It’s been a rough week for Apple’s share price as their recent earnings call left investors depressed and pretty much every analyst disappointed and downgrading the stock. With Apple’s headquarters less than an hour drive away from my backyard and an avid Mac and iPhone user myself, I’m always curious about what’s going on at the company and where they’re headed. One reader who’s been frustrated working at Apple and is looking to transition into an untemplate lifestyle reached out and is sharing his thoughts anonymously here to get some thoughts off his chest. Now in his words:
I’ve been an Apple engineer for the past several years and I’ve finally had enough. It doesn’t matter that various publications have consistently rated Apple as one of the top places to work. It doesn’t matter we’re moving into a new $3 billion dollar space complex which now costs $5 billion dollars to construct. I don’t really care about the low six figure income anymore either when things are so expensive in the Valley.
It’s been almost two years since Steve Jobs died and the culture of our firm has changed for the worse. Say what you will about Steve, but he was a charismatic leader who wouldn’t kow-tow to anyone. For the past three quarters, Apple Inc’s stock price has been going in reverse. With a 40% decline in our share price, so declines our moral, my moral. Seeing our wealth disappear is one thing, but to waddle around in self-induced fog thanks to management is frightening.
LEAD BY A SENILE GRANDPA
There was probably no more highly anticipated earnings call than the one we just had on April 23. Guess what? Everybody I know who works at Apple was on the live stream as well. We’re kept in the dark just as much as the investors. All of us were hoping, praying for a clue about new products in the pipeline. After all, it’s been more than half a year since we announced anything new.
Instead, our CEO Tim Cook just said, “We’ve got a lot more surprises in the works.” He then continues, “Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can’t wait to introduce in the fall and into 2014. We continue to be very confident in our future product plans.”
In other words, there’s going to be one large vacuum of nothing through the summer as our competitors eat our dinner, lunch, and breakfast.
When asked so timidly and politely about our iPhone displays at the end of the call, Tim responds that he is “unwilling to compromise about screen quality” before moving on to a larger iPhone. He tells the analyst that he thinks “we’ve got the best quality display on the market.” In other words, there will be no larger iPhone despite all the evidence on the contrary that consumers love larger display phones! It’s as if Tim is in denial about Samsung’s explosive growth.
Tim thinks our iPhone display quality will suffer if we move to a 4.5″ or 5″ display, even though we already make a wonderful 7.9″ display with our iPad mini. If Apple can’t even make a high quality 4.5″ retina display while every single one of our competitors can, then we’ve got a big problem here at Apple.
There are so many rumors about what Apple will do next. The problem is we take so long to announce new products that by the time we do, nobody cares. Rumors, like computers have a shelf life. I understand our quest to focus on quality first and make sure we have the absolute best product before launch. However, if our competitors are aggressively ramping up R&D and beating us to the punch, then we will lose our first mover advantage. The next three months will inevitably see other sharks swim in our bay.
YOU THINK IT’S BAD AS A SHAREHOLDER
For all investors in Apple stock over the past year, sorry for your loss. But just think about how the employees feel. We’re the ones working hard every day on our siloed mini projects. And every day we come home to see the stock down another buck, or two, or twenty. Work hard, lose money! Awesome. At least investors are able to sit back while they watch their wealth disappear.
But more important than wealth is vision. There’s no point working for a firm who has a CEO who is so stubborn, so slow, and so out of touch with employees and supporters of Apple. I’d much rather work for nobody and experience freedom than to continue working in fog.
You think I’m the only employee who feels this way? If so, you haven’t been digging deep enough. If Apple was sitting in a vacuum, we wouldn’t feel as bad about a visionless leader who helps destroy our wealth. Unfortunately we are right here in Silicon Valley where innovation is King and speed is Queen. We all have friends working at startups doing great stuff. We all see and hear every little exciting new thing around us. It feels like working at Apple is turning into working at Microsoft. And nobody wants to work at Microsoft anymore.
I’m handing in my resignation to go see the world for the next three months. I’ve lost all the enthusiasm and motivation I had when I first started. It’s sad but true. I want to finally go out and travel without any set schedule and see the world before I get old and tied down.
Besides you know what will happen during this time period with Apple? Nothing. And if an investor is lucky nothing will happen to the share price either! I’ll still be a shareholder of Apple stock, I just won’t be working for them any longer. Let’s see if the Worldwide Developers Conference from June 10-14 in San Francisco gives us any surprises on the upside. Doubt it.
Untemplaters, what would you do if you were in his shoes? I’m not the type of person who would feel comfortable just quitting without something else solidly lined up, but knowing how hot the demand always is for engineers in Silicon Valley, I can understand why he is ready to pull the plug and take a break for the summer. I’ve also been able to travel a lot over the years so I don’t have a giant looming travel itch.
But I also can’t advise making spur the moment decisions in any career especially when your emotions are high. Same goes with buying and selling stocks. I’d suggest at least taking some mental health sick days to simmer down before making any big career decision and asking yourself all of these questions truthfully before quitting any job.
I’d also suggest looking into taking a sabbatical to recharge and gain new perspectives if you have that option. And recognize that working at a startup, especially in Silicon Valley, isn’t as glamorous as it may seem. The hours are rough, the pay certainly isn’t as high, and the failure rates are stacked against you.
I sure hope Apple pulls through this sour patch though because even though my hard drive on my MacBook Pro died, I still love their products and customer service. Come on Apple don’t leave us hanging!
Untemplaters, what are some of the reasons you had when you quit previous jobs? Did you ever regret your decision or do you think you made the right move to leave when you did? What do you think is in store for Apple’s future?
