnership contract signed by himself, Jobs and Wozniak for $500. In 2011 the same contract sold at an auction for $1.6 million, to which Wayne expressed regret over.


Ironically, Wayne said he's never owned an Apple product except for an iPad that he was given as a gift. He subsequently gave it away.


As Apple continues its relentless move higher, in part fueled by help from the Federal Reserve buying its bonds, Ronald Wayne is probably wondering what could have been if he hadn't sold his stake in 1976.


Leftover Crumbs

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  • Lyft could follow Uber in California. Following an injunction earlier this week by a judge in California ruling Uber and Lyft must classify their drivers as employees, Lyft followed Uber and said it could also suspend operations in the state if it is upheld. "If our efforts here are not successful it would force us to suspend operations in California," Lyft president John Zimmer said. "Fortunately, California voters can make their voices heard by voting yes on Prop 22 in November." If drivers are ruled employees, the companies would have to pay drivers minimum wage, overtime, paid rest and reimbursements for costs such as personal vehicle mileage.

  • Amazon drivers laid off. Amazon has ended its relationship with a handful of small delivery companies which will cost more than 1,200 Amazon delivery drivers their jobs. Seven delivery companies in Amazon's Delivery Service Partner program were notified of the decision. "We have ended relationships with some partners and Amazon is working closely with all impacted drivers to ensure they find opportunities to deliver Amazon packages with other local Delivery Service Partners with little to no disruption to pay," an Amazon spokesperson said.

  • Intel makes chip breakthrough. Intel says it has found a new method for making semiconductor transistors that could boost a chip's performance by up to 20%. "It is 20%, the largest intra-node jump ever in our history," Intel chief architect Raja Koduri said. "It's actually same as what you would get with one full Moor's Law node of performance." The chips will likely make their debut in Intel's "Tiger Lake" laptop chips that are scheduled to ship this fall.

  • Facebook hit with lawsuit. Facebook has been hit with a lawsuit in California after allegedly harvesting the biometric data of more than 100 million Instagram users. The lawsuit says Facebook has collected, stored and profited off of the data without user consent. If found guilty of violating the the Illinois law known as the Biometric Information Privacy Act, Facebook could be ordered to pay $5,000 per violation. "This suit is baseless," a Facebook spokesperson said. "Instagram doesn't use face recognition technology."