He was much more low-key about the 'products' at Pixar, he mostly was an enabler and negotiator for them. In Pixar's early days he invested an awful lot of his then-fortune into keeping it alive, and it was his cunning negotiation skills that kept Pixar from being swallowed by the then flailing Disney.
If you contrast his behaviour at Pixar and at Disney, I think it illustrates that he didn't consider the work at Pixar to be 'his art'. There were other people at Pixar who were leading the 'art' there and it was all in hand.
At Apple on the other hand, it's completely clear that Jobs' considered the products to be 'his art' and his conviction was such that he literally was going to drag everyone, kicking and screaming, to realise his vision. And that he did, in a world of horrible consumer electronics he would not abide, he set out and truly lead the creation of some very awesome and uncompromising products. It was his Art.
Imagine if Andy Warhol or Piccasso or any other famous artist relied on the expertise of many individuals to realise their creations. Do you think they'd be considering that all you want is your 9-5 job and your 401k and 4 weeks holiday a year. Nope, they'd be behaving in exactly the same way: aggressive and fervent conviction. Work ceases to become merely a job and you're no longer working, you're crusading.
In a world of unambitious and mediocre individuals, you have to move mountains to do great work that requires multi-disciplined collaboration. You're going to upset people along the way but that just comes with the territory.
I don't think it's fair to blame him for his behaviour. The world needs more people like him: true leaders who will stand up for their convictions, no matter what the cost.
Not long ago I became a boss and tried to be a textbook good one: paying generously, being generous in general (e.g. vacation/sick days on the honor system), being a real sweetheart, asking nicely, giving credit, supporting their initiatives, giving control… My employees were smart, capable, and hard-working, so I should trust them. So I thought.
I ended up having to fire all of them.
When they freelanced for me before I hired them, they were on the ball and contributing. Then I made the mistake of hiring them and it all went to shit. They were not contributing anything like the kind of value I paid them for, wasting my time & money, generally spoiled, ungrateful, and clearly contemptuous of me and what I asked of them, never considering my position as the person responsible for their salaries and keeping the company alive.
Somehow I accidentally led them to believe that they were "partners" in decision-making, even though they had none of the risk. Not that they acted like partners, of course. But they came away with the idea that it was "our" business, and proceeded to do jack all with it except act entitled.
And when I fired them, they were shocked. They apparently spent quite a lot of time bitching about me to other people (while not doing their jobs) but were caught completely unawares that the feeling went both ways. Shocking.
I certainly have learned a valuable lesson:
When you're a driven, exacting person, you have to either hope you will find somebody just like you (fat chance!!) -- or you have to make them. And the making of a driven, exacting person from the outside is never going to be pleasant for the one being made. (And no matter how much better it makes them, they will whine about it.)
What are the chances that the "beleaguered" employees Jobs upset would have done work half as good without a cruel taskmaster? Pretty low, based on my experience.
Me, I have to admire somebody who can keep the pressure on another person and force them to do great work. I don't have it in me.
1. It entertains us even more!
2. Half the time it turns out the problem is really with the person talking (there is a reality distortion field turned on).
This is not hard stuff.
When my partner was VERY sick and yet we had a major server problem, and he went into the office to fix it -- telling them he was on his way -- both employees expressed anger at him for kicking them out after they had left the house & were on their way. (They didn't want to catch his virus.) This is despite the fact that this server problem meant we weren't able to charge customers. The most obnoxious one bitched later about the cleanliness of the office -- apparently my sick partner left Theraflu packets lying about in the kitchen.
She also made derogatory comments about the way I wrote the copy on the site, after I clearly told her it was a matter of branding.
When I held a meeting on "how we could work together better," one of the employees had the gall to tell me "Sometimes you hover." This is the employee who failed to complete basic tasks. I told her, "If I hover, it's because I don't feel like I know what's going on. You could give me more updates." Of course, the real reason I hovered was because the work didn't get done. (And trust me, I didn't start off hovering -- I don't have the time and energy to waste on it, that's why I fired them.) I probably should have just reamed her out right then -- maybe that would have clarified things. But I don't think I should have to tell somebody something so obvious.
Naturally, when I would walk around our teeny tiny office, every time I went over to this employee's desk, she'd have Facebook up.
The few times the employees did come up with an idea, I praised them and told them to make it happen. We'd sit and make plans, I'd outline what I wanted to see, and when I wanted to see it, but "somehow" they never kept it up.
I'm sure I'm not the ideal boss. Obviously I spoiled them and led them to believe they were more important & more critical than they were. Nevertheless, I never yelled, never criticized in public, never did any number of "bad boss" things that might have actually gotten me what I wanted. I tried to accommodate them and be gentle. Instead, I had to fire them. Sad.
The true costs of these peoples' behavior is never on themselves.
The people of Apple could have quit. Many of them did. I suspect that the ones who remained felt the trade-off was acceptable. And Jobs didn't use his power to pursue people and inflict pain on them, so his dictatorial process had very clear limits.
When you're trying to realize a vision, compromise ruins everything. That said, not all visions deserve to be realized, and sometimes compromise avoids a lot of hurt. Jobs's hurt was not especially severe, and his vision was astonishing, so in his specific case I think it was justified; that ruling doesn't extend to everybody else who wants to push relentlessly towards a goal, because many goals are horrible and many pushes are just as bad.
Then who should we blame?
He didn't "kill" them. He hurt their feelings.
Weigh a few bruised egos versus hundreds of millions of people with delightful, time-saving devices. As the book points out, yes, there is a real and measurable cost to wasting people's time with a badly designed device. And there is a benefit to delighting people.
I see a lot of people fixated on the, let's face it, pretty mundane human costs, unable to see what he actually accomplished. I don't want these people to be leaders, and in my opinion we are in a worse position when these people become leaders. They harm the rest of us because they cannot overcome their fixation on a few pitiable people to see the larger picture.
The problem I have is that these attitudes are fragile. If you have a monarch, for example, with complete control over a country and who has tons of money and doesn't need to ask for permission, he can build a great nation of he's a good person.
When he dies and his son, who's an asshole but equally determined and powerful, takes over, now you have a bad situation.
Fortunately Steve Jobs wasn't in such control. But the point is that, yeah, if someone that determined and set in their ways and they're right...awesome!
