My father was a senior engineer and manager at NeXT, and I often came to the office with him as they built their own manufacturing line. I learned to write my first GUI code on a NeXT Color Station in my father's lab on weekends when he'd go into work. I got to meet Jobs more than once. I realized early on he was a strange and scary guy and that I didn't want to be like him.
Surely ya'll have heard the "triangle firing" story from NeXT? A senior engineer had, as a joke, a triangle up on the wall who's points were labeled "On time, Complete, Under Budget" and at the bottom, "Pick any two." This is a slightly cynical take on a pretty famous constraint diagram. Steve Jobs looked at this and literally fired the guy on the spot for having a "bad attitude." It didn't matter that "it's a joke."
At Apple, Jobs was famously abusive with his staff, demanding that each one be able to entertain and interest him even if that was clearly not their job. It's not a joke to say folks avoided Jobs whenever they could, you could end up with double workload or pressure on your manager or whatever just because you couldn't articulate your current work in a compelling way.
Maybe he succeeded because he was these things, but to many people he was a frightening, tyrannical, capricious person.
What about your interactions with him gave you that impression? Genuinely curious.
Not like I had a choice. Holy crap what would my dad have even done to me if I had decided not to go to college...
If I had the chance to get a job as a programmer straight out of school, I might have chosen that and go to school part time.
It's not like most folks even remember NeXT.
Feedback like this is based on limited interaction with someone at one point in their life, and I hope that many 21-year-olds mature and find their element later.
Job's wasn't 100% successful in all his products, but he was persistent. Even the failures didn't stop him from trying the next thing (Lisa, Newton, eMate, Pipin). Even the original mac had lac-luster sales at first.
flaky: "Told him we'd like to see what they've got — we'd estimate — then decide. Sounds flaky. Watch it!" Reasonable to me.
Really he was reacting with reasonable skepticism to a true garage startup with no revenue and a tiny budget. He was concerned about getting paid.
It's also important to remember that Apple was an also-ran among the huge number of companies that dipped their toes into the microprocessor market when it first appeared. Very few survived. Apple only barely survived. Their status as a market Juggernaut is a fairly recent change.
Not surprised an ad exec didn't like him in those days.
He wrote: "That's why people proposing to destroy [hacker culture] use phrases like "adult supervision." That was the phrase they used at Yahoo. But there are worse things than seeming irresponsible. Losing, for example."
Is that from an article or a book? I’m curious to have a look myself.
Yes, Paul Graham is opinionated, for good or bad.
Really, the only thing you need for certain as an entrepreneur is courage -- because you can't teach that.
15 yeas ago, the default position of the space launch industry was to ignore Elon Musk. He could barely get a laugh. 10 years ago, the industry was starting to laugh. Unfortunately they were still laughing 5 years ago, at his ridiculous self-landing rockets -- as if that would ever be a thing -- And now he has, for all intents and purposes, won. That's just the life-cycle for this kind of thing.
Of course worth nothing that 99% of the time the Status Quo laughs at someone or something, it's because that someone or something will never amount to beans. Ridicule is a universal feature of disruptive innovation -- if nobody is ignoring or ridiculing you, you're definitely not being disruptive -- but it correlates much more strongly to failure than to success.
He was flaky and kind of a joke though. His entire life the only times he managed to be a decent contributor was when he was the boss of an entire company and got his way 100% of the time. Even then he was an incredibly toxic leader and was known for throwing tantrums on a regular basis.
He was incredibly talented, but he had more than his fair share of personality defects.
He was young, had a relatively crazy idea, no sales or customers, and no money. And a humongous personality and ego. If anything I can’t imagine describing him any other way to a coworker.
(I’m not trying to be judgmental here, just trying to find a common measure)
1. Repeatedly failing to keep promises and coming up with excuses, very unlike Jobs who would not let even his VP's miss a deadline.
2. His rant on the earnings call with a few analysts who were asking genuine questions seemed so immature. You could never imagine Jobs would do such a thing.
3. His challenge with Buffett about moats and starting a candy company. This seemed so utterly silly and childish although you could argue he was joking. But again, I just cannot imagine Jobs talking like a loose character in public.
FYI:- I am long Tesla stock and think it could still be a great company although my confidence in that is a bit down at the moment.
2) Same "question" - which was actually just an analyst gainsaying the firm's estimate, not a question at all - three times in a row as if it hadn't been answered the first time. It's not childish to refuse incivility. It's childish to pretend incivility is civility.
