Apple's 20 Billion Dollar Man

Last Updated Dec 18, 2008 4:22 PM EST

According at an analysis by breakingviews.com (available for viewing without a subscription on the New York Times' website), the market has concluded that Steve Jobs is worth $20 billion to Apple.

To reach this conclusion, revenue streams were tallied from Apple's Macintosh, iphone, ipod and software businesses and then compared to the firm's market capitalization.

  • Do the sums, and Apple's slices are worth about $60 billion. Its current market value hovers around $80 billion. One could argue the difference is a measure of the "Jobs premium." Apple is worth more than its parts because it has successfully harnessed the convergence and synergies of computers, cellphones and entertainment.
  • If the man who engineered this harmony were to fall ill, investors might not accord such a high premium. That's all the more reason for Apple to reassure shareholders with a rock-solid succession plan.
Even if you don't think the numbers add up to $20 billion, you can't deny how important Steve Jobs' vision is to his company. But has he lacked a vision when it comes to building an institution that can outlast him? How have other startups incorporated the vision and values of their founders without staying totally dependent on them?