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Ronald Wayne

Ronald Wayne: The Biggest Missed Opportunity In History

Can you imagine having 10% of Apple’s shares? How much would those sell for? Ronald Wayne can tell you better than anyone:

If I had stayed with Apple I probably would have wound up the richest man in the cemetery.”

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The questions above conjure up thoughts of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, but they are not the only co-founders of Apple. There is a third co-founder who had that 10%, named Ronald Wayne. Here is a little bit about him.

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Ronald Wayne and Apple

Ronald Wayne was in his early 40s when Apple began in 1976. Woz was 26 and Jobs was only 21. Wayne had previously worked with the two Steves at Atari. When the Steves moved on in 1976 and started Apple in Cupertino, California, they had a dispute early on. They had mutual respect for Wayne and called him in to resolve the situation. He did it, and did it smoothly.

This convinced Jobs of Wayne’s value to the fledgling startup, and he offered Wayne a 10% stake in the company if he joined. Ronald Wayne accepted and drafted up a partnership contract that they all signed.

Next, Jobs made a contract with a computer store for $15,000 of computers. Wayne had heard this store didn’t always pay, and worried he would be the one creditors would attack out of the 3 owners. Only 12 days after entering the partnership, he sold his stake for $800. This stake would be worth approximately $75 billion today.

Ronald Wayne had one more bad decision related to Apple. In 2000, Wayne still had the original partnership document. He decided to sell it to an autograph collector for $500. The collector turned around and sold it again at auction for $1.6 million.

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