Furthermore, I can’t think of a single reason why staff at Apple would know anything about the contents of the Quarterly Results call before it’s actually made. I don’t see anything unusual in them having to listen in to find that stuff out.
Honestly, this guy sounds tired, burned out and bitter. Those are all fine, but this isn’t an objective rant. He needs to get out and enjoy his life again. More jobs will come, he worked at Apple… 😉
My advice is if he isn’t happy, leave.
But so many of the reasons he gave for being unhappy are just nonsensical and sound like the bleatings of an analyst who just INSISTS that Apple is a sinking ship, etc etc.
The whole “Apple NEEDS to make a bigger phone” and “Apple NEEDS to release a new product, and FAST” attitude, it’s just his opinion. Maybe some of his colleagues feel the same way. But hang on, it’s nothing, NOTHING to do with Cook. Under Jobs there were periods of several years at a time without new products. Under Jobs there were entire technological opportunities entirely ignored (Blu Ray drives, for example).
He just sounds like he’s burned out and pissed off. He should leave, before he posts any more subjective nonsense posing as insider objective analysis.
It’s too bad to see the direction of the company. Products look rather lacking and there seems to be little vision, as you pointed out. Have fun on your trip, I’m sure you’ll find great work when you return!
Wayne @ VisualFin says
I’d be very surprised if Apple doesn’t do something big with all of the cash they have on hand. Many people are “suggesting” they need to make a Netflix style acquisition. That would help get the much rumored Apple TV off the ground.
Apple was able to revolutionize the way music is distributed, but they don’t have that type of bargaining power with the TV networks. TV programming is not being ripped off to the extent that music was.
As for new products, Jobs was responsible for much of what they have now.
That’s intriguing about something like a Netflix acquisition. TV and movie rights are a tricky business though so it’s hard to say if they’d be able to pull something like that off.
Financial Samurai says
I’m really, REALLY surprised Tim and Oppenheimer wasn’t more transparent about their new products for fall and 2014. You are right, the market wants a larger iPhone. Samsung has like 10 different smartphone display sizes. For Apple to say they think their’s is the best and aren’t going to sacrifice on quality to go half an inch or one inch bigger is stupid. Those guys are in DENIAL and I would engineer my layoff from Apple in a nanosecond.
Let’s hope the share price doesn’t collapse over the summer. I need this puppy to stay above $408!
It is pretty odd about using the screen quality as a reason for the size. I doubt I would buy a bigger iPhone if they made one but I’m sure a ton of people would. They sure are coming across as stubborn but hopefully there will be a cool new product in a few more months.
Bobby @ Ban Excuses says
I had a job that was extremely stressful that I knew I had to get out of. I wasn’t making a lot of money there, so it was an easy decision for me to quit without a hard and fast plan.
However, with solid demand for Engineers I would probably try and line something up before leaving. Although I know from personal experience that this is probably more of a Utopian outlook and you have probably already made a pretty strong decision to quit.
Either way, best of luck to you in the future!
Tie the Money Knot says
I’ve never regretted leaving a position. If someone’s heart isn’t into it, it’s often time to go. Also, traveling the world is something that people take for granted when younger, but it’s not going to happen when kids enter the picture later in life. It simply won’t. So, I see nothing wrong with leaving, but then again it’s not my life 🙂
I did what you are about to do a very long time ago. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company in high tech. I was well paid with great benefits etc not unlike Apple. I decided to go to work for a smaller high tech company where I could have more impact. For roughly the next 7 years, I went from a lowly analyst to CFO. By then I had built my income property business into size that could support me. Good luck.
Wow that’s awesome!
Edward Antrobus says
I’m usually the first person to say suck it up, but Apple is a sinking ship.
Like Jenny, I’d recommend lining up a new job before leaving. A new job with a written offer so it can’t evaporate after you’ve quit. That has happened to me before. Of course, he could always buy Sam’s book and negotiate a nice severance while he’s at it. 🙂
My Financial Independence Journey says
If you’ve got plenty of money saved up, an in-demand skill set, or a new job already waiting for you, then more power to you. I’d be terrified to quit my job and then come back from traveling only to spend a year looking for a new job. I’d probably keep working for Apple as long as I could.
I hear ya. Engineers are lucky in the Bay Area though. They’ve got it made when it comes to finding work here.
Jeremy Noel Johnson says
Sorry that he’s seen such a bad shift in work environment. One of the things I’m thankful for is that where I live (Utah), the cost of living is very low. I bought my house when prices were low and don’t have very much debt. So I feel lucky in the sense that I work as an engineer too (software), and don’t have the high costs other places do.
It might be worth looking at moving to a lower cost area, unless you really like California.
It is pretty crazy how much the cost of living can vary from one place to another. That’s cool you live in Utah – there are so many incredible parks there. One of these days I’m going to take a road trip and photograph the big 5.
Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says
If he’s a good engineer, he’s got a line of start ups just salivating to hire him. I’d set up a new job before I quit!
Money Beagle says
Apple’s share price is still higher than when Tim Cook took over. The investors drove it up on basically speculation and now it’s coming back to earth. It sounds sort of like a bubble, and it’s not the companies fault that it was created or popped. I can understand the frustration if you had already ‘spent’ the money in your mind, but in that case, you should have simply sold your shares when the going was good.
One thing I’ve learned over the nearly 20 years I’ve been in the work force is that every place sucks in some way or another. Nothing I’m seeing here is making me say ‘Oh my gosh, how terrible.’ I think a lot of people would love to have these ‘problems’.
Have fun on your trip! I did the same on several occasions, mainly when frustrated with a job and being away from it all will give you a new perspective on things, whether you go back to traditional employment or start something else.
Even a short vacation can help a lot if it’s not the right time to quit and remind yourself what’s the most important in life.