Bill Gates Once Helped Steve Jobs With a $150 Million Investment in Apple

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs share a lot in common in terms of their careers, net worth, and philanthropy.

Dan Clarendon - Author

Feb. 18 2021, Published 11:30 a.m. ET

Bill Gates in 2005
Source: Getty Images

There’s a lot of talk about Bill Gates versus Steve Jobs, but the two tech titans were closer than people might realize. Gates even helped save Apple with a $150 million investment in 1997 when the company was flailing.

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“Apple was in very serious trouble,” Jobs said at a tech conference 10 years later, according to CNBC. “And what was really clear was that if the game was a zero-sum game where for Apple to win, Microsoft had to lose, then Apple was going to lose…Apple was very weak and so I called Bill up and we tried to patch things up.”

What were Bill Gates and Steve Jobs’s careers?

Gates, co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft, now chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is reported to be the world’s largest philanthropic organization.

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Steve Jobs
Source: Getty Images

Steve Jobs in 2002

Jobs, who died in 2011, was the co-founder and CEO of Apple. During a decade-long exile from the company between 1985 and 1997, Jobs founded the computer company NeXT and helped start Pixar.

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How did Bill Gates's and Steve Jobs’s net worth compare?

In Sept. 2011, the month before he died of cancer at age 56, Jobs’s net worth was $7 billion, according to Forbes. The magazine also reports that most of his wealth came from his stake in Pixar. Because of Disney’s purchase of Pixar in 2006, Jobs ended up with about $4.47 billion in Disney stock.

That same year, Gates had a net worth of $56 billion, according to The Hollywood Reporter. His fortune has more than doubled in the years since. According to the magazine’s Real-Time Billionaires List, his net worth is $124 billion.

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What’s the Microsoft vs. Apple valuation?

Microsoft’s market cap is $1.84 trillion, while Apple’s is $2.24 trillion. The Cupertino-based company crossed that $2-trillion threshold in Aug. 2020. “Apple’s $2 trillion valuation represents about 10 percent of GDP for the U.S. and about 7 percent of the S&P 500,” University of Maryland finance professor David Kass told NBC News at the time. “Its iPhone is ubiquitous. It has transformed the way we live. Its ecosystem is self-sustaining.”

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What were Bill Gates's and Steve Jobs’s philanthropic efforts?

In 2020, USA Today reported that Gates had given $50 billion to charity at that point. He and wife Melinda Gates, who founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 1994, joined Warren Buffett in founding The Giving Pledge in 2010. Wealthy people who join it pledge to give away most or all of their wealth during their lifetimes or after their deaths.

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By contrast, Jobs made no charitable contributions publicly, as New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin pointed out around the time—though Sorkin did note the possibility that Jobs gave money away anonymously. His widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, told the The New York Times in 2020 that she plans to give away her $28 billion in assets during her lifetime or shortly after her death.

Were Bill Gates and Steve Jobs friends?

Gates and Jobs were both rivals and friends, as Gates wrote on his blog upon Jobs’s death. “Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors, and friends over the course of more than half our lives,” the former businessman reflected at the time. “The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.”


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