But when people are like that and they're wrong, which happens a lot...god damn it's not good.
So I guess the question is whether this sort of "riskiness" is good? Like, when you win a horse race it's badass. The other 9 times out of 10 when you lose it sucks. Is that the human behavior we should model ourselves after? Interesting...
And keep in mind that bad people won't care about these arguments. Only good people with reasonable and healthy self-doubt will be convinced to make less of an impact, and that's the opposite of what we should want.
Specifically I wanted to contrast between populist politicians and business leaders who'd rather save face and avoid admitting to mistakes.
As someone mentioned in this post all he did was hurt people's feelings. Boo hoo!
Car crashes in the US kill 40,000 people per year , and the US has a suicide rate of 11.1 per 100,000. With a population of 300 million, that's over 300,000 suicides in the US per year. 260,000 more than car crashes. Does that surprise you? What do the media report? Car crashes!
Given the number of Foxconn employees  (over 1 million) and the average suicide rate in China (13.8 per 100,000 per year), that's potentially 138 suicides of Foxconn employees per year.
Wired did an article on the suicides, there were 11 of them , to paraphrase the article "The nets went up after the 11th jumper took their life in less than a year.".
So there were another 127 people to kill themselves to get up to the national average in that year. The whole issue was a load of FUD. I bet you own heaps of junk that was made in China in factories with worse conditions. If you live in a first world country, it's inevitable.
You my friend, in Jobs' parlance, are a bozo!
Your math is off by 10x. 11.1 per 100k * 300M/100k = 33,000 not 300,000.
The rest of your comment is still valid.
those suicides were still associated with work conditions at foxconn, regardless of whether the suicide is higher in the general population.
That means, conservatively, that people who work at Foxconn are 7x LESS likely to commit suicide than in the general population.
11x LESS likely if you don't do intellectually dishonest things as counting attempts as successful suicides.
People also kill themselves over Tamagotchis. Suicidal people find a reason. So unless there's actually evidence of a higher-than-normal rate of suicide, the whole line of argument is a red herring.
Anyway, the reason I'm "trotting this out" is because to say all he did was hurt feelings is ignorant. He hurt feelings and perpetuated a supply chain with a lot of negative elements to it. And no, Apple is not the only company doing it. But I'm looking at some of the negative elements Steve Jobs had. Yes, he was rude to people. Also, he took part in a labor practice that I think is messed up, personally. That's all.
Like Steve Jobs, Jordan would not suffer fools gladly, would "bully" team-mates, had laser-focus etc. Had a good wingman in the form of Pippen (Tim Cook). Yet one cannot fault him for his many accomplishments. He rose to the occasion time and again (how many times have we seen him take the buzzer-beater?), and had an admirable work ethic.
As the saying goes "haters gonna hate". The fact is that Jordan, Steve Jobs, and many other people changed their respective industries and beyond. Jordan not only changed professional sports, but also sports management and sports equipment marketing. Steve Jobs' achievements probably need no introduction.
Yes, your egotistical ways might lead you to win in your field but don't expect the people you ran over to all of the sudden see the light and respect you as a person. You can respect a persons accomplishments while also despising who they are as a human being.
About a person's qualities as a human being: I feel there isn't much need to pass judgment on others, whether they are celebrities or not. Each of us are also humans and are also prone to our own lapses of judgment, integrity etc. That's what we are. Otherwise we'd all be saints and life would be predictable and boring. :)
There was a time in the 90s where there was all this talk about being a "role model" and Barkley famously got into trouble for it. It's touching on exactly the same issues. And I agree with Barkley: that parents should be the ones bringing up their offspring, not the media,entertainers, sports/tech heroes et al.
Coming back on topic: I respect Jobs for the things he'd done, to "push the human race forward". He was a giant, and my opinion is that the world became a better place for it. You're free to disagree (refer to RMS's stance), but that doesn't mean my own opinion is any less valid, and I'm sticking with it. :)
And I also add Bill Gates to that list as well. His enemies were more competitors than personal but he has gathered a lot of bad will over the years. But he was able to place computers in a lot of homes at a reasonable price. He sacrificed a lot of good will in the tech community to accomplish that.
As far as ego is concerned, that's basketball. It is probably the most individualistic team game out there. A single player can and does win games. A great player must believe they are going to hit every shot they take so that they don't have any fear when taking that last shot. Jordan certainly recognized he wasn't perfect and used that as even more motivation:
I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is precisely why I succeed. -Michael Jordan
And finally, how Jordan is acting during the lockout is completely expected. He was once a player, then an ex-player and now that he owns 80% of the Bobcats, he is an owner.
Just be yourself. You don't really have a choice in the matter. You are you. You can only be you. If you try to graft aspects of somebody else's personality onto your own, you will find that it's a rather futile effort. You can't. Find out who you truly are, discover yourself, and then embrace yourself in the fullest sense. You can be a better you, but you can't be somebody else. If that means you don't end up a minor celebrity, c'est la vie.
Please justify the above statement. How could you possibly know that? What is to say that these people would not have gone to achieve even greater heights if it had not been for their bad qualities? There is something incredibly depressing about this attitude that pretty much states that it's okay to be a complete and utter jerk if you have achieved some level of success. Maybe it's cool to say that because it's counter-cultural thing or maybe we as a society have reached a state where people have a knee jerk tendency to apotheosize those who are successful and explain away their flaws as somehow critical to their success (also read the Mark Pincus stuff to further observe this phenomenon). Either way it's depressing.
Then again, maybe not. Petulance isn't the worst thing a person can be. If that's the character flaw somebody clings to in their old age, they're probably not entirely bad. Screwing over Woz was much worse, but he was in his twenties, and twentysomethings barely count as human beings. (I say this as a twentysomething myself.)
Please provide an example of a single billionare or minor celebrity who isn't an asshole. The fact that you can't is evidence enough.
> There is something incredibly depressing about this attitude
What is really depressing is that you feel your life isn't worthwhile unless you are incredibly "successful" and you define success as being filthy rich or being a minor celebrity or really a clone of Steve Jobs/Bill Gates/Larry Ellison/etc. I know myself. I know that I don't have the qualities necessary to be that and knowing that has relieved me of any desire to have that.
