Scott Forstall interviews at Apple.
During one of the many interviews onsite, Steve Jobs pulls the interviewer out of the room then eventually replaces the interviewer and begins peppering Forstall with questions. They have a connection and Jobs offers him a job on the spot (but also tells him to go through with the rest of the interviews).
Scott calls up his contact at Microsoft and turns down the offer he had from there.
The next day he gets a package at his doorstep. He opens it up and it's a huge dead fish. Forstall, thinking maybe it is a threat from Microsoft, calls up his contact and asks what the meaning of this was. His contact explains that they went down to Pike's Market, bought the largest King Salmon from there, packed it up with ice and shipped it down to him.
He ate it that night but still ended up going to Apple.
That's easily a few hundred dollars just for the salmon. Maybe over $1000 depending on the size of the salmon.
> He ate it that night but still ended up going to Apple.
No way he ate it all that night. Family friend brought us a whole king salmon from a fishing trip. Lasted a few meals. The best salmon I've ever had. Nothing like the farmed atlantic salmon you get from the supermarket.
> No way he ate it all that night.
He ate it does not necessarily imply he ate it all. I ate chili last night, but that doesn't mean I ate all the chili.
But, anyway, those weren't the actual words of Forstall in the video.
But it implies it.
> I ate chili last night, but that doesn't mean I ate all the chili.
That's a bit different isn't as you are referring to a general unquantified food ( chili ) as opposed to a quantified amount of food ( one whole salmon ). What if someone gave you a bowl of chili and you ate it. Most people would assume you ate it all. Because it's a singular item like a whole salmon. Someone game me a bag of chips and I ate it. "All" is implied. Someone gave me a hershey's bar and I ate it. Most would assume they ate it all.
Also, you are missing my point. My point is that most people don't appreciate how big salmon actually are and also how expensive they are. I didn't realize how big they got until someone gave me a whole salmon. My intention wasn't to start a petty semantic argument.
I painted it last night. (Painted a painting)
I beat it last night. (Beat a game)
I ran it last year. (Ran a marathon)
"Where's the chili?" "Oh, I ate it last night, sorry." (Ate the chili)
"Mmm, this chili is good, isn't it?" "Sure is, I had some last night." (Ate some of the chili)
"Sorry, I ate it."
"This chili is no good!"
"What's wrong with it, I ate it?"
"it" in that construction means "half my chili". Just as in "My southern, three-day-cooked chili is gone", "it" is "(their) southern, three-day-cooked chili".
"This chili is no good!"
"What's wrong with it, I ate (some of) it?"
The parenthetical is omitted but implied. Unless they're referring to the chili that is inside your digestive tract?
However, if you wanted to work on those cool projects, it meant you had to work with Forstall and he was intimidating to say the least. A mini-SJ people internally would call him. Any feature you were working on that needed SJ approval went through Forstall's monocle eye first.
On the one hand, he was one of the few leads that would remember my name and say hi to me when passing in the hall. On the other, I was scared to look him in the eye lol. I do think he held his reports to unreasonably high bars by expecting long hours of work and he seemed to find joy in seeing people squirm. It was weird.
While I personally hate skeuomorphic interfaces, I'll mostly agree with your analysis on Tim Cook. He's an amazing supply chain whiz, but he's not a product guy. The software quality at apple has also plummeted.
I don't think these count as interesting. I'm glad they exist, but they're pretty dull.
Maps is core to the iPhone, given it's a device you use out and about. Google had them under their thumb, because they were dependent on their data, and were denying them features. They couldn't wait until the data was better because that's not how it works, you need to collect data to improve data.
I don't see what they could have done differently? Even in hindsight this seems like the right call?
This whole situation sounds like people not liking to use a mediocre product, but just because the product is mediocre doesn't always mean it wasn't the right decision to release it, from both a company strategy perspective, and from a consumer benefit perspective (if you believe competition is healthy for consumers).
