One might think Steve Jobs was an arrogant, perfectionist prick. But you realize in this small story, that the whole keynote could have been torpedoed, could have gone sideways and been ridiculed, if those mechanical risers had failed. The big moment for this product that could (and did) save the company, might have been a laughable sad trombone even though Steve had warned Wayne that it was a problem that needed to be fixed.
The work of hundreds of people, and hundreds of millions of dollars, were pitted against shitty mechanical hand-cranks -- that's why small details matter, and why Steve was pissed.
Steve was coughing quite a bit throughout so he was probably not in the best mood already.
So... if Apple brings iOS games to a MacBook, does that satisfy that promise? :-)
I think you are mis-reading the situation here.
In the Q&A Wayne says:
> "A week before the event and we were still struggling to synchronize them and make the motion smooth. [...] However, Steve was on the stage watching these things not perfectly aligned with a little bit of stuttering. He wasn’t happy and we could see it in the video feed we were watching."
There is no suggestion of a risk of failure or that or that it was a problem. Steve simply wanted a perfect, smooth, synchronised motion.
> "But when you were in the audience, you couldn’t tell unless you knew what to look for."
Watch the video posted by another user and judge for yourself.
But Jobs did offer a solution that (for reasons he may not have been aware) wasn’t used (“I know the guys from Cirque du Soleil, why don’t you call them?”)
It actually reminds me of Van Halens brown M&M rider, but Steve doesn’t get to just take the money, cancel the show, and go home.
Edit: better link
There’s a story about how he went into a meeting with an iPad and a MacBook and told his people that his iPad wakes instantly and his MacBook doesn’t.
And a CRT Monitor is definitely something you don't want in a wobbly pedestal.
One should always have a good monitor stand. And that’s how the infection started.
Pro Display XDR stand US$999.
How do you know? People still remember it 20 years later.
Presentation is important, but not that important.
Windows was the default operating system for business already.
Apple's products at the time were an alternative, not the mainstream, and sold largely on the customer's desire to live a different life. Apple sells a lifestyle as much as they do a product; you've always been able to see that in their marketing. The customer visualization of themselves in that life is formed first during those keynotes - and it's easy to break with a problem like the one Jobs cared about.
Since Cook took over, Apple's really switched largely to productionizing what they already had; that makes sense, it's what he's good at. Hopefully, he's kind of a caretaker until someone visionary can take the helm again.
Just waited until Apple launches iCar and iGlasses (AR/VR headset)
Here's the deal - if you're charging a premium for a product, it has to be exceptional.
I had a friend who worked for the airlines (this was pre-9/11 days).
He would tell me stories about first class customers. One guy came to the airport and bought 2 first class tickets to france for he and his wife and paid an astronomical sum for last-minute tickets. no problem. Stuff like this happened all the time.
But he said the flip side was that you CANNOT disservice a first-class customer. If you want to see a REALLY MAD person, bump a first class customer. Their expectations are in line with the prices. high.
Actually, there are compilations of all the bloopers made during Apple keynotes. They weren't all perfect.
That’s one way to see it. In my opinion, a faulty mechanical riser in his keynote would have resulted in exactly zero less iMacs sold.
On the flip side, if it was truly so impactful, relying on the faulty shutters would have been a very irresponsible thing to do. They could have paid some humans to use a pulley system out of sight at that point.
Yes, because if he felt the same about other things ("woult it really have a serious impact if this/that") he'd have built worse or more-samey to other OEMs products.
So, it's not like you can have some precise cut-off point to stop caring, where the faulty systems in the keynote don't matter, but some other aspect of the product does.
If he ended up only caring for functionality, high impact, aspects of the products, it wouldn't be the same products.
And if the Keynotes didn't have such high production value demands, they wouldn't been as good.
It's not a binary issue (stop being too demanding and start being ok with good enough).
It's "where to put the cutoff point" in a sorite range (human caring).
Because he was worried about an important aspect of an important presentation his terrible behavior towards others is justified? C'mon, there are almost a hundred examples of him treating others like crap. Was every case justified as 'something very important at Apple will crack if I'm not all over this employee'? It that was so, then they were the worst hirers of talent in Silicon Valley.
The narcissism was the source of his drive to be the most amazing monkey in the room. If he'd been a normal human he wouldn't had the laser-like focus on creating a narrative about being the guy who made everything he touched game-changing, immaculately crafted, and insanely great.
If you happen to be a narc you may have similar motivations. But it's unlikely you also have the talent.
Which leaves a question - is it possible to be a billionaire wo makes game-changing, beautifully crafted, insanely great tech without being a narcissist?
Arguably the 60s/70s crop of tech companies came closest. CEOs like Ken Olsen had a paternal attitude and an interest in employee welfare and development. DEC were insanely great in their own pre-Internet way, so he must have been doing something right. But there was no worldwide media attention, and the market was almost exclusively fellow grad-level professionals who were more impressed by substance and less by showmanship.