More than that, that single realization has allowed me to focus on the qualities I do possess! It has allowed me to become a more supportive leader. My team will never make the next google.com or iphone. That's ok. Instead, they'll have families and they'll spend time with them. They'll do amazing work! Just not on a scale that will earn me billions. That's fine by me!
What about Warren Buffett?
It is very easy to trash another person. As an example, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Buffett#Personal_life and see the wonderful letter he penned his grandchild.
That's not the point.
The point is that all of my experience tells me that you really have to be an asshole and stand on the backs of others to get that far. Nobody is born nor becomes such a savant that people shower you with billions of dollars. You have to be smart, devious, aggressive, and abrasive. That just isn't me. It's not you either. That's OK.
I don't know which Kindle the author is talking about, but it seems weird to me, I never heard of a Kindle crash and I have 4/5 around, not counting colleagues'.
And, maybe it is off-topic, but maybe it is not. Why would the author add this parenthesis if it was not a necessary adjunction to his point? Maybe it was a way to underline how non-Apple products have the bad habit of crashing randomly just for the purpose of annoying their owners?
It is the same with "I’ve yet to encounter a businesswoman, on any level, who treats people in an unpleasant way". This is a way to say, "I am a very gentle guy, I don't want to discriminate against women, love me please", but this apparently innocent statement is 1) pure and simple sexism 2) plain wrong.
Then the main point, Job being a "detestable human being", well, it seems obvious. Let's just hope no too many people idealize him for too long a time.
No idea what the author was referring too. Maybe the new Kindle Fire?
As opposed to my iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and iPad2, all of which I've taken down rather horribly with just the normal apps (typically frozen, sometimes insta-reboot), not even counting things that bad programs _I_ wrote were doing.
I've just been too lazy to change the cover, and it's not been overly inconvenient yet. Amazon, to their credit, offers a refund. Perhaps this blogger is using a non-lit cover and is unaware of the issues with it?
It's a Kindle Keyboard. I just found it ironic that a competing product to the iPad was crashing when reading the biography of the person responsible for the iPad. That's all.
I think mine has an issue with the battery level sensor, and that it was actually very low on power. I do not have any cover for it.
In terms of my businesswoman comment, it is based on my experience, as is very clear, and accordingly is neither 'wrong' nor 'sexist'. Your experiences may differ.
Businesswomen: if your experience doesn't involve hundreds of women of power, it is incomplete and you must get the experience of others in the game, eg read books.
I also hate to admit this: But I half suspect Jobs picked out Isaacson because he'd draw a cartoon sketch instead of doing a serious biography. I'm still not done reading the book yet, but I almost feel that I know less about Jobs than before I started reading the damn thing. And the other thing that drives up the wall is that you get the feeling that Isaacson doesn't have a clue about technology -- so you half wonder how much he missed. And I suspect Jobs wanted it that way -- instead of burning his papers he just picked a lightweight.
By the way if any of you want to read an amazing biographer look at the work of Robert Caro who is a real writer. His first book "the Power Broker" is an amazing study Robert Moses who is a very flawed hero who really made NYC what it was (for both better and worse). He's also written several books on LBJ who also starts out as a progressive and does both amazing and terrible things in his life. I wish someone like that had done this bio...
Also, the harsh reality is that neither of us knows if your assumption about the state of the harsh reality is valid.
From Malcolm Gladwell's "The real genius of Steve Jobs" :
Jobs, we learn, was a bully. "He had the uncanny capacity to know exactly what your weak point is, know what will make you feel small, to make you cringe". Jobs gets his girlfriend pregnant, and then denies that the child is his. He parks in handicapped spaces. He screams at subordinates. He cries like a small child when he does not get his way. He sits in a restaurant and sends his food back three times. He arrives at his hotel suite in New York for press interviews and decides, at 10 pm ... the flowers are all wrong: he wanted calla lilies. When his public-relations assistant returns, at midnight, with the right flowers, he tells her that her suit is "disgusting". Machines and robots were painted and repainted as he compulsively revised his color scheme, Isaacson writes, of the factory Jobs built, after founding NeXT, in the late nineteen-eighties. He insisted that the machinery on the 165-foot assembly line be configured to move the circuit boards from right to left as they got built, so that the process would look better to visitors who watched from the viewing gallery. ...when Jobs returns, in the late nineteen-nineties, and our natural expectation is that Jobs will emerge wiser and gentler from his tumultuous journey. He never does. In the hospital at the end of his life, he runs through sixty-seven nurses before he finds three he likes...
...Even within Apple, Jobs was known for taking credit for other's ideas. Jonathan Ive, the designer behind the iMac, the iPod, and the iPhone, tells Isaacson, "He will go through a process of looking at my ideas and say, 'That's no good. That's not very good. I like that one.' And later I will be sitting in the audience and he will be talking about it as if it was his idea."
If Jobs was really such an A-level asshole, I think he was goddamned lucky to have Steve Woz as his co-founder. From what I know about Woz, in addition to being a first rate engineer, he is also a very good guy. Maybe if Woz was even half (milli-Jobs?) the asshole that Jobs seems to be, he would have kicked him out before Apple went public (à la Saverin in The Social Network) and Jobs would have been just another tantrum throwing hippie hanging around some starbucks in Berkeley or wherever it is angry hippies like to hang about these days.
And woz would have been just another engineer working for some company.
I don't get this attitude. Woz was just as goddamned lucky to have SJ as a business partner. From all accounts I've read, Woz was perfectly happy working/hacking around for whatever large company was good to work for at that time. It took SJ to see how much talent Woz had and then leverage that into a giant business success for both of them. Woz wasn't a salesman, business guy, or even a product guy. He was a hacker through and through. To make it big Woz needed someone like SJ as much as SJ needed a Woz.
They needed each other, that's why they split the company 50/50.
When you have high standards, a lot of people are going to call you an asshole. When you produce fantastic products that are hugely successful, you'll get scores and scores of stories on hacker news from jealous people who want to tear you down.
But anyone who looks at the facts will see the truth.
(Nice attempt at a clever title, but it misses the intended meaning of "think different" which is not "think differently" but more along the lines of "think bigger", as in "think of something different".)
because i don't. i think there's quite a difference. everyone can be an arsehole sometimes, sure. but that doesn't excuse those that are consistently unpleasant. there's a clear difference. so you can distance yourself from the latter without having any problems with the former.
