From Soda King to Rotting Apple


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For someone to be considered a fallen hero they would have had to be a hero to begin with. While most high level executives are very respected people I do not consider them hero’s. With that being said I chose John Sculley. If you have seen the movie Jobs, then you most likely already know who John Sculley is. Sculley started working for Pepsi in 1967 at a bottling plant in Pittsburgh.  Working his way up from the bottom Sculley became Vice President of marketing  at the age of 30. From 1970 to 1983 Sculley served as the Vice President and then later President for Pepsi. At Pepsi Sculley was most well known for his expertise in marketing. While at Pepsi he introduced the Pepsi Challenge which was huge for Pepsi helping them gain market share on Coca-Cola.

In 1983 Sculley was offered and excepted the position of CEO at Apple.  In his early years at Apple the company saw some success, although some say this success was caused by  Steve Jobs. While at Apple Sculley made several mistakes like trying to compete directly with IBM,  focusing to  much on current products and profitability rather than innovation, Apple’s Newton, and most notably getting rid of Steve Jobs. After 10 years at Apple Sculley was forced to step down. Unlike these other executives Sculley’s downfall was not caused by fraudulent acts, but you could say that greed played a part in his move from Pepsi to Apple.  Sculley went from being one of the best executives to one of the worst. In 2010 Business insider placed Sculley on the list of 15 worst CEO’s in America history. I think this is a little harsh considering sales at Apple rose from 800 million to 8 billion in Sculley’s time there. At the same time looking at where Apple is now and looking how much of a positive impact that Steve Jobs has made to the company it would be hard to say that John Sculley didn’t make some really bad decisions at his time at Apple.

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4 thoughts on “From Soda King to Rotting Apple

  1. I like that you chose someone who didn’t commit fraudulent acts, but still could be considered a “fallen hero.” Sculley’s faults were not related to accounting tricks or deceiving shareholders. Rather, Sculley’s actions were focused on greed by pushing Steve Jobs out of Apple and pushing Apple into competition it was not suited for. It’s also really interesting to see how his success at Pepsi turned into great defeat at Apple. Clearly these two companies are vastly different and thus require very different leadership.

  2. Like Michaela, I also enjoyed reading about an executive that did not commit any felonies during his duration as CEO. I also really liked how you discussed the “hero” aspect of this assignment. To people like us, we may not view figures such as John Sculley or Richard Scrushy as heros; however, we must accept that the people on Wall Street may believe they are. This belief is most likely a direct result of the innovation brought to the marketplace by these high level execs.

  3. I have a feeling that it is not really fair to call Sculley a fallen hero. Different from the other people we mentioned in the posts, he did not commit any felonies. He was just not doing very well in Apple. I think everyone has different expertise, and simply bought a CEO from Pepsi does not looks like a smart move to me for Apple. I believe his success in Pepsi was mostly based on his decades of experience in front line of Pepsi factories. But in Apple, he might be as ordinary as any of the employees there. I felt sorry for him about chosen the wrong path.

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