What Apple could have bought with its $100 billion cash

What Apple could have bought with its $100 billion cash

Summary: $100 billion is an impossible amount to own. Bill Gates, once the world's richest man, only had two-thirds of Apple's current cash reserve. Here's what Apple could have bought.


What would you do with $100 billion? Would you swim in a bath of dollar notes, or would you buy a mansion for every one of your friends? You could travel into space as a tourist, or give it away to charity.

$100 billion would be almost impossible to blow in a lifetime for any ordinary person. Even for a company, it wouldn't be the easiest thing to do, and we're not just talking about buying, hiring and acquiring.

Just look at Research in Motion, or Yahoo.

Apple today said it will give company investors a dividend --- a chunk back of their money --- to say thanks, and plans to buy back stock worth $10 billion.

But it missed a few opportunities. While the company is far from philanthropic, its cash reserves alone could have fed all 6 billion people in the world for a week.

Apple could have done so much with its $100 billion cash reserves, but instead decided to give it back to investors. I'm not saying for a second it was a bad decision, but I personally wouldn't mind travelling to space one day.

Here's what Apple could have done with its current cash reserve:

Give $100 one-time dividend for every Apple shareholder, which could have given investors back millions of dollars. Instead, Apple is giving a dividend of $2.65 per share sometime from July 1 onwards. It's far from being a bad deal, though.

Invest in 200 million iPads for every U.S. school and college student, with enough left over for a dedicated iPad for every classroom in the country. Education is our future investment, and if tablets are the next best thing to reinvigorate our kids into reading again, then it can't be a bad thing.

Buy 400 billion individually wrapped Twinkie's that could feed billions for weeks, or millions for all of 25 days. While the theory goes that Twinkie's could survive nuclear blasts, their shelf life is officially less than a calendar month. Shame.

Buy 33.3 billion Starbucks caffé lattes. Coffee keeps the world turning over, particularly the United States, which seems to drink more coffee than the English drink tea. And I should know. I'm drinking a brew as I write this.

Buy a pre-IPO Facebook, and turned it into an even better social network. At an estimated $82 billion, the world's most popular social network could be bought with plenty left over. Apple has "helped" Facebook in the past, particularly during its early days, and could have reaped its reward in advertising sales; something its own iAd platform never accomplished.

Pay off the UK's budget £43.94 billion ($69.6 billion) deficit and with plenty left over. Private companies often ease the burden on public services, like prisons to healthcare, education and maintenance. Imagine if the White Cliffs of Dover had an Apple logo tattooed onto it? It would certainly make the French think twice before invading us --- again.

Buy 59 gift-wrapped Space Shuttle Endeavours, which would be seemingly pointless as NASA scrapped its shuttle venture late last year in favour of a new rocket. Apple could go into the space tourism business, or

Buy 3,600 islands worth $25 million each, like Dark Island, Vermont. Every "evil" company needs a lair to conduct mischief, and plot crimes against humanity --- even if it is in the form of shiny, pretty gadgets.

Acquire (and fire) Yahoo, and Research in Motion, and don't they need it. While Yahoo battles Facebook over poxy patents as it barely has its head above the surface, and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is no better off, Apple could swoop in and save the two from certain doom.

Give every U.S. citizen a months worth of gasoline. With rising gas and diesel prices, Apple could pull off a philanthropic move of mammoth proportions and ultimately save hundreds if not thousands for each U.S. citizen. The rush to the pumps however would probably cause a speed-up in oil production, which would then have a lasting effect on the environment. A good deed ill-fated, perhaps.

Pay off the pirates, again --- because Apple has already crafted an ingenious plan with its iTunes Match service to 'legitimise' a pirate music collection for $25 a year, with proceeds going back to the record companies. According to sister site CNET, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) said illegal file-sharers cost the economy $100 billion a year. Businesses would be wealthy again, but the 'problem' of piracy would persist.

Bail out Greece, which has a debt of around €130 billion ($172 billion). It would be enough to give the Mediterranean country a second lease of life --- provided the Greeks actually start paying tax. Apple could throw its cash reserves into the country, and in return, it could probably convince the government to call the country "iGreece". Maybe, anyway.

