Apple Destroys $15 million, 45 Employee Business

If ever there was a more obvious example of when a corporation has too much control, I can’t think of one more than this. One low-level employee at Apple has put 45 lives and multiple millions of dollars at risk.

In a post on the company’s blog, appgratis CEO Simon Dawlat recounted the nightmare that his company experienced early this April.

A few hours before starting to write this, I landed in São Paulo, Brazil on a visit to our local office here. I turned on my iPhone after an exhausting 12-hour redeye from Paris, only to receive notifications for over 75 missed calls, and a seemingly infinite flow of unread text messages.

I almost fainted.

These things only happen when a relative or a friend dies, or gets caught in a terrible accident. I immediately thought that someone in my family had passed away during my flight and couldn’t touch my phone for a few minutes. Scared. Paralyzed. Trying to imagine what the terrible news could be.

But by now Apple has issued an official statement, and the Wall Street Journal has published it. And as you’ve guessed, my friends and relatives are fine. They’re just worried for me now.

The company had just raised $13.5 million in their first round of funding. With 12 million active users of their app-discovery service, they were ramping up content, growing their selection, and improving their apps. They’d built up a team of 45 employees. Times were good. In addition to the new funding, they’d just released a new unified version of their app, and their iPad app had been approved for the app store just days earlier.

 

And then they were banned, the victim of vague, anti-competition (seemingly antitrust) policies, which they had worked so hard with representatives of Apple to stay in line with. According to Dawlat, two employees of Apple’s App Approval department “guid[ed] us through the necessary changes we needed to bring AppGratis into the App Store”. A new employee decided he disagreed, and booted AppGratis entirely from the app store. And just like that, the future of 45 people was uncertain. Despite several frantic phone calls, this employee wouldn’t relent, or acknowledge that he was ruining lives.

The apps are still not back on the app store, but AppGratis isn’t giving up yet. In the interim, they’ve launched their platform for Android, bringing app discovery to a whole new platform, and they’ve made progress towards expanding their platform, and planning for the future. Still, thanks to Apple their future is uncertain. Read Dawlat’s more detailed post on the subject, to see exactly how horrible this is.

Should Corporations possess this much power, to build and destroy entire businesses?

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Michael Sitver

Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press. Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.

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