Why Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak doesn't trust money

Steve Wozniak
Philippe Lopez | AFP | Getty Images

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is a Silicon Valley legend. Though he's no longer involved with the company he helped build, Wozniak remains a figure in the tech world, speaking at conferences and offering insights on the state of the industry. He even did a stint on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" back in 2009.

But his attitude toward money is surprisingly different from that of most of his peers.

In a recent interview with Fortune, the tech icon shares his straightforward investing strategy, which is to avoid it and to keep his distance from finance altogether.

"I do not invest. I don't do that stuff," Wozniak tells Fortune. "I didn't want to be near money, because it could corrupt your values."

Steve Wozniak
Getty Images

Wozniak says he doesn't like the growing Silicon Valley trend of "engineers as rock stars," a construct that didn't exist at the time he was helping build Apple: "Mostly it's because of how much money they have — and I went the other way. I did not want to be one of them."

Wozniak aimed to build innovative products and improve the world with Apple, not to get rich. "I really didn't want to be in that super 'more than you could ever need' category," he says.

Rather, Wozniak chose to invest in things close to his heart, such as museums in San Jose, Calif., his hometown. "I was born there, and I have a street named after me there because of it," he says.

Steve Jobs on stage in front of an old photo of Jobs and Steve Wozniak
Tony Avelar | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Wozniak gained his fair share of wealth when Apple went public: Today, he's worth an estimated $100 million. By contrast, Steve Jobs, Wozniak's Apple co-founder, was worth around $10.2 billion when he passed away in 2011.

One initial reason for this divergence in net worth is Wozniak's disinterest in money from the start. Back in 1980, he offered $10 million of his own stock to early Apple employees, something Jobs refused to do. He later called the move "the right thing" to do. Jobs' eventual fortune also came primarily from his stake in Disney, not from his Apple earnings.

Current CEO of Apple Tim Cook shares Wozniak's concerns about the way riches can corrupt. He recently told college students, "Don't work for money — it will wear out fast, or you'll never make enough and you will never be happy, one or the other."

Instead, he suggested, "You have to find the intersection of doing something you're passionate about and at the same time something that is in the service of other people."

Don't miss: Why Jeff Bezos prioritizes something other CEOs don't

Lessons to learn from Elon Musk's appreciation of Benjamin Franklin's biography
Related Video
Lessons to learn from Elon Musk's appreciation of Benjamin Franklin's biography