Sounds like full-on Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Various people who knew Steve have also said that he must have had this.
As far as I can see, it's probably true.
I don't think it's right to attribute malice to the man if it's the case. Neither is it right to insist that someone be prevented from being successful in business because they have something wrong with their brain.
And/Or some OCD and some kind of autistic spectrum disorder, combined with early success which probably encouraged or reinforced some things that a regular person would have to learn to avoid doing.
Case in point: his Stanford commencement speech.
Most brilliant people are hard to work with -- look at Edison, or hell, Mother Theresa. She was famously horrible and designed a system that actually created suffering.
Jobs hurt a few people's feelings because he screamed at them. And yet he obviously thought deeply about love and life, and cared for his family and close friends.
Boo fucking hoo.
if you aren't an asshole, at least a little bit, it's difficult to manage a company successfully. you'd be seen as weak and/or other sharks would eat you anyway.
We possess fragile egos and staggering amounts of pride. Consequently, we take great offense if even the simplest of statements are misworded (regardless of intention). Consider the difference between, "Give me the salt", and "Hey, would you mind passing me the salt? Thanks." We constantly pollute our speech by adding phrases whose only purpose is to prevent offense. And anyone who doesn't is an asshole. An arrogant jerk.
You've heard the advice, common in books on communication or leadership, that the best way to persuade another is to avoid harming his ego. Allow that person to save face at whatever cost. Lie if you have to. Suggest that your idea is really his idea, and that it's brilliant.
Is this type of manipulation (and let's be honest -- this is manipulation) really so much better than blunt honesty? It's more effective, to be sure. If you don't already command the respect of a deity, you have to play this game. But for a Gates or a Jobs, is bluntness really such a travesty? Is it really the end of the world because Steve Jobs told you that your shitty design was shitty?
Especially if you then went on to make a truly great design.
It doesn't happen.
I ended up great friends with someone who created a body of work I hold dear. He isn't perfect. His faults make the relationship between who he is as a person, as an artist and the body of work he's created complex. But that fissure between the creator and the created is what makes the work that much better.
Jobs seemed to be similar.
The art of creation is a messy thing indeed.
As far as I can tell, Jobs is guilty of three major sins in the book:
1) He screwed Woz on the Breakout deal. (Well-documented.) He did not screw Woz on the Apple IPO, however, and made him a very rich man.
2) He behaved abominably to his daughter Lisa's mother, but tried to make up for it later. Lisa's mother comes across as a dissolute user (e.g. she cons Lisa into signing over a house Jobs had given her to live in but bought in Lisa's name, and then sells it to go traveling with her guru). We don't know if Jobs had reasons for what he did, but Lisa chose to live with him.
3) He screwed Kottke out of equity in Apple during the IPO, deciding that his contribution was insufficient. This seems pretty unfair based on what we learn (which isn't much) in the book.
That's it, as far as I can recall. There's probably a few minor things, but those are the ones that stuck with me. Aside from that there's a lot of screaming, shouting, and whining, but it's basically pretty much a story of an incredibly dedicated guy trying to make great products and not really caring about money.
(How is Jobs supposed to have used Ives? By making him rich and giving him a huge amount of power?)
If you wrote the life story of pretty much any businessman, I think you'd be unlikely to find fewer immoral acts.
He also did some really mean things to some of his friends early on, but -- at least in most cases -- he owns up to them and tried to make amends. This is not like, say, Bill Gates who pretty much screwed everyone he did business with at some point and rationalizes it all away. But hey, he's curing malaria now so all is forgiven. (Bill Gates also comes across as an asshole, not to mention unhygienic and smelly, in various biographies.)
If a product is well-engineered I can respect the narrow aspect of the engineer's brilliance, which is enough. The rest is silly to waste time on.
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
I am convinced that this book is Jobs' attempt to counter worries that Apple is in trouble without him at the helm. Given that he was a perfectionist, that he would both commission, support and supposedly proof a work that paints him in the light that it does, there must be a motive to the caricature it paints.
Think about it. Everyone is worried about the staying power of Apple without him at the helm. He is the quintessential micro-manager, so the concerns are valid. He was also a very private person that, despite some oft-reported claims, held a demi-god like status in the company and with a lot of people around the globe.
The book repeatedly (oh god, the repetition) remarks on his intent on "creating a legacy", "making a dent in the universe", "working only with the best" which speaks directly to Apple's future without him.
Isaacson even doles out micro-biographies on Cook and Ive. Two entire chapters!
It then completely obliterates his demi-god status by painting him as a petulant child, terrible father (early on), liar and narcissist. I cannot imagine anyone reading the book and idolizing Jobs afterwards. It makes him very, very human which is an ideal image to paint if you are/were worried about Apple's future.
I am more interested in the biography on Jobs that will be written in 10-20 years from now.
There's a line between mean and immoral, and Steve stayed on the better side of that line a lot more than a lot of other people who get idolized with far less question. I'm not even talking about people who are unfairly idolized, like Edison or Mother Theresa or the Dalai Lama. I'm talking about people like JFK or Martin Luther King or Winston Churchill, genuinely heroic figures who cheated on their wives or killed innocent people.
My point was more about why Jobs allowed the book to portray him like that. I have a hard time believing that there is no motivation behind it.
At least that's what I see in so many stories in that book.
(reference -> "Enron: Smartest Men in the Room")
As a result, Apple was one of the few companies that self-improved with each flaw in its products. Self-improvement is hard, and it takes a lot of discipline. Jobs' screaming and shouting may have not been the best way to achieve the goal, but it worked. And until we have proof by counter-example, it may be the most efficient way to achieve the greater good.
Think about your own teachers or coaches. For me, the ones I remember most are not the one who always told me "good job". It's the teachers who fought my flaws, pushed my limits. In many cases, that involved tedious exercises, boring discipline, "coldness" or shouting. I have yet to see a good sports coach who is always smiling on the field and drives the team with "good job" during the match.
To me, Jobs is the best illustration of "There's a difference between knowing the way and walking the way." Jobs knew the way, and made others walk it.
