Some $2 billion over budget and a year behind schedule, Steve Jobs's extravagant spaceship-shaped Apple headquarters dream, Campus 2, is turning into more of a nightmare than the office of the future — and investors don't like it. It's not that an extra couple billion dollars is that big of a problem for a company with $137 billion in cash reserves, but the extravagance of the new Cupertino development does have some worried. "It would take some convincing for me to understand why $5 billion is the right number for a project like this," Keith Goddard, the chief executive of Tulsa-based Capital Advisors, which owns 30,537 shares of Apple, tells Bloomberg Businessweek's Peter Burrows. At the going rate, Burrows estimates, Apple's new campus would cost more than the new World Trade Center complex, which has had its fair share of problems — albeit with more symbolism at stake than single-company capitalism. Goddard is more upset that Apple is being "so stingy" with dividends, but Capital's Goddard has another concern: If Apple stock continues its trajectory, the overpriced California complex, which is still tailored to meet the the late Jobs's very specific tastes, would "perpetuate the negative story." Campus 2, it appears, is a symbol of excess when Apple needs a symbol of corporate dominance, not fading futurism.
It wouldn't be the first time an over-the-top headquarters was symbolic of a tech company's fading peak. This "campus curse" most famously hit Borland Software, which built a $120 million campus that was full capacity when it opened in 1993. Now: "It's a monument to one of the most notable examples of how fleeting corporate success can be," explains CNET's Steve Tobak. Other tech big-timers, like Sun Microsystems and Silicon Graphics, have invested in large, expensive office parks, only to see the company fade not too long thereafter.