Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Steve Jobs was robbed

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By Brett Arends, WSJ.com and MarketWatch

BOSTON (MarketWatch) -- You've already heard about "the greatest trade ever" - hedge fund manager John Paulson's giant score betting against subprime mortgage bonds.

But no one's told you about the dumbest trade ever.

Sure, there are plenty of contenders.

But this one is a doozy.

Steve Jobs makes the worst trade ever

Brett Arends tells us about one of the greatest trade blunders ever: a decision by Steve Jobs in 2003 to accept a safer but much lower returning investment in exchange for his 55 million Apple stock options, now worth nearly $13 billion.

It's got everything. Fame. Glamour. The exactly wrong trade at exactly the wrong time. Billions of dollars blown.

And you won't believe who pulled it.

No, it wasn't some semi-pro hedge fund manager in Greenwich. An obscure European banker. Or a crazy trader in Hong Kong.

You ready?

It was Steve Jobs.

Yes, the man who walks on water. The same genius who invented the iPhone, restored balance to the Force, and rescued Morpheus from the Matrix.

Steve - Luke - "Neo" - Jobs.

"The One."

Everybody knows that Apple Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!aapl/quotes/nls/aapl (AAPL 250.10, -2.26, -0.90%) stock has skyrocketed in recent years, thanks to the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and the forthcoming edible iPod Shuffle. A look through the company's proxy shows Jobs is holding a fistful of valuable paper, as you'd expect. He has 10 million shares. At the latest prices, around $250 each, that's made him a thumping $2.5 billion.

What isn't so widely known is that it was so nearly more. A lot more.

Let's go back in time.

The moment: March 2003.

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Now that's a catchy title... isn't it?

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