$323 tax rebate to every U.S. citizen, which would ironically almost be enough for every U.S. citizen to buy an older iPad 2. Apple would lose out only by a fraction, and would make back most of it in profits. Genius.

Every NFL team three times over, as the average football team is worth around a billion dollars. There are only 32 football teams in existence, giving Apple money left over to throw each team --- and their fans --- a full-day party. Plus, the investment would be well in Apple's favour, with a steady revenue stream coming in from visitors, fans, merchandise sales, and sponsorship deals.

Image credit: James Martin/CNET.


Topics: Apple, Banking, Government US, Mobility, Security

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Give it to me!!! Hey! I think I've earned it:)

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
  • Not really accurate

    Actually, it is $30.1 billion in cash and short-term investments, and $67.4 billion in long-term investments

    Though, I did get at what you where playing at. :)
    William Farrel
  • Umm

    Maybe they could cover all the fraudulent transactions that are coming from their App Store... Mfunny, I don't see Zdnet covering that one.
    • Please do tell:). Can't wait to see your source!

      I've asked for this kind of thing in the past and some actually provided links to obscure pro MS and or Pro Open Source web pages filled with articles with a very specific "I hate everything Apple" kind of spin. Curious as to where you get your take on things myself:)

      Pagan Jim
      James Quinn
      • You tell me

        Is the telegraph Considered pro Android?


        It was linked on Tom's Hardware with the source right at the top.
      • I'll give you this it's a legitimate story the part I like is this:

        Peter Perry

        "David Edery, the chief executive of Spry Fox, a software company which sells games in the App Store, said that because the platform is so popular, these types of security glitches were just par for the course"

        And of course the quote from Apple that they are working on the issue. Which I fully expected.

        To which I ask you "So?" Apple is aware of the problem and working on a solution you would prefer what exactly? That they be less popular? That's a rhetorical question by the by.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Let me ask you this...

        @James Quinn


        Does it matter to the people getting ripped off repeatedly if "Apple is working on the problem"? And this guys statement from Applebshowed the cash being from Last Year so, how long have they been working on the problem?

        You guys talk about Android being a problem and lack of security... Sounds like there's a lot of fraudulent money floating around out there inside the walled garden!

        Also, how much of this is going un-noticed and being reported as legit income?

        Here is a part I find interesting...

        "Hoolai Game, a Beijing-based developer that introduced an iPhone app last year, looked at its monthly payments from Apple and found that they were roughly 20 to 50 percent less than the sum of the daily reports it gets from the company. Hoolai and others say they believe these missing payments are fraudulent transactions that are wiped out by Apple"

        Seriously man, spin 20 - 50% in a positive way!

        Or how about this aspect...

        "More troubling for developers is that consumers whose accounts have been improperly charged often blame the game makers. The reviews in the App Store for Kingdom Conquest, from the Japanese game giant Sega, include dozens from incensed users who accuse Sega of robbing them. Sega, which first noticed a burst of fraudulent transactions last summer, is still working on the problem, according to Ben Harborne, a brand manager at the company."
      • First point don't think I've made statement one against

        Peter Perry
        Android security. I just don't like Android nor it's parent company Google. Don't like the fit nor the finish of these products to my way of doing things. Nor do I have any faith in the something for nothing plan which turns out to be a whole lot of something like my info and of all people advertisers the scum of the earth if you were to ask me. So no it's not for me secure or not that is not the point nor has it ever been for me.

        Now as to Apple working on it sure I'm good with that. What would you prefer they don't work on it and ignore it? Now these companies have complained in the press sure but are any leaving Apple or the App store because of these issues? No!?! Well since I read a fairly recent article about an game maker who recently left Android but is still publishing for Apple go figure:) So until these developers actually jump ship I figure thing plus side of doing business with Apple must be better than the down side. And once Apple solves this problem which they so will they will be even better off.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • I don't hate either

        @james Quinn I don't hate either company but I don't like one being given a free pass while the other is skewered for the same issues.

        As for the iPad, I don't hate the iPad... iOS is a much better fit for the iPad than it is for the iPhone... I just feel the Sony Tablet S is a better fit for my life style with its livingroom centric approach and The iPad is moving towards a PC replacement... I don't need a PC Replacement, I have a MacBook Air and a Windows Desktop!