As soon as you open that up and create commodified mass-market products the level of attention goes up a few orders of magnitude, and a self-absorbed rock star attitude is more effective market fit.
Non-narcs just don't care about that kind of attention, and aren't driven by a need to create it.
Which is non-narc CEOs may be millionaire successful, but don't have the unhinged drive needed to be billionaire successful. And they won't have the kinds of followers who need the reflected glow.
And that's why the top of the tech tree is full of people who have these personality issues. They're unusually effective in some very limited areas, and a cocoon of money protects them from consequences. But they're still... limited.
A real game-changing genius would be able to negotiate the attention and rock star challenge to do everything they do without paying the price of narcissism. But those people are not just vanishingly rare in general, they're actively cancelled by current corporate culture.
And this is a bad thing, because we're going to need effective but healthy management over the next few decades. And it's hard to see where that's going to come from in this culture.
Narcissist in a colloquial sense, perhaps. But narcissist in a medical sense (i.e., a set of defined cluster B personality disorder traits), no. Jobs was known for changing his position in the face of strong enough rational arguments, sometimes a couple days later. He wasn't wedded to his positions in the emotional way typical of cluster B narcissists.
I've only ever seen "narc" being used as a slang term for a government narcotics agent.
Does every case have to be justified? Perhaps without the overall "pressure" climate they wouldn't get as good results.
Almost any company exec, even one phoning it in most of the time, would be all over an employee if "something very important at the company would crack" otherwise.
But doing it for small, medium issues too (not just "company on the line" ones), helps maintain the pressure climate better than just flipping off when there's something very very serious.
That's because he was, regardless of this story.
From the article
And users are fucking sick of the shit most companies and devs have been pulling since forever and we would treat them the same were we in a position of power.
But be aware that you don't have to be a prick to make great products; that's cargo cult thinking.
And just because his company makes/made great products does not excuse his behaviour. The two are separate statements.
There’s this thing, or entity, that seemingly everyone is talking about. If I can point out even one contrary thing about it, I win. (or feel like I have)
It’s like everyone has analyzed or identified certain little nuggets of a good presentation and then sprinkled them in... versus truly and innately understanding how to deliver a cohesive performance to an audience. The most famous example of this is the way everyone started to use “we did x y and z and you’re going to love it!” which was thrown around like peanuts on a domestic flight.
Richard Feynman’s quote on cargo culting comes to mind.
There are many tactical techniques that can get you to being a good speaker. To truly transcend, you have to treat your "speech" as a one-man play, with all the associated aspects: playwriting and acting.
He's essentially acting out the story, with his voice impressions and physical movements. Pauses inserted in the right places, suspenseful narrative arcs, conversational bits with the audience, etc.
Are you Trevor Noah? Because I really don't see how anyone can defend the dude, especially compared to John Stewart
(I have no knowledge of how funny his stand-up is, but you’re arguing against a point the comment didn’t make.)
This is practically the definition of confirmation bias.
Lex Fridman: Microsoft has 50-60 thousand engineers. What does it take to lead such a large group of brilliant people?
Kevin Scott: … (snipped)... One central idea in Yuval Harari’s book Sapiens is that “storytelling” is the quintessential thing for coordinating the activities of large groups of people once you get past Dunbar’s number. I’ve really seen that, just managing engineering teams. You can brute-force things with small teams, but past that things start to fail catastrophically if you don’t have some set of shared goals. Even though this is sort of touchy feely, and technical people balk at the idea that you need to have a clear mission, it’s very important.
Lex Fridman: Stories are sort of the fabric that connects all of us, and that works for companies too.
Kevin Scott: It works for everything. If you sort of think about it, our currency is a story. Our constitution is a story. Our laws are a story. We believe very strongly in them, and thank God we do, but they’re just abstract things, they’re just words. If we don’t believe in them, they’re nothing.
Lex Fridman: In some sense, those stories are platforms.
Storytelling is also seeing a resurgence as a community activity -- if you google "live storytelling" events in your area, you'll probably find some (there are tons in Chicago) though during COVID they are all online so it doesn't matter where you are. These are essentially open-mics -- you can YouTube "The Moth" to see what they are like.
Storytelling is one of those things where you gotta learn by doing -- reading a book can only help so much. That said, there's also a book called Long Story Short (Margot Leitman), which I found helpful. (again only for the genre of personal storytelling)
If you're interested in business storytelling, I've heard that "Building a Story Brand" (Donald Miller) is a good primer.
People watch from the side lines, think it looks easy, procrastinate and start preparing the week of and the end result is a cheap imitation. Excellence in anything takes extraordinary preparation. He revved up the machine 3 months before a keynote and got an army working on it. I doubt most others do.
