Last May while sitting around in one of the slow moments at my job at totallwackjavastartup.com, I was looking at my E*Trade account that had been languishing for a few years since all my Nortel stock crashed-- and I was about to buy an Apple PowerBook 17", so I decided to put my money where my mouth was. I was always a big fan of Apple, ever since getting my first home computer, an Apple II+, in 1981, which was the first machine I learned to program on. So I took the remaining cash that I had in my E*Trade account, and just for laughs, I bought 30 shares of Apple.... and then pretty much forgot about it.
So a few weeks ago I get a proxy statement and the SEC 10K from E*Trade, and as an Apple shareholder, I'm invited to the annual shareholders' meeting on April 22. Whoa. I had gotten proxy statements before from companies that I'd worked at where I had been silly enough to participate in the Employee Stock Purchase Plan, but this was the first time I actually got an invite to a shareholders' meeting at a place where I wasn't already working. And hey, it was Apple, a company that I'd had an on-and-off love affair with over the last 22 years.
So, running really late, and getting stuck in traffic, I finally make my way over to the campus that we've always gawked away at from afar, and I parked at Infinite Loop, Building 1, where the visitors usually check in. I ran into a bearded guy that was walking back to his car. "You here for the shareholders' meeting?", he asked. Turns out it was actually in building 4, all the way on the other side of Infinite Loop. Back in the car, and reparking.
Once I made it to Building 4, there were lots of security and facilities people there, complete with metal detectors that you had to walk through.. kind of like airport security used to be before the TSA started doing rectal and body cavity exams. Wasn't expecting that at a shareholders' meeting, but knowing the drill, I put my cell phone, keys, and wallet into the basket and walked through the metal detectors.
They definitely are strict at Apple with the close of meeting times, I got there at 10:02 and they had closed the doors to the main auditorium immediately at 10:00:00.0. So I couldn't get into the main auditorium where the company officers were, I had to go upstairs to the overflow room where we watched the proceedings on a video projected screen.
They had a bagel and coffee table, but the coffee wasn't all that great, tasted bitter, like the Cain's Coffee they have at gas stations and at NAI; I hope they serve better coffee at the company cafeterias, I'd like to work there someday. On I went to the room where the Controller and CFO were giving their instructions on how to vote.
Interestingly enough, since Al Gore was on the board of directors, and they were taking a vote to reelect the board, I got to vote for Al Gore all over again, which was kind of fun... and unlike the last time, this time the Supreme Court didn't appoint someone else anyway after Al won; I was just hoping to see him at the shareholders' meeting, but he wasn't there. Oh well, so long as he's out fighting against the evil BushCorp, he doesn't have to be there.
I was hoping to get a little bit of the Steve Jobs glitz like he tends to do at MacWorld, but he actually looked kinda scruffy, unshaven and with his graying hair, wearing his trademark black sweater and jeans that he always wears. He was flanked by the CFO, VPs of Engineering and Sales, and the rest of the company officers during the Q&A Portion of the meeting, which was mildly entertaining.
There were some contentious shareholders there, especially the independent resellers that were highly pissed about the Apple Stores allegedly getting preferential treatment over their stores, and some people unhappy with Apple's small share of the desktop marketplace; Steve, ever the spinmeister that he is, deftly fielded the questions, it was interesting to watch his personal reality distortion field at work, but for the most part he was pretty much on target. And he did a better job of articulating himself and handling the tough questions than the CEO of my current company, totallwacknetworkingstartup.com.
BTW, there's more information on what all happened at the shareholders' meeting at http://www.macnn.com/news/24379 , if you're interested.
Right before the meeting had its last question, I headed for the door, and sprinted to my car to get out of the parking lot before the traffic jam of 800+ shareholders all left at the same time. After all, I was already late for work by then, but not to be denied my first Apple visit. ;)