A startup would eventually need to start generating funds, or at least prove themselves in the market to convince investors. But Apple? They could have kept Maps in the oven for another five years if need be. Similar to how they secretly kept Intel builds of OS X in their back pocket for years.
1. Not having turn-by-turn directions on Apple Maps, arguable the single most important feature for a mapping app.
2. Share more of Apple users data with Google in order to support Google Latitude. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Latitude)
So we have two choices: Not have the single most important feature in a mapping app, or violating one of the basic tentpole features the iOS brand, user privacy. So obviously they went with the third option, launch their own mapping service despite its flaws, and I've never heard a convincing argument that that wasn't the best choice.
Still—could Apple not strike deals with other vendors? It's not as though Google was the only game in town, especially back then when TomTom was a much bigger deal. At minimum, they could have used their leverage to negotiate with various players—Apple is good at that.
Nokia in particular had a fantastic mapping app, with turn-by-turn directions that worked really well on my N9. They still sell access to this API today: https://www.here.com/
I'm really not convinced that rushing an in-house app out the door was the only possible option.
Explicit user feedback is harder to gather, but I didn't realize Apple Maps leaned so heavily on that. I've certainly never submitted anything...
I had a G4 PB and then an Intel MBP. The transition was better than expected, but certainly not without bumps. In a lot of ways, it was similar to maps in that to really finish they had to get it out the door.
> This whole situation sounds like people not liking to use a mediocre product, but just because the product is mediocre doesn't always mean it wasn't the right decision to release it, from both a company strategy perspective, and from a consumer benefit perspective
Strong disagree. A mediocre product damages the brand and a mediocre navigation service can kill people: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_by_GPS. Releasing mediocre products when a better option is available reeks of putting the company ahead of the consumer, frankly, and it's no wonder people ditched Apple Maps at the earliest opportunity.
At the time I was a Nokia Linux user, but as far as I can tell, privacy was not a selling point of iOS in 2012. The 'fundamental human right' phrasing is relatively new, and privacy isn't really mentioned at all before 2012. It feels like this was a response to where Apple was failing than a principled stand, considering 3 years prior Wayback machine shows only a 404 for the privacy page. I can see how some folks might infer from this that Apple leaned into privacy as a means of spiting a supplier.
> Google Maps was obviously still going to have an app on iOS
If I was a paying Apple customer, I'd sure appreciate having that option at launch rather than months later with no firm date. Even in 2019 my real estate agent insists that Apple Maps is garbage, I can only imagine the chaos in 2012.
I'm not sure about the "Beta" tag, it doesn't strike me as a terrible idea. But collecting refining map data is a project measured in decades, when should the Beta tag be removed?
However, Apple has certainly offered beta downloads before. Bootcamp Assistant was an optional "Beta" download before it was included with OS X in Leopard. Safari also began its life as a Beta web browser from Apple, even as there were alternatives from other companies.
Put in enough resources so that it wasn't mediocre. If it's that important to do, it's important to do well.
You can read two excellent essays by Justin O'Beirne on Google vs. Apple's methodologies for creating and organizing mapping data. It seems a straightforward conclusion that mapping is simply a problem that's a better fit for Google as a company than Apple.
Also note how slowly Apple's strategy has been rolled out (3% of the U.S.’s area in 2018), waiting for this work to be rolled out simply wasn't tenable.
Not something I could say about recent iOS. What are you thoughts on the whole Map fiasco?
Still he had stayed at Apple.
Side note, I still have fond memories of working at 2XL Games and on ESPN X-Games Snocross and it was one of the first games shown on the iPad on stage by Scott Forstall that highlighted the ability to run on iPhone and scale up to iPad . We had made the game in 9 weeks which was very fast from ATV Offroad, adding snowmobiles for the "slednecks" as they are called. The game launched and while we were working on our next game, we tuned into the keynote as all devs did in 2010, it was Jan 27, 2010, we saw our game come up on stage and no one knew it was happening. It was one of those killer moments that made the work worth it. Turns out it was largely because Steve Jobs was on the board at ABC/Disney and ESPN properties got promoted.
