Like many, I was concerned with Apple’s latest poor financial showing. But for me, it recalled a similar trend I saw in IBM back in the 1980s. I joined IBM by accident back in 1984 when it bought ROLM systems. That gave me a front-row seat to what was one of the biggest near-corporate death experiences I’ve ever witnessed. At the time, IBM could do no wrong: they were at the top of their game, massively dominant. They effectively were the technology industry. It was a work-for-life company with great benefits, and a great pension plan.

I was in finance, internal audit, competitive analysis, and finally was part of team designed to spin out the software unit. That gave me a unique insight into what was going on. It wasn’t pretty. To outsiders, it seemed like IBM went from class hero to class clown overnight. Their valuation plummeted, they had to do massive layoffs and the brand value went from massively positive to massively negative.

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