Sculley and his collaborator (the management editor at Business Week) have produced a great pudding of a book with two main,...


ODYSSEY: Pepsi to Apple. . .A Journey of Adventure, Ideas and the Future

Sculley and his collaborator (the management editor at Business Week) have produced a great pudding of a book with two main, if not wholly consonant, ingredients. The first is an exhaustive, ultimately exhausting account of how the Cola Wars veteran quit tradition-bound PepsiCo for upstart Apple Computer, which (at the cost of a convulsive reorganization) he has managed to put into a three-way competition with IBM and Digital Equipment for corporate bookings. The second is a near-rhapsodic appreciation of advanced technology's transforming potential. Recruited in 1983 by Apple (which had ushered in the personal computer era seven years earlier), Sculley (then 44) soon became an ardent apostle of Silicon Valley's new-age wares and ways. (On almost any pretext, for example, he'll discuss the computer as a medium rather than a tool.) After a brief honeymoon, the new CEO faced possible disaster attributable in about equal measure to his initially modest grasp of technical realities, Apple's gonzo folkways, and an interim slump in demand for PCs. Sculley dealt decisively and effectively with the 1985 crisis, not only restoring the company to a sound footing but also opening up prospectively lucrative commercial markets. Among the casualties of the restructuring, though, was Steve Jobs, the abrasive, willful co-founder who wielded unfortunately divisive influence, His departure seems to have caused Sculley genuine anguish, but he leaves little doubt the ouster was necessary--and probably inevitable. Securely out of the soft-drink industry, Sculley is now into ""making a difference."" Whether Apple will prove the counterculture enterprise to achieve this elusive, ambiguous goal remains an open question. In the meantime, Sculley offers a curiously conventional, overly detailed, and deadly earnest log of his stewardship that blends uneasily at best with the text's perfervid flights of fancy. Apple's promotional prowess may produce a sales success, but the author has made a largely tedious hash of his own life story.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1987