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By:David K. Every
©Copyright 1999

Who's buying Apple this week?
I've been hearing rumors like this for 15 years!

7/10/97 -- Gil got the Guillotine! - I mention my opinions on what likely happened at Apple. I respond to Don Crabbs letter 7/11/97 about what happened with the layoff. (Some news reports seem to verify that I was correct in my analysis). Lastly I close the issue (hopefully) with some Parting Shots 7/12/97. So lets all get on with our lives and buy more Macs.

7/4/97 -- Ellison still at it? - the rumors of Ellison just won't go away. AppleRecon has more on the rumor as to what Ellison might be up to and why. This would be Ellison is going to hang out until next year -- then make a real play for Apple. It makes more sense than any of the other things I've heard.

4/29/97 -- Larry Ellison just backed down. He now says that he is not interested in buying Apple Computers -- though he might invest in some stock. Either this is a ploy to drive the stock down so that he can buy it (doubtful) -- or he was just talking tough to get attention for himself (more likely). MacWeek.

Now would be a great time for Apple to make nice with Ellison, and see if they could do some NC stuff together, and use that wind-bag to their advantage (instead of against it). In fact Apple could still see if Ellison wants to invest in the Newton/Pippin NC stuff (and a spin-off company). He may be a wind-bag, but he is one with deep pockets.

Apples issued a Press Release responding to Ellisons dropping of his plans -- Apple announced their intentions to continue with what they were doing.

4/25/97 -- The Real Ellison Plan - Macintouch posted a letter from Larry Ellison to someone hostile about his taking over (also MacWorld has a part if the letter in their article as well). Basically Ellison explains that while he wants to evolve Apple into making NC's (Low-Power Network Computers) but that he is user of Desktop Macs and he does NOT want them to disappear. The idea is he wants to increase Apples marketshare by going whole hog with NC's. This is not nearly so bad an idea as the press spins.

I have to admit that I did a bad thing. The press does a horrible job of quoting people and informing people on the issues (sensationalism sells, and the facts aren't sensational enough) -- yet I trusted their writing on Ellison. I think I owe him an appology. While I have some issues with his strategy and attitude, what I am getting now is 1,000 times more reasonable than what the press is reporting.

4/18/97 -- Apple is not going to be "taken over" lying down - They have hired an investment firm that knows how to prevent hostile takeovers. They have a PR-firm ready. Ellison is not going to get Apple without a fight -- and a fight means a cost at least twice what Ellison said he would buy Apple for (and then some). NYT Syndicate, SanFran Examiner, MacWorld, AppleRecon (great points as usual), Reuters. Apple is already licensing out some of the low-end machines (like the Acer-made 4400), and may break off the Newton Division. Both would mean that Ellisons' ideas of picking up Apple for their low-end manufacturing would be more stupid that his stated goals for the company (or telegraphing his moves). Apple probably has allies and will just beat Ellison to the punch with a large sell-off to someone else (like Sun), if push comes to shove. So I don't think Ellison can do what he says he's going to do. If he had any balls he would have bought Apple himself -- instead he has been telling people that he wants to get his friends together to do it (meaning he doesn't want to spend his own money). Doesn't sound like someone committed to the idea.

4/18/97 -- Some of the articles are pointing out that Ellisons' Strategy is idiotic! - But then so was Hitlers in many ways... and I knew that communism could never work (but it took almost 100 years to prove it). So we should retain a little wise paranoia. At least many people are analyzing Ellisons' moves as stupid as I do - MacCentral, MacWorld

4/18/97 -- Some users are really pissed off about Ellisons proposals. Here is a site dedicated to stopping old Mad Larry -- Save Apple / Anti-Ellison page

While I sympathize with the cause of the site, I really am not sure Ellison is serious (or that he could pull it off). Apple has somewhere near $2 BILLION to make a nasty poison-pill -- while Ellison might pay $1 Billion for controlling interest of Apple -- I doubt he would double or triple that. Much of his interest is in Newton, and Apple will give that away to Sun before they let Ellison take them over. So I don't think Ellisons'' Apple will happen. But I've been wrong before, and if you don't agree, this is the revolutions headquarters.

4/16/97 -- Ellison is breaking wind in Japan! - Oracles' head hancho is once again reiterating that he is almost ready to consider getting the group together so that they might consider a buy out of Apple. Then he goes on to explain that if/when he does so, he will take over and will gut Apple (euphemism for "smooth transition to an NC company"). If Ellison did take over Apple, then Apple would likely be destroyed (at least if he is going to do anything close to what he claims he will do). I can't imagine that he is that stupid -- but then I can't imagine how Bill G. lives with himself. Ellisons' egomaniacal rantings make me more nervous than Apples quarterly reports. One of these days he is going to have to actually do something (to keep from looking like a bigger blow-hard), and the results scare me. Ellison in charge of Apple would be like having a child-mollestor babysitting your kids. I still think (hope) its just chest pounding on Ellisons' part.