We later made the first game on Apple GameCenter matchup/networking in Ricky Carmichael's Motocross Matchup. The early versions of the Apple systems were actually quite solid for matchup/networking. This was before Android had Google Game Play Services so we eventually swapped it for a platform agnostic networking system but still lots of fun.
I was lucky enough to be lead game dev on both and got to help with the direction/game design as well especially on Ricky Carmichael's Motocross Matchup which is still pretty high up in racing on iOS.
Overall, I really feel iOS was a more solid/robust platform back then and trailed off after iOS 6 in terms of speed/quality, I think that has alot to do with Scott Forstall.
I think Scott Forstall was required for Steve Jobs to really make NeXT and iPhone happen. The way he was let go after the Apple Maps push, which I am sure was pushed out early, was disheartening.
I interned at Microsoft my junior year of college. Toward the end, I interviewed with Google and got a competing offer.
But during the negotiation process, the recruiters had Chris Jones (Windows Live VP at the time) call me to try talking me into joining Microsoft. He told me his story about how at the start of his career, when he was comparing offers from a few companies, Microsoft (relatively unknown at the time) sent him a salmon from Pike Place Market --- and that gesture convinced him to accept Microsoft's offer.
Two days later, a package of smoked salmon on ice from Pike Place Market showed up at my door in Tucson, AZ.
(I went to Google for non-salmon-related reasons, but sending me food
mostly became a reminder that Google was offering free food as a perk!)
It's the local Thing. Lots of places have that sort of strong geographic tie to an art or food or what-have-you; the only odd part here is that most local foods don't travel well -- but smoked salmon obviously can and does.
Vegans at most account for 3% of the population. In a corporate entity that large, it doesn’t matter if you miss a hire or not. So if a vegan was offended, I’m sure no one cared and was happy to offer the job to someone else.
If you want to make a point about how good the salmon is, invite them and treat them to the best salmon in town, instead of dumping a dead fish that nobody asked for on their doorstep.
If you are a hiring manager and you are attempting to learn someone's religious or dietary beliefs prior to hiring then then you should be sued/fired.
And yes when I've taken my candidates for lunch as part of recruiting I always ask for any dietary preferences so i can find a place that accommodates. It's just commonsense.
Keep in mind that they missed out on Forstall. It seems unlikely he would have ended up CEO, but that’s not as far fetched as the prospects for most hires.
I wonder if it has been the inspiration for Steve Jobs’ “Japanese are like dead fish washing up” quote, if Microsoft was sending dead fish left and right around California and he was sick of it.
But then again, we are talking about tech recruiting, so it’s probably not all that surprising.
Like maybe there was a card explaining it and he either threw it away without reading or left it out of the story. Maybe the parallels to The Godfather are something he thought of later.
Or maybe you're right, and whoever sent it was kinda dopey and thought a fellow Washington State person would immediately get the reference, and he didn't.
But sometimes it's important to lie a little bit to make a story better.
The people recruiting went out and really tried to be different and do something out of the box.
Because of them we have this great story, and something at least a bit dear to Scott Forstall who clearly uses hyperbole since it wasn't a 'dead fish', it was in ice which normally we would say fresh fish when not telling stories.
But stack-ranking ...
 Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJxElfc0N9E
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47bNpIbCaL8
Scott gives an incredible story about how Steve Jobs saved his life was really moving.
I'm still upset that, at 48:36, Forstall offered to give his thoughts on what we could be doing with AI that we're not, but Markoff decided to move on.
He was personable enough, but I feel that question also coloured my opinion for many years.
You are given two bags, and 10 marbles, 5 are black, 5 are white. You have to put the marbles into the two bags, and then the interviewer (I guess?) shuffles the bags and lets you pick a a bag to select a marble from. You "win" if you get a black marble (or white).