Recognizing that I say this from a white, cis-gendered, born to highly intelligent (if not at all successful) parents perspective, I don't think that comments like that are appropriate. First, it continues to perpetuate the mindset that women and men should be approached due to their gender, not their being. Second, to counter the anecdote, I have met such people.
Using only male-gendered pronouns and nouns would (as regrettable as this is) probably have gone unnoticed by me. That sentence put my conception of the author squarely into the most nefarious category of misogynists: those who try to better their own image while still perpetuating the problem.
And he did not say "negative businesswomen do not exist". He said he's never personally encountered any.
This seems as asinine as refusing to buy a Volkswagen because VW was founded by Nazis.
The problems this guy has with Apple are things still going on now.
Your comparison is equivalent with "one time long ago cotton was picked by slaves so I won't wear cotton".
That is irrational as its not happening right now. But the horrible apple conditions are alive and well.
Every problem the author notes in this article is specifically with Steve Jobs' behavior, not Apple's. I'm commenting on what was in the submitted article.
However, you reiterated my point beautifully with your cotton anecdote. I'm not sure why you needed to repeat the sentiment but, yes, it's similarly irrational.
Hopefully all entreprenuers will try to emulate his focus on product and his refusal to accept anything other than the best work that the company can do.
There are certainly some detestable people on this earth, I wouldn't put Steve Jobs in that category even if I didn't agree with his treatment of others. There are much worse people out there, he simply had many faults.
I think its good you don't want to be like Steve Jobs, be yourself. If you hold yourself to a high standard of morality, even better. But don't judge someone completely based off this book, its hard to know what someone felt or thought unless you walked in there shoes.
Also, never buying another Apple product is a little short sighted. Jobs, while a great visionary, is hardly everything Apple. There are many many talented, hard working, brilliantly creative people that helped Apple become what it is today. I think it is human nature to want to point to a leader, a genius, "the man". The reality is that these products were created from the collective genius of many, not one person.
Anyways, my two cents.
On the other hand, there are plenty of people who worked for him for decades, and people who worked for him, left, and then returned.
I suspect part of it was learning how to deal with Jobs and his tantrums, part of it was being talented enough to spend more time as a 'hero' than an 'asshole', part of it was feeling that Jobs was trying to achieve something significant and thus the expected effort was worthwhile, and part of it was finding ways to stay out of Jobs' sight when necessary.
Colombus wanted to profit owning a big part of what he "discovered"(including the people).
Most of the founding fathers of America had slaves on their properties and also killed people.
America's pioneers killed native Indians, stole everything they owned and eradicated Buffaloes, dried rivers, cut ancient forest, contaminated the water for profit.
The best generals on the WWs killed people, cheated on their wifes, drank a lot, let their people to beat and rape their enemies...
And here we are discussing that some guy was not perfect. Of course not, learn and focus what you can about the positive and try to incorporate in in your life, if you can.
In numerous passages, Isaacson will quote Jobs saying something perfectly truthful, and then follow it up with a claim that Jobs is lying. Most of the time, he doesn't provide any evidence that Jobs is lying, just the assertion, because, as Isaacson is careful to tell us many times in the book, Jobs is famous for his "reality distortion field". I guess this means that Isaacson doesn't have to back up his assertions, and of course Steve Jobs isn't around to defend himself.
One example of this is Jobs talking about how NeXT's software gave the Mac new life. Isaacson says this is a lie, and then goes on to quote Bill Gates who says none of the NeXT code made it into OS X. Now, this is an obvious and bald faced lie on Gates' part, but Isaacson doesn't know any better. He's decided that Jobs is a liar, and therefore , whenever someone says anything that disagrees, it must be evidence that Jobs was lying.
Reality is, OS X is NeXTSTEP with the Mac UI put on top of it, and at this point another 10 years of evolution. Gates was lying for whatever reasons Gates lies (and gates really is pathological in this regard).
Another example is how he treats the statements of Alvy Ray Smith. One of the really nice things about the PBS show on Jobs a few weeks ago was getting to see Alvy. He's clearly disgruntled. And this makes sense, given the extreme difficulties Pixar had in the early years before they were able to start doing features. As a result, as the company kept needing money, and since they couldn't' get outside Capital, they kept using Jobs' capital, and other founders would get diluted as Jobs would buy more and more shares by putting more and more money into it to keep it afloat. In Isaacson's book, however, this isn't really explained, and it comes off as if Jobs was ripping off the others. Isaacson takes Alvy at face value.... but doesn't seem to ask Catmull or others about it.
This makes Isaacson a sucker for anyone who has any "dirt" on Jobs, and he clearly didn't ask Steve about many of these claims (or if he did, he didn't put Steve's response in the book.)
The book is an excellent piece of propaganda. It pretends to glorify someone who it is obvious the public recognizes as a major positive impact on society, while subtly and at every turn, engaging in character assassination.
For the past 30 years, I've seen constant repetition of lies about Apple. I'm not really surprised to see Isaacson do a hatchet job-- as every other book about Jobs has been one as well. His is a little more classy, but a hatchet job none the less.
If you think you've got nothing to learn form Steve Jobs, or that he was a bad guy, well, that reflects a lot more on you than on him.
It's sad that, now that he's died, it seems the haters-- all of whom seem to be completely ignorant about the history of Apple and constantly repeating the same mindless party line-- feel that they are free to keep posting these bullshit stories and voting them up.
Its time to stop. I know you kids think its cool to bash Steve Jobs because "android android derp derp derp!" but this is Hacker News. This is the site for technology enthusiasts who want to do Startups. If you don't respect Steve Jobs for taking a garage startup all the way to being larger than Exxon Mobile in 30 years, by doing a small number of products exceedingly well, I don't think you should be hanging out here.
 I've had Apple products for 25+ years. I've been following the company for that long and have met a fair number of their executives over the years and a lot of Apple employees. I'm extremely well versed in all things Apple, to the point that I caught many innocent errors in the book. There are things I don't know about, of course, such as current plans, and things Jobs said that were private. But when I say "something perfectly truthful", I mean, the statement is something I know to be a fact from an independant source (not Steve Jobs) and it is at least a fair statement of the facts (leaving room for some of the statements being opinions. On at least one occasion, Isaacson calls an opinion a lie.)
When I buy something, I own it, period. I should be able to reverse engineer anything on the market, because I obtained the copy.