        I do hate the iPhone, that is so gimped compared to my Rezound I cannot even believe the limitations. When they said Android, wasn't designed for a tablet, they moved iOS in the direction of the tablet and it impacted the phones.
      • Nor do I HATE Google/Android.

        Peter Perry
        Just not a fan of either. You ever see the BBC show Being Human or the SIFI spin off or remake of the same name? It's about a Vampire, Werewolf and Ghost living in a house trying to get along with humanity on humanities terms. The person I like the most is the Vampire who struggles with his addiction/need for blood and how during the show he keeps being pulled either by his own instincts and or others who don't want him to succeed like say other vampires away from the good and back into the bad. I look at Google sort of like that poor well meaning Vampire. Their heart maybe in the right place but when you sleep with dogs (advertisers) and that is the source of your revenue stream, you are bound to wake up with flee's or as the line in the God Father goes "Every time I think I am out... They pull me back in" I can not imagine this struggle is not currently going on inside Google and I can't see a day when it will ever be settled especially on the good end of the ledger. As for products I don't have a complaint with the iPhone myself. And I don't own and iPad just a fan and I know a couple people who do and they show me their iPad when they stop by for a visit.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
    • Get in touch.

      Funny you should mention that. Feel free to email me using the contact form in my short bio above.

  • Just to point out

    you say "Bill Gates [b]only[/b] had 2/3 of that". But what you leave out is that's one individual from Microsoft, not the entire Microsoft corporation. Considering Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have approached that number by themselves it's not all that much for Apple to have as a company.
  • Left one out

    What about pay for the Federal Government's deficit, for only one month.
  • "Pay off pirates"

    [i]Pay off the pirates, again because Apple has already crafted an ingenious plan with its iTunes Match service to legitimise a pirate music collection for $25 a year,[/i]

    Their "we don't care whether it's legitimate or not" approach is [i][b]brilliant[/b][/i]--and I'm not being facetious. What does "we'll automatically upgrade your music collection to 256k and you don't have to upload" [i][b]really[/b][/i] mean? Instead of server space for 2-10 megabytes per song they have maybe [i][b]100 bytes[/b][/i] for a link! Absolute genius!--slashes their hardware and maintenance costs massively vis-a-vis their competitors.
  • Why this is mentioned?

    [quote]While the company is far from philanthropic, its cash reserves alone could have fed all 6 billion people in the world for a week.[/quote]
    Why this is mentioned? Microsoft had huge unpaid earned profits and it never was philanthropic about it.

    Also, [b]your claim that Apple is "far from philanthropic", is false[/b]: Apple became all-time biggest charitable contributor in Bono's PRODUCT RED initiative (no, it was not lovely RIM, HP, Dell, Samsung or whatever else company), and it matched all of its employees' transfers to charity (yes, during Jobs' times; last time under Jobs it was year ago, after catastrophes in Japan). Failure in quality of reporting.
  • What Apple could have bought with its $100 billion cash

    [i]What would you do with $100 billion?[/i]
    Two chics at the same time.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Again with the over paying!!!

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
  • First protect the company's future

    Look at how Apple has used cash over the recent years"

    - investment in R&D, even during The Great Recession

    - investment in buying production equipment, even during The Great Recession

    - investment in prepaid components, even during The Great Recession

    - investment in growth of retail outlets around the world, even during The Great Recession

    - investment in both OS X and iOS development, even during The Great Recession

    During the Great Recession Apple was able to operate aggressively because they had the cash and didn't have to go begging the banks to loan them money for growth.

    That cash strength gave Apple the strength to explosively enter new markets, like the iPhone and iPad.

    So dividends are fine as long as they don't impact Apple's ability to maintain a cash balance of around $100 Billion
    • spending during the recession...

      anyone who understands economics knows that hording during a recession (more than normal) will possibly allow you to survive a bit longer, but will also increase the duration of said recession.

      The way a recession ends, is when people (businesses included) start spending money again. When your financial buffer is enough that you don't have to worry about even a long term loss of income, ceasing to spend only helps to prolong the issue.
  • Ireland

    I have the misfortune to live in Ireland and suggest they buy the country and deport all the politicians, developers and bankers, without their confiscated assets. They might even end up making a profit.