OK, so you probably knew that already. But I bet you didn’t know how he used that to get AT&T to take a chance on the iPhone — and to an unprecedented revenue-sharing agreement. Let’s just say it was typically Jobsian:
Aggarwal pointed out that Jobs was different than other CEOs who delegate strategy implementation. “Jobs met with the CEOs of each carrier. I was struck by the hands-on nature and his desire to make his mark on everything the company was doing. He got deeply involved in the details he cared about. He made it happen,” said Aggarwal.
Aggarwal was impressed by the way Jobs was willing to take a risk to realize his vision. “In one meeting in the conference room with Jobs, he was annoyed that AT&T was spending too much time worrying about the risks of the deal. So he said, ‘You know what we should do to stop them from complaining? We should write AT&T a check for $1 billion and if the deal doesn’t work out, they can keep the money. Let’s give them the $1 billion [Apple had $5 billion in cash at the time] and shut them the hell up,’” Aggarwal recounted.
Although Jobs did not actually offer AT&T the cash, his willingness to do so made an impression on Aggarwal.
Aggarwal also found Jobs unique in his outrageous demands. As he explained, “Jobs said, ‘$50 a month unlimited voice, data, and SMS plan — that’s our mission. We should ask for and go after something unreasonable that no one has been willing to accept.’ He would come up with these outrageous demands and fight for them — getting much more than he otherwise would have.”
Apple with “only” $5 billion in the bank wasn’t so very long ago.