I don't give a damn about how much Apple have in its bank. Google is fucking rich too. But, if Apple win the mobile war, we are screwed as far as freedom and ownership is concerned.
I very much respect Steve Job for his ability to build a company and innovate, but it doesn't mean that he get to choose the models that damage our freedom in the long run.
I don't really care about how inferior Android is to the Iphone. I use it, and if necessary, I can extend it without permission from Google.
We are hackers. What is it that we do? We hack things and make it better. Apple doesn't want us to modify the phone that we own and make it better. Excuse me?
Does it not concern you that Apple exhibit control freak behaviors regarding iphone? What if it dominate the market and crush all competitors? This is the kind of level that you don't even see in microsoft regarding window operating system.
If android dominate and crush iphone and apple tomorrow, that is fine with me. Somebody can alway polish their own android version and make it like the magical apple products that I hear so much about.
Steve Job was not a hacker.
Speaking very broadly, Apple aren't hackers, they're artists. Michaelangelo's intention wasn't to let the Pope knock himself out altering the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
And if you really do want to alter an iPhone--well, you can. It's not designed to be easy, but there's no real legal or physical barrier to you doing so. To most cell phone users, Android's openness doesn't mean they have freedom to change the software on their phones--their carriers lock it down for them. It only means that they get a shittier phone, thanks to those very same carriers and their ability to bundle crapware.
I hate the 'apple makes most of the profits' line that gets talked about all the time (even though true), but if what you say is really so easy then why hasn't someone or some company done it?
Things is, it's not easy. This is where techies (myself included) often miss there is something beyond a feature list. How those features are combined into a package becomes more like art than another math problem to solve. And like art, it is very hard to create, but easy to notice when it is done right. From what I have seen to date, Apple gets the art part right much more often than the Android phones.
But yes, manufactured consumer gadgets can have artistic qualities.
Well, this means there is no discussion possible about art.
This is a kind of relativism. Other kind of relativism include moral relativism ("What is good or bad changes with person to person"), and cognitive relativism ("Truth changes with person to person").
Sorry to tell you this, but relativism is sometime dangerous (eg. one could say that, for some people, it is considered "good" to rape old ladies), and often just wrong (you'd have hard time to find someone who would honestly declare that Bach's music or Chinese landscape paintings is really not art).
Apple's products have many impressing qualities, they are beautifully designed, engage their owners a lot, etc. Art do not need to come into the picture.
Someone might consider it good to rape old ladies, and that is their honest belief, doesn't mean I can't call them out on it and try to make them 'believe' otherwise.
I never said that Bach's music isn't art, I just said that Apple's products can be viewed to be art just as much as a painting can be. You can argue if it is as pure, and what value it has in the artistic world but you can't argue if it is or isn't art. Art's way too vague for that kind of stuff.
In my mind, technology is a very powerful side-effect of art, and therefore it can be viewed as art just as much as a painting it.
My other point I was making is that if someone doesn't wish to discuss their values of art, than you've already lost the discussion because anything you say will be taken with a grain of salt. 99% of the discussions that go on in the world aren't of this case, but sometimes they are and I was just saying that we have to be mindful of those cases.
The latest open source version of Android was released in December 2010.
Many Android phones cannot be rooted without exploits.
There is continual activity on the Android source tree with updates for most versions of the platform well after December last year. The well publicised exclusion is Honeycomb and we can only speculate why Google kept that one to themselves (incomplete/Kindle Fire depending on your Android hate level).
Even if you insist that Android is not open in the most complete sense, you have to agree it is MORE open than iOS which makes it more appealing to some people.
Android is certainly more open than iOS in many aspects, yet that openness does not always lead to freedom for its users.
Of course, these same users would also be able to jailbreak an iPhone, but does that lock you out of the Apple loop (i.e. App store, Siri, iCloud)? I honestly don't know so that is not a rhetorical question.
Bringing this in a full circle and back to topic, I'm sure Steve Jobs pushy attitude is one of the reasons (perhaps the only reason) iPhone's aren't tainted with carrier garbage and upgrade(less) shenanigans. Just because it worked for him doesn't mean it will work for you.
There was barely an indie developer scene for mobile before the iphone.
This is also the reason most efforts on "artist apps" are for iOS. Fragmentation hurts!
Sentences like this are why the phrase "mobile war" should be taken away from all of us and placed on the high shelf next to the cookie jar. "Mobile war" is an exciting idea – much more exciting than "competitive mobile marketplace" – and so we like to think in these terms despite how misleading they are.
There is no mobile war. Apple is not out to extinguish Android. Google's not out to extinguish the iPhone. We're talking about a market of how many people, half a billion?, a billion?, billions?, and that many people means that everybody's going to want something different.
Me? I love my iPhone 4. I'm not a code hacker, see. My iPhone is the tool I use to hack the world around me. It gives me a camera (photo/HD video) that I can whip out at any moment. It lets me access my bank on the fly. It's got all the cutting-edge casual games I'm researching as part of my study on games. It lets me write on the fly (poetry, thoughts, essays) and have my writing waiting on my computer when I get back. It's an ambient music generator and a PDF reader that plays public radio and Pandora and, with the new GarageBand, is also my ideal recording device, since I prefer convenience of location to anything else. Now I can put a microphone in a backpack and walk to a park with some friends and record tracks with incredible ease. That, to me, is a hack.
I'm pretty much a huge Apple fan, but I understand people who aren't. Which is why I find lines like
> If android dominate and crush iphone and apple tomorrow, that is fine with me. Somebody can alway polish their own android version and make it like the magical apple products that I hear so much about.
disquieting. You have your Android phone! Why must you wish misfortune on my choice? I know far more Android fans who wish for Apple's demise than I know Apple fans who want Google to go under. Choice is good! And part of that choice is choosing what the focus of your "hacks" are. For me it's not computers, so I can benefit from a closed computer. For you it is computers, and we have open source.
