The proverb “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is true in the case of the third founder of Apple Inc. Yes, we are talking about the American multinational technology company Apple that presently holds a market capitalization of $2.43 trillion. When talking about the founders of Apple, only two names usually pop up: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. However, the company has a third founder as well. His name is Ronald Wayne, and he co-founded Apple Computer Company, presently Apple Inc., along with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976.
Ronald Wayne was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1934, marking a huge age difference between the other two founders of Apple, who at that time were 21 and 25. Wayne was a trained technical draftsman from New York. At age 22, he tried to venture into business by starting a company that sold slot machines. The business did not work out and was shut down after a brief period. His unsuccessful business venture left Wayne with a huge debt that took him another year to repay. The traumatic experience of this failed entrepreneurial venture made Wayne more skeptical about his future moves.
Wayne felt he was better off with his job as a product engineering than running a business. It was in 1976 when Wayne met two of his partners in Apple while he was working on internal corporate documentation for the Atari brand. The three got along really well, sharing similar thoughts and ideas. It was during this time that Jobs and Wozniak were already planning to launch Apple. Wayne got involved in settling an intense discussion on launching the brand; he invited Jobs and Wozniak to his home one day.
After hours of discussion on the foundation of Apple, Jobs proposed Wayne be a co-founder of the company, holding a 10% stake in the company. Jobs and Wozniak would hold a 45% stake each, so Wayne could be a tie-breaker. Wayne initially thought this to be a risk-averse venture because he would only be providing administrative oversight and documentation for the new venture, while the other two partners would take care of product design.
On April 1, 1976, Apple Computer Company was founded, and Wayne made the logo and even the manual. Problems started cropping up when Wayne learned that Jobs had secured $15,000 in credit as the initial capital investment for the company. His prior experience in business and debt settlement made him less and less confident about his decision to be a co-founder. Wayne knew that Jobs and Wozniak had nothing that potential creditors could seize, but he did and could possibly fall into debt yet again.
As Wayne began to assess the journey of Apple in the coming years, he deduced that the company would face a few bumps, which could lead to heavy losses. He even found himself to be a misfit as a product engineer in his 40s compared to two talented product designers in their 20s. Fearing he might lose his wealth and savings to another debt, Wayne visited the registrar’s office a few months later, renounced his role in the Apple Computer Company, and sold his 10% stake to the other co-founders. The exchange value as of April 12, 1976, was $800. A year later, he again received an amount of $1,500 to forfeit any future claims to the company. The total amount of his 10% stake back then stood at US$2,300, while at present, it would be worth around $230 billion, which would have made him the richest man on the planet.Ronald Wayne felt his decision was the right one considering the time and situation he was in, and he believes he made a well-thought-out decision and has had to live with it but doesn’t regret it.