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The “incredible offer” that Steve Jobs made to an employee and then rejected

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“Now, in hindsight, I should have jumped at the chance,” David Nagy says of the “unbelievably cool” job offer sent to him by Steve Jobs himself in 1989.

Steve Jobs launches IMAC 3n Paris,1998. (Photo: William STEVENS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Things were a little different for Jobs at the time. He had been fired from Apple, a company he co-founded, and was betting everything on a quick move to get back on his feet: NeXT, another company dedicated to the manufacture of household appliances.

With $12 million of his own money, the genius in black turtlenecks planned to be built on a line of machines for use in universities and companies with an innovative operating system.

In ’89, a year after NeXT released its first computer, Jobs accentuated how he would like an “incredibly cool” job offer to David Nagywho was working as a product manager at Apple at this time.

Empty also: The day that… Steve Jobs put a shake on PlayStation

As reported by CNBC, it wasn’t until this week that a portion of that period in the tech icon’s career came to light, and it was through auction.

Among the documents auctioned by the RR Auction company was the contract letter addressed to Nagy, where he offered him a salary of US$80,000 per year and monthly payments in advance, a change that will accompany him in the NeXT team.

The $80,000 salary Jobs is offering would be worth almost $180,000 today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Steven P. Jobs, Chairman and CEO of NeXT Computer Inc., shows off his company's new NeXTstation, after a public unveiling in San Francisco, Calif., on Sept. 18, 1990. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Steve Jobs, becoming president and CEO of NeXT Computer Inc., at the new NeXTstation in San Francisco, 1990. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The position didn’t technically carry a royal title, though he did get a $5,000 signing bonus, options to buy 5,000 shares of NeXT common stock and health care coverage.

It was a “very customary” proposal

steve works he was so confident that his offer was more than fair for Nagy to get into NeXT that he ended the letter with the phrase “I accept this amazing offer!!” above the space where Nagy’s signature was supposed to go.

But the optimism was in vain: Nagy ended up staying at Apple until 1993.

The RR Auction website currently lists the lot of the letter as “closed,” but the auction house has yet to announce whether it ever sold. The estimated value of the letter is over $30,000.

Nagy says that today, on second thought, he regrets not taking the opportunity to work alongside one of the greatest minds of the century. But he explains that we don’t expect to jump into the void without a “job title, department, or specific areas of responsibility.” “It was a very usual letter,” she said.

Nagy was one of the privileged few who had access to Jobs’s plans for NeXT, which at the time was trying to get its feet on the ground: its original computer cost US$10,000 and could not be marketed among the academic public that had been established as initial target.

Hence, Jobs wanted to hire him to “develop product strategies and plans, third-party partnerships, and marketing programs,” just as he was doing at Apple.

Nagy knew that NeXT was struggling to get off the ground and perhaps that was not to his liking. That takeoff appeared almost a decade. Eight years later, in 1997, Apple terminates NeXT for $429 million and rehired Jobs.

Sales of Next computers were relatively low, with estimates of close to 50,000 units sold in total. However, such an innovative operating system, NeXTSTEP, an object-oriented operating and development environment, was very prominent.

In addition to the lack of title and the fear of leaving a good position in which he was doing wonderfully, Nagy probably knew how difficult it was to work directly with Steve Jobs.

Guy Kawasaki, who worked for Apple during the 1980s and 1990s, told CNBC that working for Jobs was “sometimes unpleasant and always scary.”

“In the Macintosh Division, you had to prove yourself every day, or Jobs would get rid of you,” Kawasaki wrote. “He demanded excellence and kept you at the top of your game … but he led a lot of us to do the best work of ours.”


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