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Why Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak doesn't invest in stocks

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak
Photo by Sean Gallup

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is a Silicon Valley legend. He's no longer involved with the company he helped build, although he is still on the Apple payroll, yet he remains a figure of prominence 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 an 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 Jobs, right, with his friend and co-founder, Steve Wozniak
Tony Avelar | Bloomberg | 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, California, his hometown. "I was born there, and I have a street named after me there because of it," he says.

Wozniak gained his fair share of wealth when Apple went public and is worth millions. But his fortune is nowhere close to that of Steve Jobs, Wozniak's Apple co-founder, who was worth around $10.2 billion when he passed away in 2011.

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One initial reason for this contrast 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 once 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."

This is an updated version of a previously published article.

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