We forget now how early and how spectacularly Jobs succeeded–when Apple went public in 1980, Jobs netted $256 million–and also how thoroughly he failed. After the Apple II in 1977, he essentially went 18 years without shipping a successful product; even the revolutionary Macintosh was a money loser, rapidly annihilated by Windows. It was Buzz Lightyear who saved Jobs’ career: after eating money for a decade, Pixar finally produced Toy Story in 1995. It took in $30 million on its first weekend, and a week later Pixar went public. Jobs’ shares were worth $1.2 billion.
We shouldn’t forget the importance of “loss” in the system of profit and loss. Imagine how much poorer we would be today if Steve Jobs had decided during that 18-year “wilderness period” to focus on securing never-ending government grants instead of developing a better product in the private sector.