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That time I had Steve Jobs keynote at Unix Expo (cake.co)
173 points by jeffbarr 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 40 comments



I wasn't lucky enough to ever meet or work with Steve, but one thing I've seen during my time in the tech industry is that there are a lot of people who try to emulate him. Unfortunately it's a lot easier to emulate Steve's weaknesses than his strengths, so the result is that some people are just whiny entitled jerks without much else to offer.

So true and so pity.


This reminds me of superstar CEOs like Elizabeth Holmes, Jack Dorsey and especially Travis Kalanick.


Kalanick is a giant asshole, but also built an incredible company. He then proceeded to nearly destroy it out of arrogance. So did Jobs during his first stint as CEO.

Look at the heat Musk and Zuckerberg are taking these days. We would probably have a much different view of Jobs if he was in his prime in the social media era.


Kalanick built an incredible idea. His company still loses billions of dollars per year.

I've listed a ton of references, but my favorite quote is from [3] :

     The firm actually lost nearly $1.1 billion (GAAP net income) against just $2.22 billion in net revenue in the fourth quarter.
     
     It works out to a -49 percent GAAP net margin.
Also, the graphs on [5] are pretty damning.

So in my opinion, the idea is great (actually, truly freaking fantastic to me), but the company is burning through cash at an incredible (and often growing) rate.

To me, that is not the making of an incredible company.

[0] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-25/uber-lose...

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-06/uber-spen...

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/13/ubers-loss-jumped-61-percent...

[3] https://news.crunchbase.com/news/understanding-uber-loses-mo...

[4] http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/growth-vs-profits...

[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/lensherman/2017/12/14/why-cant-...


How much is going to CapEx? I thought they burnt at such a high rate because of their autonomous R&D.


An "incredible" company thanks to asshole methods. Being an asshole was a prerequisite in that case and cannot be separated.


> We would probably have a much different view of Jobs if he was in his prime in the social media era.

...which one could take to mean that a lot of these peoples' problems today are self-created (see: not knowing when to shut up)


Dorsey is successfully, simultaneously steering two of the most important public tech companies on earth. Square particularly is a booming success story as a business. Twitter, which was supposed to be doomed financially, has been delivered to sound profitability and still has $4.5 billion in cash.

Please explain to me how he fits into the category with Holmes and Kalanick.


I find it hard to put Square as one of the most important public tech companies. Sure, it might be successful, but is it important?


I'd say yes. Anything that reduces friction in commerce thereby creates more commerce. Time will tell I guess.


Square may seem less important because of Stripe. This is also a very tech-centric viewpoint, as many B&M stores use Square.


A number of B&M vendors that used to be cash-only now accept credit cards. Definitely an impact, there.


As someone who ran a business that accepted credit cards before Square (and others, I'm sure) made it a lot easier, I think it could qualify as important.


Each of them can be put in their own category and is/was very successfull in their own way. The common thing is that they are Steve Jobs imitators to the point of meaningless details like wearing same clothes as him or listening to the same music.

There are many reports about Jack Dorsey being inspired/obsessed by Steve Jobs. Running 2 companies also rings a bell.

As for Sqare, yes they are headed towards (big)? success, but they are not there yet. And from what I see they are much better at operations than inovations, which is different from what Steve Jobs was known for.


Damn. This hits so close to home. We must have all had a bad boss like that at one stage.


Did you mean "pithy"?


I'm guessing "such a pity."


I know that unflattering depictions of Steve Jobs are the big hits these days, but this one seemed more like an attempt to flatter that left me flat. He sounds incredibly annoying to work with and the people working with him have that hands-on-hips "oh, him!" attitude at some massively dickish moves. Blowing off peoples' ideas so glibly and pointing to the door imperiously to indicate they should leave? Threatening to ditch a demo and terrifying your employee? Ordering 300 custom made white italian dress shirts just so he could wear a brand new one each time?

I know he accomplished some cool stuff but geez.


Hi, I'm the author. :-) You're very right, he could be incredibly frustrating to work with. I've always thought it was strange that we have so many incredible stories about working with him, but few people tell them. Or if we do, we talk about the good things he did. I was trying to do that too because I liked him and deeply miss him, but wow could he be annoying.