The other disquieting thing about your comment, to me, is that you think Apple's "magic" is simply a matter of polish. As if you just wipe it with a rag for a few months and suddenly it gleams. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of UI/UX design. Achieving the level of elegance that Apple products frequently (not always) possess requires tremendous focus and talent. What's more, Apple's product polish doesn't just extend to their own software: they have a great history of encouraging top-notch developers to design for them. My favorite applications aren't Apple's apps; things like Notational Velocity, Coda, Sparrow, and Reeder have all made my life significantly simpler, and it's no coincidence that they were all designed by Mac-users for a Mac environment. Which is why even though Microsoft's new mobile OS is itself elegant and beautiful, I still much prefer the iPhone to Windows. It's where all the apps are. Not because Apple was the first to launch an App Store (though that helps), but because Apple encourages the perfectionism and user focus that makes its top applications great.
We can argue the semantics of what counts as hacker within your personal taxonomy all day, but that's useless. Jobs did great things that benefitted a lot of people, myself included.
The choices we have will at some point stop being choices. They will stop to exists and whatever platform wins, get to dictate what rules are we going to play by.
The other disquieting thing about your comment, to me, is that you think Apple's "magic" is simply a matter of polish. As if you just wipe it with a rag for a few months and suddenly it gleams. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of UI/UX design. Achieving the level of elegance that Apple products frequently (not always) possess requires tremendous focus and talent.
It doesn't mean that you have to dictate, control, censor what apps are allowed in your store, make developers sell their soul to you, and so on. You do not have to be a control freak.
If you believe the history of the mobile phone is like the history of the desktop, then you're a poor student of history. At the very least, saying that the two are the same is far enough from a given that evidence of that situation should be provided.
Also, tip for arguing - the hyperbole of phrases like "make developers sell your soul to you" makes your argument hard to take seriously.
Because people like this are hypocrites… they want to take your choice away, and scream and fight and claw madly if they don't get their choice.
Mentally, these people are still children. They look at everything (e.g. alll of business) as it if it is a zero-sum game. They take everything personally.
It's hard not to be offended when you think a phone OS is tied intimately to who you are. Sad, but true.
The point was that it is short-sighted of someone to say it would be evil if (say) Apple won the mobile war, but would be good if Google won the mobile war. Competition is a win-win situation for consumers, and a lack of competition only encourages stagnancy, which is one of the greatest evils of the creative world.
No one is forcing anyone to buy any phone. If you want to invent your own smart phone then you are free to do so.
Microsoft had 'won' and we all lost our freedom to use software that doesn't suck.
Luckily, this was a temporary state. I promise you, if Apple 'wins' the mobile war, their victory will not affect you for long.
Further more, if Android 'wins', we're much more screwed. I've already lived in a world of feature phones controlled by the carriers. I did not like it one bit and I had far less freedom than I do now with my iPhone.
None of us should feel entitled to be able to hack and reverse engineer anything! If a cdeveloper or company is nice enough to open source something then that's awesome! If you don't like proprietary software then don't buy it. If you want to hack something, make it from scratch or find an open source base for it.
If I run a software company and I'm making something folks really enjoy and get a lot of use from then I'm entitled to charge for it! They're paying me because I did the hard work to develop a tool they find useful and don't have the time, energy, and often times skill to make themselves. If I let anyone reverse engineer it and see the source then someone like you will go ahead and clone it and now my product is worthless. If I lock my customers into a particular toolset and software environment, the reason is twofold. I want to make some money! And that lock in provides a better experience for my customers. I'm not hiding it and no one is forced to buy my products. But they do because it's the best option for their needs.
Open source is great, free software is almost like a cult. What's so bad about making a profit? Why should programmers give away source free but CocaCola is free to keep their secret recipe?do programmers lack the need for food, shelter, and the money to acquire those things?
And the only war in mobile is between companies. There's also this silly war of ideas between the "open" Android platform and iOS. But the real winner is the consumer. There will always be competition. iOS cannot get 100% market share. So consumers have a choice. If the current choices don't suit certain people who want more "freedom" then you're free to start your own mobile platform and build a business around it. And when that happens I wonder if your current attitude toward wanting everything free will still hold. The only freedom afforded by the FOSS movement is the freedom to work your ass off on a piece of software and subsequently starve for lack of income. The FOSS belief that ALL software should free and open source makes it an extremist view. There is a place for both free and proprietary technology in our world. Most of us have to eat and we don't own a farm to grow our own.
I'm reminded of the naive thinking of a teenager whenever I hear rhetoric like this. This ain't no hippie commune.
Yes we should be.
> I'm reminded of the naive thinking of a teenager whenever I hear rhetoric like this. This ain't no hippie commune.
This isn't a get rich quick commune either.
Alternative viewpoints can and do exist on a community this large, neither you nor the OP speak for all of us.
That's the thing. I wasn't against profit at all. We all know that Google is doing android to protecting its bottom line. That doesn't bother me in the slightest.
Isaacson, Walter (2011-10-24). Steve Jobs (pp. 365-367). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
lacking in technical knowledge, definitely; but your characterization of it is absurd.
This isn't the first book, article or interview that openly discusses Steve Jobs darker side. I haven't read the book, I'm not a Steve Jobs fan.
The book could very well be a hack job, but I doubt it. Nobody is a perfect human being. A book which follows both the amazing successes and the temperament and attitude which created them in an honest way is likely an effort to humanize Steve Jobs. I can understand why you wouldn't want your idol to be humanized. Why you don't want to read about their flaws. But at the same time, Steve Jobs was human.
I believe you are correct about Next and OS X, and I can't imagine bill gates saying 'none of the NeXT code made it into OS X'. Aren't they both still today based on the same kernel? Maybe Issacson misunderstood something, or maybe you misread it.
Either way, my point is that Steve Jobs flaws are widely known, but some of these flaws may have been responsible for his business success, some may have been detrimental to his personl successes. This we'll never know.
What we do know is that the man wasn't a god or a saint. He was a man, with character flaws just like the rest of us.
You seem to have taken it very personally, but I seem to recall the 60 Minutes piece saying that Steve didn't want to see the book, but gave his wife the responsibility of making sure it was true and fair.
It is still a hatchet job if the biographer gleefully presents false information from sources without checking the facts.
Still, it nerves me a lot that you think you know when one should hang on Hacker news. This place is full of interesting technological reads; should I stop coming here because of how I think of Steve Jobs or startups or free market in general. I don't think so.
But if we have nothing to contribute beyond ideological ax-grinding, we should just read, not comment or vote.