For those of us that do pedestrian presentations (ones that DON'T need a "producer"), I think its helpful to watch and analyze presentations from peers who are well-practiced, as well as watching those who flopped.
I like to watch AWS re:Invent and the chaos computer camp presentations because there are a lot of them, with wildly varying levels of presentation skills. It's easy to see what works and what doesn't work and that's helpful.
I've sat through so many agonizing presentations of folks trying to emulate this or that. Granted I don't blame them, they want to make a good presentation, but I'd almost rather see folks try their own style and fail then mimic others.
The biggest issue I have is the litany of different people giving different talks all with the same lead in with a story and then lead up to what they want to say. But none of it really accounts for that like 2 other people just did that too....
Elon Musk does this a lot, and I've never seen it work well. It makes me wonder whether Apple had a lot of plants / cheerleaders in their audiences. I mean if you obsess so much about all the other parts of a presentation, would you be above planting cheerleaders?
What would work better, I think, is to just do the presentation, and if you get a big round of spontaneous applause, then pause and acknowledge with a "yeah!". Definitely not the other way around, though.
The whole thing is a production, and having a good setup can radically change people's experience of it.
You may have a point re. the audience - as far as I know the teams involved in the launch would all sit in the front rows, and naturally cheer for every bit of their own work being introduced to the world.
There is something to the general strategy of insisting on excellence, and not being willing to let something go until it's just so. This can lead down idiosyncratic unproductive rabbit holes, but especially for design-based products and games it's important to maintain a culture of excellence.
Wrt to games and entertainment products, there's no metric like "reduced clicks to perform task by 1.5". So you're ideally trying to optimize for joy, or enjoyment. Since you can't really quantify it, you can at least try to substitute excellent craftsmanship as a proxy.
As a counter-example, when I was at Sago Mini, I was getting incredibly nitpicky and subjective feedback about the precise way in which to procedurally animate sheafs of wheat in a field in a game for toddlers. While the same culture of quality and branding concerns apply, this felt like a waste of time past the first few iterations.
For what it's worth, as the parent of a 5 year old who has loved Sago mini, the quality, care, and polish in the game/app and the subscription boxes has definitely shone through (I'm an iOS dev myself). Which is not to say that it was taken too far internally. Just remarking that the work you and others did there hasn't gone unnoticed, despite it being a game for toddlers.
Frankly, I'm a bit annoyed at them as they let me go just before the end of a long probationary period. They were totally happy to use me and my photogenic daughters for a Father's Day twitter post. When the project I was on hit a snag, my immediate manager overreacted and let me go, to the surprise of me and the other senior developers. Recently, during the George Floyd hand-wringing their CEO (who I think was not particularly involved in the events I've described) reached out to me on how to attract and retain diverse talent. I felt like replying "Dunno -- don't fire diverse talent for BS reasons?"
My kids still remember the awesome time they had visiting the Sago office and ask me why I don't work there any more.
Anyhoo ... that's games.
EDIT> Oh wow, 2017. I had put that away in a box. Got laid off, got dumped by brainy hot summer fling girlfriend, and got divorce papers finalized all in like a 3 month period. Good times. Not bitter.
I guess there are probably folks thing that see it on TV and decide to play the role without any authenticity, though.
I imagined that people think that they just need to copy this characteristic and they'll also be successful.
I put a lot of attention to detail myself, but I don’t imagine that this in itself is worth anything. It’s only one out of a multitude of things you need to do and be as a founder, and it’s among the easiest.
The pandemic has forced them to stop trying, and it’s been to their benefit. The new all-digital “presentations” (more like extended intro videos) are way more interesting to watch.
Worse was the intro by Jason Mamoa who the MOCO brought on as an influencer yet he literally phoned it in. The new CEO is really trying to connect to a different crowd but they don't want what the brand sells and the brand is consistently behinds it competition in features, technology, and more, and at better prices.
Care to share? Probably 90+% of readers do not have this quote memorized.
My unjustified suspicion, since there's no evidence of it being resolved afterward, is that an out-of-court settlement was reached before it went to trial, and consequently, no press coverage resulted.
I suppose, if this were true, it would qualify as a win-win - Apple doesn't have court precedent of them firing people unjustifiedly, he ends up with a bunch of the compensation he primarily claims Apple was denying him by firing him. The people who lose are anyone else who gets dubiously fired by Apple and don't have the resources to sue over it.
 - https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2014/05/21/man-behi...
Not that this necessarily makes him wrong or unethical for trying to enforce the guarantee…
>Eight months later I heard from my brother, who was still working customer support, “Steve wants you to call. He won’t call you but you should call him.” The result of that conversation led to working directly with Steve on all his most important presentations at Pixar and Apple for nearly the next two decades."
