Monday, April 27, 2009

Steve Jobs On The Value Of Stock Options

On March 18, 2008, Steve Jobs was deposed by the SEC during its investigation of Apple’s stock option backdating scandal. The deposition was never made public until Forbes published it on Friday, after obtaining it through a Freedom of Information Act request. (Full deposition embedded below)

Jobs explains his reasoning for why he asked the board for mega grants of options for both himself and his top executives, but claims ignorance of the mechanics of how that was done after the board approved the grants themselves. (It was the falsifying of board minutes for a meeting that never occurred, not the backdating per se, that got Apple’s former general counsel Nancy Heinen into hot water with the SEC—this deposition was for a case against her). There aren’t too many revelations on the legal front in the document.

But the document provides the first detailed account of the incident from Steve Jobs himself in his own words. What comes through in the deposition is how Jobs sees himself and his’ fierce loyalty to those who work for him. For instance, after selling NeXt to Apple in 1997, his initial reason for acting as a consultant was to get “some of the NeXt people into some jobs where they could help Apple.” He himself was reluctant at first to take on the CEO role at Apple because he didn’t want the people at his other company, Pixar, to “think I was abandoning them.”

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