4/10/97 -- FINALLY. If you ignore the first few extreme spins the press puts on breaking stories, the real story may eventually come out. And the story is almost always quite different from the Headlines!

It seems now that Sun may want to buy the Newton Division. According to my sources inside of Sun, this was one of their primary motivations behind the merger/buy out rumors of '96 as well. This would be an attempt for Sun to tie up almost the entire PDA market (ignoring those cheap torturous devices known as WinCE). This sounds more reasonable than Markoff's "Apple seeking to sell itself to Sun" article that the press went wild with. But I still think that a partnership (partial sale) of Newton (and breaking it into a separate entity) is more likely than a complete sale. Newton is finally getting close to returns on years investment -- it would be bad to sell out now. But Sun could be a great ally, so partnering up would be better strategically than selling out. I give Apple's leaders more credit than the press seems to, so lets see which way this story breaks.

In the future you can remember this as a reason to be skeptical of breaking stories -- especially if they come out of the NYT and Markoff. This story has evolved quite a bit already, and I expect more evolution before anything actually comes down.

  • Reuters via C|NET, Reuters via ZDNET <- notice the different headlines for the same article. CNNfN,Apple Recon - A little more analysis of what is going on.

4/3/97 -- Is Apple seeking a suitor? Is Apple looking to merge with Sun (or elsewhere)? Maybe. I think Apple/Sun is a good idea. Read my analysis of what the Sun-Apple merger would mean to both companies. (Would the new company be called Snapple?)

But before you go too far down the road of hyperbole, read about the "Author" of the Rumor before making up your mind as to whether its going to happen or not -

Most of the articles just parrot the NYT, and a few of the articles are a little-bit Mac bashing -- but the consensus seems to be that people (analysts) are not giving the rumor much credence. Chalk another miss up for Markoff and NYT.

  • MacWeek (oops!), ZD-Net duplicate, They combine NYT speculation, with the Princes purchase, and Ellisons delusions into a story that seems to miss the point. Just because people know Ellison, does not mean they are all going to partner up and buy Apple with him. Heck, I met Ellison once, and I've got some Apple stock (2 Lots), am I now helping him to buy Apple?!?!

4/2/97 Prince Puts his money on Apple! - It looks like Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal decided that Wall Street has their heads up their backsides and that Apple is a bargain at current prices -- and was willing to back that opinion up with $115 million. He now owns about 5% of Apple. This guy has a history of investing in companies right before they turn around. Remember the old adage - Buy-low, Sell-high! Won't the doom-saying analysts look foolish in a few months? How many of them put their own money where their mouths are?!?! Is it coincidence that Apple is one of the most heavily short-sold companies, and the most bashed,in the press?

3/97 -- Ellisons Air-ball - Larry Ellison, head hancho of Oracle and 3rd richest Software tycoon (worth $6 billion+) is thowing out he idea of him buying Apple. He has done this on many prior occasions. The guy says some smart things, and some really stupid things, and I am completely unsure of him -- I suspect he was a flower child and has dropped acid one too many times. A $1billion take over offer is silly, considering he is smart enough to know that any trial balloons are going to drive up the cost of the company. So he'll probably have to put in closer to $1.5billion+. Its time for this guy to sh*t or get off the pot! And he's been on this pot for too long. This is the 3rd time I've heard this rumor in the same amount of years, he seems to do it for his own attention. He also bashes Amelio unfairly, and his best friend (Steve Jobs) says he's not serious. So Ellison is just breaking wind in public (again).

Remember -- Oracle and Apple are almost on opposite tracks for their long term directions. Apple is for micro computers and empowering individuals with powerful computers on their desk (empowering users). Ellison/Oracle is more for whimpy computers on the desk so that they can sell powerful and expensive back-end databases/systems and we can all be tied into IS types like Ellison (empowering administrators/IS types). The two are not as competitive as one might think -- but I don't think Ellison has the ability to see in greys.

I am not sure that Apple under Ellison would be anything recognizable to the company that I know. About the only thing good to say about Ellison acquiring Apple is that he *really* dislikes Gates. Also he is reminding Wall Street that they are idiots (in how they value Apple) and that there is something of value there.

San Jose Merc's Ellison piece, MacWorld's view, InforWorlds Blurb, Reuters, TechWeb, PC-Week, IrishTimes, NYT (Requires free subscription), Washington Post, Associated Press,WSJ <- bad article (again) with many mistakes (again)

Amelio Responds to take-over speculation (he thinks its as silly as I do) -

MacWorld, KnightRidder, SJ Merc (Amelio on future), SanFran Examiner, USA Today, C|Net


Created: 09/11/97
Updated: 11/09/02

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