Steve Jobs' true skill was identifying great talent and leveraging them.
The damaging impact of Steve, an ongoing curse on industry, is the myriad Steve wannabes that only take the asshole part of Steve's leadership without any of his other qualities.
"So many of the people who want to be like Steve have the asshole side down. What they're missing is the genius part". Bill Gates, of all people.
Steve: “We need to do [XYZ]”
Wayne: “OK, sure, but I’ll need to be rehired.”
I think this Q&A really brings this sentiment back to the foreground. The iPad lost a side-connector, so what? who cares? It's an interesting tool that many people enjoy using, but is it really going to make a difference to anyone's life whether or not that port was there? It doesn't and it won't, which is why the decision to get rid of it was taken with just about as much thought as should've been given.
We're also building little machines which, if designed carelessly can burn someone's house down, serve up your most private details to malicious actors, spread disinformation/propaganda, and completely destroy a person's life many times over an infinite number of ways.
We're also building little machines which, if designed thoughtfully, can be reliable and helpful, enable sharing information reliably, connect with close ones, generally create good in the world.
If you watch different keynotes, you can see that he had different emotional ramps depending on whether it was a product he was totally into or not
Steve clearly hates this fucking phone.
- Questions & comments about the Wayne Goodrich panel?
- That time I had Steve Jobs keynote at Unix Expo
Any idea if he ever completed the book? I can't find anything about it. Would love to read it.
is fascinating. It has many stories you won't find in any other book about Jobs, including an unforgettable account by a guy who went to India with Jobs in search of enlightenment. They got caught in a monster storm in the Himalayan foothills and each dug a pit, burying themselves up to their shoulders to wait it out without getting struck by lightning. Frightening! I am not making this up.
Jobs banned the book from Apple Stores as soon as it was released and all mention of it seems to have vanished, for the most part.
If you have those emojis as much as I do, you add "display: none" to the CSS rules for post.footer and make them go away. So annoying.
This particular anecdote is amazing - but also speaks to Jobs’ zen-like ability to edit things down to their essentials. For the more tech-minded, this aspect of Apple products is annoying. But it’s also a huge part of their success.
That reminds me of the old story about the early days of UNIX, and the great decision to introduce a "Bugs" section to man pages.
Reportedly the developers would, when starting to capture the problems with their tools, get embarrassed and instead of documenting the bugs they'd just fix them.
Related: documenting something is a fantastic way to uncover your own knowledge gaps. As soon as I start to feel myself handwaving something away (passive voice is a dead giveaway) I know I've hit on a topic I don't really understand.
Textbook abusive relationship
If they are indeed better, then Jobs may have had a sound strategy. But if this form of masochism is not positively correlated with competence, he may have ended up with a worse team overall.
A similar discussion happened concerning toxic language towards Linux kernel contributors. Some have suggested that a "code of conduct" (i.e. speaking civilized) would lead to worse code quality, implying that the best developers are also the ones who tolerate or even desire verbal abuse. Personally I doubt this psychological condition is correlated with competence as a developer.
After all, how did Jobs get so good at his stuff when nobody abused him? The poor guy in the interview suggest it was the threats and berations which made him do his best effort. So why does this logic not apply to Jobs himself?
Smells a whole lot like Stockholm syndrome.
It seems stupid to me.
Jesus, the man clearly doesn't regret working with Steve. So there's no reason to give these weird pseudo-psychological takes any time.
Long working days, underpayment and stress were big complaints, but the thing that struck me was the correlation between complaints of excessive bullying, up to and including violence, with silver service restaurant kitchens.
There’s something wrong in that industry that wouldn’t be remotely tolerated where I work.
So while it's easy to look back at something 'toxic' it completely skirts around the fact that their own personal skill likely benefited hugely from the experience.
He and Steve seemed to have a lot in common: really high expectations of their people, firing people without really meaning it, and ultimately producing things which are technological marvels.
If it’s possible to take the good from someone’s habits and ignore the bad, this book could be an interesting read
We know from this interview with Schiller  that there was a clear price target for the first iPad, set early on at under $500, and that cutting everything superfluous was key in reaching the low price target (nearly all journalists were expecting a much higher price for an Apple tablet at the time)
“Well, if we’re going to get to a price point like that, we need to remove things aggressively.”
That said, we'll see the end of physical connectors within five years I'm sure, at which point it won't be an issue anymore.
It's convenient AF, sure but it's the type of thing that's "meh" when only a few people use it but a bigger problem when millions adopt. Like K-cups.
a more compelling argument might come from the battery degradation angle. wireless charging accelerates battery wear, leading to a battery or entire device being replaced prematurely.
But my assumption is that they will add the same magnetic charging setup to the next iPads that they have on the iPhone 12.