A Jazz Critic Missed Out on a $6 Million Fortune By Selling His Apple Stock for About 1/700 of Its Value Today "I probably should have bought those shares back when [Steve] Jobs returned to Apple."

By Theron Mohamed

Key Takeaways

  • Ted Gioia made a $6 million error when he cashed in his Apple stock about 25 years ago.
  • The jazz critic bought 300 shares in the 1980s that would have been worth $6.4 million today.
  • The former management consultant missed out on making around 700 times his money: "Sigh!"
entrepreneur daily
Alessia Pierdomenico / Reuters via Business Insider
Steve Jobs

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

A management consultant turned jazz critic made a $6 million mistake when he sold Apple stock about 25 years ago.

Ted Gioia first invested in the technology titan because he was an avid user of its products, he told Markets Insider this week. While studying for a MBA at Stanford in the 1980s, he accepted a job offer from Boston Consulting Group, and received an Apple II desktop computer as part of his signing bonus.

"People would laugh at that computer nowadays, but it was a huge productivity boost back then," he said. "I wrote my second book on an Apple computer — previously I had used a typewriter — and never looked back."

Gioia purchased 300 Apple shares, paying only a little above the company's IPO price. Apple went public at $22 in 1980, or 10 cents adjusted for the five stock splits since then, and now trades at $191 a share.

However, Gioia cashed in his shares in about 1997, around the time when cofounder Steve Jobs, who had just returned to Apple after being fired in 1985, sold virtually his entire stake.

"If I hadn't sold, those 300 shares (with all the stock splits) would have turned into 33,600 shares today," Gioia said in a X post on Sunday. "At today's share price, my investment would be worth $6.4 million — which is about 700 times what I sold them for. Sigh!"

Gioia's post suggests he disposed of the shares for about $9,100 in total, missing out on a roughly 70,000% profit. It's hard now to imagine selling Apple stock for such a pittance, he told Markets Insider, "but after the board fired Steve Jobs, the company lost its way for a long, long time."

"Without Jobs, Apple failed every time it tried something new, for example the Newton handheld device, which was a huge disaster—and almost a joke," Gioia continued.

"I probably should have bought those shares back when Jobs returned to Apple," he added. "And eventually I did buy a few shares, and made some profits — but they were tiny compared to the gains I could have enjoyed just by holding on to my original investment."

Gioia, the author of 11 books including "The History of Jazz" and "Love Songs: The Hidden History," struck a bearish tone on Apple in his X post. He noted the company's revenues declined last financial year — a sharp contrast from their 40% compound annual growth rate during the last five years of Jobs' life.

The music historian and former McKinsey consultant also pointed out that after Jobs was fired, Apple's only big seller a decade later was the Mac, the last major product he'd launched. It's a similar story today, he said, as the iPhone still generates the lion's share of Apple's revenues and profits.

"So (once again) more than ten years after Jobs' departure, the company is still dependent on his vision," Gioia wrote. He asserted in another post that Apple's Tim Cook may excel at controlling costs and boosting efficiency, but he's a much better fit as the company's operating chief, not its CEO.

"If you're looking for vision, innovation and growth, you don't hire Tim Cook," he said, arguing that Apple's shrinking sales are proof that Cook wasn't the right successor to Jobs.

Gioia might be bitter about leaving over $6 million on the table, but as a longtime Apple user, investor, and follower, he may have a point about the company's challenges in the post-Jobs era.

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