The Most Valuable American Company
In a time when many new and exciting companies, like Facebook, have plummeting stock prices, another Nasdaq-listed company is making news for becoming the most valuable American company in history: Apple Inc. The young but storied company hit a market cap of $623.5 billion, the highest value for any U.S. company in history. So today, on the day the company will no doubt take another jump in stock price and dazzle us all with their latest offerings, we stop and take a look at what the modern business man can learn from a company built on a controversial, proprietary, close walled eco-system and a line of products that would fit comfortably on a small card table. These are our thoughts on the most valuable American company to date.
We should start out with the obvious… Apple is not the world’s most valuable company. That recognition is held by PetroChina, a Chinese government-owned oil & gas company. Apple is the most valuable U.S. company (or, free market company, if you will).
Anywho, with that out of the way, we are commenting on Apple’s success for three reasons: 1) It’s a historic accomplishment; 2) The Dignified Devil is an unabashed Apple supporter; and 3) Apple is a company that built its reputation and financial success through doing things right and taking the long term outlook to success.
Here’s what we like about the news:
1) Apple is a company that actually makes something. It’s not a company creating wealth from pushing theoretical money around;
2) Apple was built based on the principles of being dedicated to a strong vision and philosophy based on user experience and developing products that will improve the average person’s daily life.
3) The company has played the brand game perfectly and has built an unparalleled brand that makes the average consumer want to support it, and makes one continue to hope that each of its newest products will be as revolutionary, simple, and iconic as the last.
4) Apple became the company that it is because of a long-term vision plan developed by Steve Jobs and an expertly assembled executive team, based upon the vision of one of this decade’s (and last’s) true tastemakers, something that is almost nonexistent in American business today.
Expanding on those four points, Apple is a lesson on how to do things right. The company did not capitalize on short-term fame the first opportunity that it got (in fact, it bizarrely did the opposite in forcing Steve Jobs out of the company). Instead, the company spent decades developing a limited line of quality products that were beneficial to the end consumer, not a cheap device that quickly breaks and needs replacing, or some piece of shit built on the feedback of what the public “thinks” it needs. Apple was built on the vision of Steve Job’s vision that the computer would be a bicycle for the human mind, and it would give ordinary people the power to change the world.
Finally, we like Apple because it creates such a nice juxtaposition to companies like Facebook. Both companies are publicly traded companies and both are listed on Nasdaq. Both, at least up until a couple weeks ago, were darlings of Wall Street, Ivy League computer science grads, and the talking heads on just about any news/commentary site/show you can think of. Both are (were) lead by a charismatic whiz-kid CEO who dominates the “human” image of each organization. Both sticking to their philosophical Huns when it comes to the importance of their company in the big scheme of the human experience.
What separates the two is that Apple takes care to create a fluid, intuitive user experience. Facebook creates significant overhauls to its user experience without equally significant notice, preparation or explanation. Apple faced ups and downs over the decades but, particularly recently, stuck to its guns in what it stood for and profited because of that. Facebook has not yet faced its ups and downs and fairly arrogantly (with the help of its co-conspirator and lead underwriter, Morgan Stanley) created an IPO with much fanfare that is now perceived as nothing but a way for early investors to max out the sale of their equity at the expense of consumers that were hyped (conned) into believing Facebook held value.
The take home point from these two case studies, as we have mentioned in the past, is that the dignified businessman aspires to create a company that delivers long-term value, and is built upon tangible products, tools and a well thought out passionate vision.
As creating a successful business is the dream of many American men today, the DD points out the comparison between these two companies as advice for how His readers should plan to begin their companies. It’s important to create a company with a long-term vision for the benefit of your customers, and for society. Not for creating a near-term IPO that will *hopefully* bring you a lot of money and not immediately crash in value only a few months into the process.
Finally, stick to your principles. The best products are made by tastemakers, not by committees. Know your vision, create to those standards, and never look back. Learn from your failures that will inevitably arise from any successful endeavor and continue forward. After all, at the core of just about every true revolution in culture there is taste, quality and vision.