The problem is essentially: how do you distribute the ten marbles between the two bags to maximize you probability of getting a specific color.
My first answer was to point out the window behind him and say "look a zeppelin!" and he turned :D
Like all such problems the actual answer is obvious once you realize it or if you already know it.
I believe this problem is really trying to get you to formulate an abstract problem mathematically. It's not a trick question, it can be solved with math.
In this problem we can start with all 10 marbles in one bag (bag A). We have two degrees of freedom: how many black marbles to put in the other bag (bag B) (call this variable b) and how many white marbles to put in the other bag (call this variable w).
0 <= b <= 5
0 <= w <= 5
1 <= b + w <= 9 (can't have everything in one bag)
These three constraints form a hexagon.
Probability of picking black from bag A: (5-b)/(10-b-w)
Probability of picking black from bag B: b/(b+w)
Probability of picking black given probability of picking bag A = 0.5: 0.5((5-b)/(10-b-w)) + 0.5(b/(b+w))
Now we know that the problem has two symmetries, bag A vs bag B (b = w) and white vs black (b+w = 5) so our hexagonal solution space must also be symmetric with probability = 0.5 along those lines. This leaves just 6 points to evaluate: (w=0, b=1), (w=0, b=2), (w=0, b=3), (w=0, b=4), (w=1, b=2), (w=1, b=3)
Manually calculating the probability at each we find that the respective probabilities are ~ 0.722, 0.688, 0.643, 0.583, 0.547, 0.542
This means the best probability of picking a black ball is obtained when 1 black ball is moved to the other bag.
Any high level engineering job will involve some proficiency with computing expectations and solving constrained problems, for scaling or building supply chains. Programming is not necessarily a skills based trade like carpentry, some high level thinking always helps.
~50/50 -> .5x(2/5) + .5x(3/5) = .5
~0/1 -> .5x0 + .5x1 = .5
You’re better off putting one black marble into one bag and all of the rest of the marbles into the other. That way if you pick the bag with just one marble you win by default and if you pick the other bag you have a 4/9 probability of getting a black one. This gives you a total probability of 13/18 = 0.72.
If so I would put all of one color in one bag, all of other color and 2 of the first color in other bag.
Now I have two different size bags one with all one color and one with very little of that color.
If I can pick bag and color I want I pick the small bag and say I want that color.
If I can't pick bag but I can pick color when they choose bag I choose whatever color is most likely to be in bag.
If I have no choice in anything I would always have the 50% chance of whatever color was assigned to me, this makes me assume I have some choice.
on edit: obviously distribution is an example, probably smartest distribution is one in one bag, rest in other bag.
on edit2: realized I described separation of colors poorly.
There is obvious answer.
And also, if you can look at or touch the bag before picking it, then just pick the one the looks like it has only 1 vs. 9 marbles!
2) Put the white marbles in your pocket
Microsoft revolves around enterprise. Consumer stuff is just getting the users familiar with they tech.
Amazon is logistics.
Google and Facebook is Ad Tech, they don't add or polish experience if it doesn't make their ads better.
Apple has stayed true in providing excellent products for individuals, not marketing agencies or enterprise. That's what they show every update. Sure you miss an Ipod or Iphone reveal, but they are still showing new things (TouchId, card, watch, and the AirPods that everyone even non apple fans, love), and polishing old one( even listening to feedback like the keyboard stuff).
“Code Break 9.0: Events with Macklemore & Scott Forstall”
Forstall’s part (living in a tent in a park with his parents and brother, being able to afford only 2 minutes of warm shower per week):
Fish story specifically:
Guess he liked fish.
Scott must be really good at interviews! :P
I heard no sound but saw his mouth moving, thought something was wrong with my Airpods Bluetooth connection, so I kept disconnect and reconnect it lol.