Today Apple’s market cap closed the trading day above a $3 trillion market cap for the first time. Apple broke $3 trillion once before, back in January 2022, but it did not close the day above that mark and did not break it again until today.

I could list a dozen massive companies the size of Disney and McDonald’s and their combined market caps would be significantly less than Apple. So I’m not going to do that. I think you get it… $3 trillion is a bafflingly-large company. But what’s most baffling is how much Apple has grown in the last, roughly, 15 years. Let’s travel back in time for a moment.

The date is January 9, 2007. Apple’s co-founder/CEO Steve Jobs is on stage delivering the keynote at Macworld 2007. In that keynote, Steve introduced the world to a new product. That product was the iPhone. As he was delivering that speech, Apple’s market cap was…

$73 billion

For context, Elon Musk’s current net worth is $230 billion.

Here’s a photo of Steve introducing the iPhone at Macworld 2007:

And here’s another photo of Steve from that same day that I saw in Getty and couldn’t resist sharing. I have no idea what context led this pose but it’s fantastic:

To reiterate, as Steve was pretzeling himself into the above pose, his company was worth just $73 billion. In the 12 months that immediately preceded that pose, Apple generated $19 billion in revenue. Three years after releasing the iPhone, Apple broke $100 billion in annual revenue. As Apple’s revenue exploded, so did its market cap.

Steve Jobs died on October 5, 2011. Apple’s peak market cap during Jobs’ lifetime came just three months before his death. That all-time Jobs-era market cap was…

$360 billion

At the time of his death, Steve Jobs’ net worth was $10.2 billion. And here’s a fun little fact: The vast majority of his net worth didn’t come from Apple at all. It came from…

Disney

There was a time when Steve owned 20% of Apple. That was back in the mid-1980s before he lost a bitter boardroom battle and was ousted as CEO. In a rage after leaving the company, Steve sold 99.99% of that once-20% stake for a gain of $100 million. He reportedly kept a single share so he could continue receiving annual reports and attend shareholder meetings if he ever had the desire.

Steve returned to Apple in 1996 through an acquisition of a computer company he founded called NeXT. He became CEO of Apple again in 1997. To incentivize him, the company’s Board of Directors gave him 5.5 million shares of Apple.

At the time of his death in 2011, those 5.5 million shares were worth…

$2 billion

Outside of NeXT, during his time away from Apple Steve also co-founded the digital animation studio Pixar. When Disney acquired Pixar in 2007, Steve personally received 138 million shares of Disney stock.

The sale made him the largest individual shareholder in Disney and gave him an additional $8 billion worth of personal wealth at the time of his death.

How Rich Would Steve Jobs Be Today?

Let’s start with the Apple stake. When Apple stock split 7-1 in 2014, Steve’s 5.5 million shares became 38.5 million shares. When the stock split 4-1 in August 2020, that stake became 154 million shares. At Apple’s current $192 price per share, 154 million shares would be worth…

$29.6 billion

Disney stock has not split since Steve died. Disney stock is currently trading at $88 a share. So 138 million shares would be worth…

$12.1 billion

So if Steve Jobs was still alive today and never sold a single share of Apple or Disney, today he would be worth…

$41.7 billion

So What Happened to that Wealth?

Steve’s widow Laurene Powell Jobs inherited his entire estate. She presumably had to pay an estate tax in the several billion dollar range.

In 2017 Laurene sold roughly half of the family’s Disney stake, 64.3 million shares, for a one-time $7 billion pre-tax windfall. Hindsight is 20/20, but in the middle of 2020 when Disney stock briefly hit an all-time high of $197, those shares would have been worth $12.7 billion 🙂

She has donated billions of dollars to charity, including a $3.5 billion pledge to fight Climate Change.

When you total it all up and subtract all the donations, today Laurene Jobs has a net worth of $10 billion.

Why is Laurene not richer? Because according to proxy statements, Laurene sold roughly 10% of her Apple stake once a year until 2021 when she no longer owned a meaningful number of Apple shares.

One More Thing…

Let me leave you with one fun final hypothetical scenario –

If Steve Jobs had never sold off his 20% stake in Apple back in 1985, today those shares would be worth..

$600 billion

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Kay Adams