Steve Jobs was obsessed with his mainstream legacy, not the poorly informed opinions of a bunch of narrow-minded tech news enthusiasts. His mainstream legacy hasn't changed because of this book.
For those who want a lot of clear examples of the issues nirvana is highlighting, do yourself a favor and listen to this week's episode ("The Wrong Guy", http://5by5.tv/hypercritical), as well as the upcoming bonus episode.
Also, no, this isn't Startup News, this isn't Entrepreneur News, this is Hacker News, and I don't think you should discard what that implies about the community.
I don't agree that the labor of muscles and the labor of the mind are distinct incompatible movements. It takes a strong mind to properly control muscles. Why use labor haphazardly when thinking allows the use more effectively?
Then there is research showing that exercise improves cognitive function. To tie it back to the article at hand, SJ seemed to love his long walks.
I joined Hacker News a long time ago. I think it's shameful that people here now don't know any better -- or don't have the brains -- than to say that it doesn't matter if the book is full of bald-faced lies, because Steve Jobs was not a nice man, or because the iPhone isn't "open."
What a load of brainless boloney.
In the old HN, this post of yours would have triggered an interesting discussion about other lies found in the book, and/or stories & facts (real ones) omitted, and/or the perils of biography in general.
So, just so you know, some of us old guard are still here, appreciating what you're doing.
I'm a Jobs fanboy but I appreciated this so much. I'm not too far into the book but I do see the OP's point about Jobs acting like a spoiled brat at times and really being a misanthrope. That said, I see a lot of redeeming qualities in him as well.
The great thing a out this post was that I felt it approached the topic from a really fair and grounded perspective. I would agree that others shouldn't try to emulate Jobs because his behavior just isn't acceptable in a lot of cases. Jobs could get away with it because he was Jobs. He was just one of those people who were one of a kind. There can only be one Jobs and to emulate him would most likely doom your prospects for success. There are qualities and anecdotes that can inspire us, teach us, and that can be safely emulated in our own style but speaking to what the OP is talking about I'd agree that what he talks about are not the things to be emulating.
I'm just really impressed. It's rare to see such a grounded perspective when talking about someone like Steve Jobs. That name can really stir up a debate and cause some heated discussions and, to repeat myself, this post comes at it from a great, grounded perspective.
People having been talking a lot about how he stole all of the design credit from Ives. This might be the case, but I'm willing to bet you that Ives would be the first to admit that Jobs helped him unlock his true potential.
If SJ pushed Ives to iterate through 100s of designs, tweaked each one and then iterated again whose creative work would it be?
If SJ sat down and explained what he wanted in excruciating detail (given the stories of his attention to detail this is what I would expect), and through trial and error Ives arrived at what SJ wanted whose creative work would it be?
I think there is clearly no single creator in either case. Ives gets a lot of credit for being a great designer and being the one who helped SJ realize his computing vision. Given SJs OCD about details I don't think it was ever a case where he was playing golf, took an Ives design and just pushed it out as his own.
After all, as the face of Apple design, Ives might be getting some amount of credit for designs that his underlings have made. He might not be seeking it, but that's how it's working out.
Ives is pretty much the only designer at Apple who gets any credit at all, at least in the media. And that's been the case for years now. He hasn't exactly been laboring in obscurity while Jobs sucked up all the credit and adulation.
But I'm glad to see someone holding him accountable for his life and the consequences of his actions.
The iPhone rocks, but the Foxconn factory it was made in is so fucking hard to work in that they have suicide nets on the roof; almost a dozen have killed themselves to escape the 14+ hour days.
The MacBook is beautiful, the iMacs are amazing, the software (before Lion) had a simplicity and aesthetic that were unmatched.
But to ignore the fact that many people were screwed over by Steve, that many people were payed a few cents an hour to make his products, and that he was a cold, arrogant man is just ignorant.
Thomas Edison was a shrewd, competitive, harsh man. Does this mean we should ignore his contributions to science? Absolutely not. Nikola Tesla , Leonardo Da Vinci, Howard Hughes, etc. etc. all had negative qualities like every other human. They contributed a lot to the world, though.
So some of the comments that are accusing this post of being over-dramatic or don't want any criticisms of Lord Jobs are foolish. He did a lot of good and a hell of a lot of bad. Acknowledging and accepting both, and then learning from both, is fair and rational. Facts are facts.
920,000+ employees, "almost a dozen" suicides
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_ra..., China 13.85 per 100,000.
Foxconn should have 127.42 suicides per year. "Almost a dozen" means they have one tenth the per-capita suicide rate of the rest of the country.
Study indicating double suicide risk in unemployed:
Even if you posit that 100% of China is unemployed and thus causes double the normal suicide rate, you'd still expect ~60 suicides at Foxconn in an average year.
"I'm glad to see someone holding him accountable for […] the consequences of his actions" is what I'd call over-dramatic.
As I replied to Nirvana, I'm recognizing the fact that Jobs, like everyone, was not perfect and had negative qualities. I'm also recognizing his involvement in a supply chain I don't feel 100% happy about. I still buy his products but I'm aware of the negative stuff, too. I'm just trying to be informed and fair about him. And by talking about a part, that does not mean I'm unaware of or ignoring the whole. If I talk about the evils Dr. Mengele that doesn't mean I've forgotten about the rest of the Nazi party. We're just talking about specifics in relation to this article (Steve Jobs and Apple).
Have you been on the internet for the past month? There are at least 5 highly upvoted threads on Reddit per day calling him an asshole.
Locals there are probably applying to Foxconn the same way we apply to plush companies like Google/Facebook. And if Foxconn turns them down, they're forced to work at factories with far worser conditions.
Also, I'm tired of seeing Apple haters say "I love me some iPods, so you must know I'm being objective when I say Steve Jobs murdered a man! Stabbed him in the back, even!"
If you were a Penn State football fan and recognized that Coach Sandusky was fucked up, you're not a) spreading lies or b) being a Penn State hater. You're recognizing a negative thing that is unfortunately a part of something you generally like.
I generally like Steve Jobs' message and his speeches and products. But I'm recognizing the fact he, like everyone, was not perfect and had negative qualities. I'm also recognizing his involvement in a supply chain I don't feel 100% happy about. I still buy his products but I'm aware of the negative stuff, too. I'm just trying to be informed and fair about him.