3) "Moats" - actually Network Effects that are typically leveraged as illegal extensions of market power. (As was the case in question: with Musk refusing to illegally block the interoperability of Tesla's charging stations.) Musk felt maybe staying on the right side of the law (enforced or not) might be cool. You don't. That's nice. This realm of law hasn't been enforced much since the end of the seventies, but it's still there. The fact that it's usually grownups who go to jail, doesn't mean it's childish to obey the law.
Why shouldn't Musk start a candy company as his responce to Buffet's chortled taunt if he cares to? Gotta be more fun than production hell. Or even start a tunnel company. (He said he was serious re candy. Maybe he likes candy.)
Granted, Jobs profits came from a closed system and illegal moats vs interoperability (not that those laws, or many others, are enforced vs corporations very often.) Whereas Musk doesn't admire those who leverage mere Network Efforts.
If you want more detail, you'll want to find a transcript of Musk's teleconference with reporters on May 10 2018.
Now what are your sources, sir, that justify your scorn, certainty and incivility?
You just asked me to read what I've already read; the price drop was announced in that May 10 teleconference. There was no explanation of why the price was dropped, so reuse may have been a part of the price drop.
If he were reinventing the shipping or fertilizer industry while burning as much cash and treating his employees as poorly, no one would idolize him the way he is idolized now.
Steve Jobs was also famous for being a shitty boss.
Also, I'm not sure if I agree with the transcription in one part. Doesn't seem to be "Our catalog sheets", but rather "10 (something?) catalog sheets". The (something) is probably an abbreviation or shorthand. Maybe 10 inch? Or 10 thousand? I really don't understand the context well enough to be sure, but it seems like the writer thinks he's being unrealistic and asking for more than he needs for a price that's not realistic. Which would make the "joker" assessment pretty understandable.
It's the 30 year anniversary of CHI’88 (May 15–19, 1988), where Jack Callahan, Ben Shneiderman, Mark Weiser and I (Don Hopkins) presented our paper “An Empirical Comparison of Pie vs. Linear Menus”. We found pie menus to be about 15% faster and with a significantly lower error rate than linear menus!
So I've written up a 30 year retrospective:
This article will discuss the history of what’s happened with pie menus over the last 30 years (and more), present both good and bad examples, including ideas half baked, experiments performed, problems discovered, solutions attempted, alternatives explored, progress made, software freed, products shipped, as well as setbacks and impediments to their widespread adoption.
Here is the main article, and some other related articles:
Pie Menus: A 30 Year Retrospective. By Don Hopkins, Ground Up Software, May 15, 2018. Take a Look and Feel Free!
Steve Jobs Thought Pie Menus Sucked
“That sucks! That sucks! Wow, that’s neat! That sucks!”
On October 25, 1988, I gave Steve Jobs a demo of pie menus, NeWS, UniPress Emacs and HyperTIES at the Educom conference in Washington DC. His reaction was to jump up and down, point at the screen, and yell “That sucks! That sucks! Wow, that’s neat! That sucks!”
I tried explaining how we’d performed an experiment proving pie menus were faster than linear menus, but he insisted the liner menus in NeXT Step were the best possible menus ever.
But who was I to rain on his parade, two weeks after the first release of NeXT Step 0.8? (Up to that time, it was the most hyped piece of vaporware ever, and doubters were wearing t-shirts saying “NeVR Step”!) Even after he went back to Apple, Steve Jobs never took a bite of Apple Pie Menus, the forbidden fruit. There’s no accounting for taste!
If you can see through the lies and manipulation tactics it can work out but some people will not get out alive if they can’t adapt.
One thing I noticed was that rude language or sexual references were kind of used as a calibration technique to try to gauge people. I am sure he did this and many other little subtle tricks unconsciously as he wasn’t really that clever. Manipulating people was his talent so to speak and he seemed to enjoy to have a little puppet theater around where he could play with people as he pleased.
The reason they do this is to shake you up and monitor your reaction. I don’t think they know why they do it exactly - it’s just a button they found they can press and they happen to have a gift that enables them to parse the response and from that response extrapolate which kind of abuse they can subject you to to make you dance.
I don’t know what the approproate response to the question would be other than a straightforward dry yes or no without lifting an eyebrow, but that would probably be hard without some sort of training as the questions come out of the blue and even the smallest discomfort you might feel will be picked up by the person.