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?