Apple Inc. and General Electric are two of the most iconic American companies of the last century, but back in 1996 they almost become one company as GE CEO Jack Welch considered buying the computer maker.
It would have only cost GE $2 billion and the current Apple CEO, Michael Spindler, was begging Welch to pull the trigger on the deal in order to save the struggling company.
Bob Wright, the long-serving head of NBCUniversal which was owned by GE, revealed that Jack Welch passed on the opportunity because GE couldn’t manage it.
“The stock price was $20, and [Spindler] was explaining he couldn’t get the company moving fast enough and the analysts were on his case,” Wright told the New York Post. “He was sweating like mad and everybody said, ‘We can’t manage technology like that.’ We had a chance to buy it for $2 billion.”
How GE would’ve incorporated Apple into its business can only be guessed at, but it would have seemed like an odd fit for the young tech darling to get taken over by the old industrial corporation. The Apple brand may have been killed along with most of the products, while GE took advantage of Apple’s patents and tech know-how.
Instead, the deal fell through. Steve Jobs came back and created the iMac, iPhone, and iPad, turning Apple into the most profitable company in the world. Today Apple is worth about $607 billion while GE is worth less than half that at $296 billion.