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Why Steve Jobs Turned Down The Idea Of A Big 30th-Anniversary Party

On Apple's 40th anniversary, one early exec remembers his grand plan to assemble all current and former workers for a stadium-sized party.

Why Steve Jobs Turned Down The Idea Of A Big 30th-Anniversary Party
[Photo: Carol M. Highsmith via Wikimedia Commons]

Though Apple anniversaries and other milestones are hugely important to the media and to loyal customers, the company has never made a big deal of such things—and there’s a good reason for that.

David PakmanPhoto: courtesy of Venrock

It’s illustrated very well in an anecdote from former Apple employee David Pakman, who interned at the company in the summers of 1987, 1988, and 1989, then worked full time as a product manager from 1991 through 1997. He’s now a partner at the venture capital firm Venrock, which was one of Apple's first institutional investors back in 1978, and has a long history with the company.

Almost exactly 10 years ago, Pakman tells Fast Company he had what he calls a "lucid dream" about holding a big 30th-anniversary celebration at the now-closed Candlestick Park in San Francisco for all the people who had ever worked at Apple. It would be a huge party celebrating the Apple phenomenon and all the talented people who made it what it was.

So Pakman emailed Steve Jobs and explained the lucid dream he’d had and suggested that the company actually put on the event. Pakman offered to toil away at the enormous task of setting it all up.

Jobs responded back right away:

David,

Apple is focused on the future, not the past.

—Steve

The idea for the 30th anniversary party ended right then and there.

And Jobs's unsentimental attitude about the company is embedded in Apple culture to this day. Rarely does the company look back and relish its people and achievements.

Not that it's never done so. At the 25th anniversary of the Mac, the company put up giant banners inside its headquarters listing all Apple employees down through the years, in order of when they’d worked there. Then there was the 40th anniversary video shown at the beginning of Apple’s last press event on March 21. Pakman says he was surprised to see the video.

Pakman cofounded Apple's Music Group, which was originally set up to help users rip and organize songs from CDs (remember CDs?)

Pakman says Venrock originally invested $288,000 of Apple’s $517,500 initial venture funding. The price of entry for the next funding round nine months later increased one hundred-fold.

Related: The History of Apple in Under 3 Minutes

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