According to Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue, the late Steve Jobs built Apple to last 100 to 200 years. The comments came during this week's Code Conference in response to a question from Re/code cofounder Kara Swisher in the wake Mr. Cue's comment that Apple had the best product pipeline he's seen in 25 years.
Eddy Cue at Code Conference
Ms. Swisher wanted to know about Steve Jobs's influence at Apple, "because he overhangs almost everything at Apple." She asked if that had "changed at all when you're talking about this 'best product pipepline?'"
Mr. Cue responded:
One of the things he wanted to create was an amazing culture that was always going to last longer than he was going to be CEO. I believe he learned that once by having left Apple and seeing what happened to Apple after he left.
So when he came back—I had the pleasure of working with him for 17 years very closely every day—we wanted [...] what we were building to last for 100 years or 200 years.
And that's the culture he created at Apple. The attention to detail; caring about every little, little detail about our products; not trying to do too many things; do a few things, but do them really great.
That's the same culture that all of our folks have and what I hope continues way past when I'm here...
This is something I've written about frequently since Steve Jobs passed away, particularly when deconstructing comments from pundits and a few analysts who have said that Apple could no longer innovate without Steve Jobs.
Shortly before he died, Mr. Jobs told Walter Isaacson for his biography Steve Jobs that the thing he was most proud of having created was not an individual product like the Mac or the iPhone, but rather Apple itself. He said that he wanted to ensure the company's culture of innovation would continue without him and that he thought he had set it up to do so.
If you think that Apple was remarkable because of Steve Jobs, it's irrational to ignore his belief that he had designed Apple to be great without him until proven otherwise. This is something that many critics can't seem to wrap their heads around.
Mr. Cue's comments build on this in my mind, and it's very interesting to hear such a specific and extraordinary length of time applied to that vision. If Apple's culture of innovation remains intact for 100-200 years, it would be a first in the corporate world.
Few companies have achieved such longevity in any form, let alone in the form of a culture dedicated to innovation. If anyone could do it, though, it was Steve Jobs.
Here's the segment of Eddy Cue and Jimmy Iovine's interview at Code Conference dealing with this topic. Other highlights include Mr. Cue denying that there was a major reset at Apple when Mr. Jobs died and Jimmy Iovine talking about how Apple moves as fast as a small company despite being so large.