Former Apple CEO John Sculley On Exponential Time, And Living To Be 115

| Health Care


It’s been more than 25 years since former Pepsi CEO John Sculley was forced out of his leadership role at Apple in October 1993 — ending one of the most scrutinized business relationships in American history.

The 79-year-old former CEO of what briefly became America’s first trillion-dollar company has been keeping busy.

“I’m 79, but I’m in extraordinarily good health,” Sculley said. “I do an hour of Pilates every day. I run every day. I eat well. I’m trim. I think I’ll probably live to be at least 115 or so. I’m having too much fun.”

In 2007, Sculley co-founded Zeta Global with David Steinberg, now CEO of Zeta, which Sculley describes as “the largest independent personalized marketing company maybe in the world.”

Zeta has more than 1,300 employees and manages about 715 million unique profile names, processing billions of data points every month, according to Sculley.

“We have some of the largest consumer and enterprise clients in the world who use our services,” Sculley said. “We’re growing very fast, and we’re very profitable.”

Sculley won’t divulge revenue numbers for the privately held Zeta, but he says its valuation is between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.

Then there’s RxAdvance, founded in 2013, where Sculley is chief marketing officer and serves on the board of directors. The company’s mission is to disrupt and redefine Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) by utilizing the cloud, artificial intelligence and “deep data analysis.”

“This world-class intelligent platform operates with 40% lower operating costs than other PBMs and effectively reduces costs for health plan sponsors,” the RxAdvance website claims. “These cost savings provided additional reduced administrative fees, reduced drug unit costs, and increased rebate income.”

Sculley points out there’s nothing bigger in the U.S. economy than health care, a $3.5 trillion industry that he says is “ripe for disruption.”

“No industry has more money being invested in it right now than health care,” Sculley said.

Sculley is also involved in a company called Celularity, serving as vice-chairman of the board of directors. Celularity is a biotech company that uses placental stem cells to “amplify” the body’s ability to fight disease, heal and regenerate itself, according to the company website.

“We have the largest placenta stem cell bank in the world,” Sculley said. “The thing that makes them interesting is they can be turned into almost any other kind of cell.”

Sculley says Celularity, based in Warren, New Jersey, is focused on curing life-threatening cancers.

“We have designed the company not only to have breakthroughs in cancer, but also to scale to large numbers of patients, once we get full FDA approval,” Sculley said. “It’s incredibly exciting.”

The big innovations in the world are no longer tracking in linear time, but in exponential time, according to Sculley. He recalls that when he was running Apple, the company bought a Cray supercomputer for $26 million, and today the simplest digital device has more computing power than the Cray.

To further illustrate exponential time, Sculley cites a Chinese bicycle-sharing company called ofo, founded in 2014.

“Last year they rented 35 million bicycles a day,” Sculley said. “By next year they say they will rent 300 million a day. That’s changing in exponential time. All of us who grew up in linear time have a hard time getting our heads around how they can grow that fast. That’s the world millennials are living in.”

For his part, Sculley is embracing exponential time, despite growing up in the linear era.

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