Hello! I have to admit that I have yet to read the article (work firewall), but I was wondering if you knew the answer to a question I've had for a while: Did Steve Jobs know how to use a UNIX CLI shell?


I don't know it personally, but having seen his technical abilities from demo videos, he definitely is capable of using UNIX CLI, in fact I do believe he can write programs if he wanted to. He is not a genius like woz, but a person with an average tech skill like most of us regular programmers, but with an additional marketing genius.


I have no doubt he was capable of learning how. But I'm more interested in his perspective... Consider a contemporary-ish reference from Andy Hertzfeld:

"... was running a character-based text editor that I viewed with the typical pious disdain of a Macintosh purist." ( https://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?project=Macintosh&stor... )

Did Jobs share a similar bias? Did he understand why a small % of the population would want to have access to the command line (The inverse of his "mere mortals" references)? Did he take advantage of the tools provided by using a shell?


>Did he take advantage of the tools provided by using a shell?

For doing what? Filtering log files and running services? He wasn't a sysadmin (and even programmers, aside for their IDE and debugger, mostly use the shell when they wear a sysadmin hat for their own computer).

That said, the first computer Apple built was the Apple I, and II -- which only had a command line interface.


Being hard to work with may have been one of Jobs' defining qualities. The author seems to be making the point that his strengths outweighed his many shortcomings.


That buying thing extended all the way up to cars. I recall reading Steve Jobs never registered his cars. He'd simply buy one in cash from the dealer, drive on the temporary registration period, then sell the vehicle for a new one when that was up.


> Steve and I both showed up at the show in dark suits and white shirts.

I thought Steve always wear his turtleneck. Even going with investment banks. My guess is that those days it was way more formal then what we have now.

>He loved hanging out in art museums. My memory could well be off, but I remembered it as 300 new white shirts. He wanted a new one each time he dressed up.

So he doesn't do any clothes washing? Would the old one be recycled? Throw away?

Fascinating Story, I miss Steve. I miss the old Apple. Where they are relentlessly innovating. It is not that they have stopped now, but it has definitely slowed.

And I think with this story, Cake will now get lots of invitation to its site.


I have often wondered why I am not as successful as Steve, and this was particularly perplexing since I was wearing black turtlenecks almost every day.

Now it turns out that that is wrong, I should have been wearing dark suits with custom made Italian shirts! Duh!

Looking forward to the great work that is to emerge now that I have course corrected.


Feynman's cargo cult science in action.


> I thought Steve always wear his turtleneck. Even going with investment banks.

In his NeXT and early Apple return years he wore a lot of things including expensive Italian suits (the business magazine were fond of mentioning that to show his style).


If you peruse through his keynotes (https://allaboutstevejobs.com/videos/keynotes) it seems like the famed turtleneck outfit actually came fairly late in his career.


>I thought Steve always wear his turtleneck.

Steve started wearing that sometime around 2000. So like 23+ years into his career.


I believe I read at some point that he would throw them away.


This is a great "growth hack" to introduce that service Cake. The story is really good too, but what immediately caught my attention was: "what is this cake thing?". It looks good btw, did anybody else know about it?


It's co-founded by the author of the featured article. I was also impressed by it.


Damn this is great.

I used to be an Apple-guy, although I've moved away from it recently,

I wonder, if Steve was still there, would I have stayed with Apple?


Wow. Cake is good! Story is also good! EDIT: how do I get an invite?


Just click on any button on Cake (like post or follow) and you'll see a pop-up so you can put your email on the list and you'll get an invite shortly.


heck what is this WorldWideWeb ... Word with blue links


Ironically, a guy named Tim Berners-Lee at Cern had developed something he called WorldWideWeb on NeXT machines. I was trying to figure out what it was good for. It was kind of like Microsoft Word, except some sentences were blue and underlined and if you clicked on them you got a new document that came from a different computer.

Steve asked intensely the first time he saw it, “Is this cool?” I think that was his way of saying he didn’t get what it’s good for. I said I wasn’t sure.


I've heard the guys at Redmond have words with all sorts of colours!




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