Fast Decisions: Steve Jobs vs. Meg Whitman

In writing about the recent news that HP is taking their time to decide webOS’ fate, John Gruber wrote

So the longer HP waits, the less valuable WebOS becomes, because more and more of the smart and talented people behind it will have left…

When you’re faced with a “we need to stop the bleeding” problem, you need a fast decision.

This sounds much like the situation at Apple when Gil Amelio was ousted as CEO and Steve Jobs was acting as an active advisor. Apple was in such disarray top employees were leaving. Jobs first order of business was to stop the talent drain by repricing their stock options. What happened next, according to Walter Isaacson in Steve Jobs:

Jobs called for a telephonic board meeting and outlined the problem. The directors balked. They asked for time to do a legal and financial study of what the change would mean. “It has to be done fast,” Jobs told them. “We’re losing good people.” 

When the board proposed a study that could take two months, Jobs exploded: “Are you nuts?!?”

Ultimately, Jobs threatened to leave Apple if the board wouldn’t support this kind of decision, which they did. 

Desperate times, desperate measures, and all that. I don’t know if feet are being dragged by Whitman or the board, but if the latter Whitman might want to crack a head or two. 

 

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Steve Jobs answers Android UX designer’s question

In this interview with Matias Duarte, the head of user experience for Android, I was struck by something the author observed:

“What is the soul of the new machine?” The words are emblazoned across Matias’ laptop display.

It struck me because it sounded familiar, as if that question had already been asked and answered. And it was. By Steve Jobs

In his WWDC keynote a few weeks ago, Steve Jobs said the following. “You know, if the hardware is the brain and the sinew of our products, the software in them is their soul.”

When Duarte is asked if that’s the first time anyone at Google ever asked that question, he replies: 

“I don’t think anybody ever asked about the soul,” he answers in a very matter-of-fact way, “This was my question, it was the question I challenged the team with.”

Right. Maybe the team didn’t see Jobs’ WWDC keynote. 

That’s Where He Will Be. (For Steve Jobs)

There’s lots of things that I don’t know, the afterlife is one.
I tend to think we live our lives, and after that it’s done.
But if there is a place revealing great technology,
That’s where he will be.

Technology was for the few when his work did begin.
An era for “the rest of us” is what he ushered in.
And if there is a place with a “mere mortals” citizenry,
That’s where he will be.

I know there’s hardship in the world, and tragedy unmeasured,
But cannot use that to deny that there are also treasures.
And if there is a place where the consumer holds the key,
That’s where he will be.

So I’ll always be grateful that he bucked the status quo.
Not satisfied with where we were; knew somewhere else to go.
And if there is a place for those who see what we can’t see,
That’s where he will be.

Ideas, Not Hierarchy: On Steve Jobs Supposedly Making All Apple Decisions

I’ve read more than a few articles since Steve Jobs’ resignation as CEO that question how Apple will perform without him there to call all the shots. It reminded me of a conversation he had with Walt Mossberg at the D8 conference (starting at around the 1-hour mark). He was asked what a typical work day for him would be like: 

Jobs: What I do all day is meet with teams of people and work on ideas and solve problems to make new products, to make new marketing programs, whatever it is. 

Mossberg: And are people willing to tell you you’re wrong? 

Jobs: (laughs) Yeah.

Mossberg: I mean, other than snarky journalists, I mean people that work for…

Jobs: Oh, yeah, no we have wonderful arguments.

Mossberg: And do you win them all? 

Jobs: Oh no I wish I did. No, you see you can’t. If you want to hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions and you have to, you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best ideas have to win, otherwise good people don’t stay. 

Mossberg: But you must be more than a facilitator who runs meetings. You obviously contribute your own ideas. 

Jobs: I contribute ideas, sure. Why would I be there if I didn’t? 

I love the last line. Jobs says it so matter of factly, as if it’s obvious. And it is, to him. But for many people it’s not, they think Jobs is there because he’s Jobs. Period. Yet from his answer you can see that in his mind he’s there because he’s another of the “great people” working at Apple and helping make the decisions about which ideas are best. 

No one denies that the Apple executive team is brilliant, yet it seems many are willing to believe they’re just puppets. I’d argue the two are mutually exclusive. Jobs is right, brilliant people won’t stand for the best idea consistently losing. They’ll leave. I think there’s a reason for this management team’s relative longevity. They like making consistent winners, not being shouted down by seniority or politics and producing failures. 

Fortune ranks Steve Jobs first in list of ‘smart’ technology CEOs

Jobs is credited with salvaging Apple from near-bankruptcy, and subsequently turning it into the most valuable tech company in the world. He is also described as having radically altered four different industries: music through iTunes, animated movies via Pixar, telecoms by way of the iPhone, and computers as a whole via the iPad.

Who even comes close? Aside from Apple’s success, the most obvious point in Jobs’ favor is that the smartest move other tech CEOs can make is to try copying whatever Apple does.

Jobs’ grip at the top of the list is so tight he should occupy the first five positions.

How much credibility will ZDNet destroy?

There’s just something deeply disturbing about a guy with a personal net worth of $5.5 billion dollars seeming to take such joy in throwing developers out onto the street.

The piece is such garbage I won’t link to it. I’ve told you it’s on ZDNet, so I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding it.

There’s something disturbing about a mainstream tech site that sets aside any pretense of reasonable reporting to publish insidious garbage in a trade of credibility for page hits.

The closing line above—bringing class warfare into the picture—is an especially nice touch. I think even Gizmodo passed on this article.

Gizmodo is even dumber than I thought (and so is Woz)

But without Steve Wozniak, there would be no iPad. There would be no Apple as we know it today.

 

Wow, the depths to which Gizmodo’s ignorance runs is deeper than the Mariana trench.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Steve Jobs would be millionaire (actually, billionaire) even if he’d never met Woz. Meanwhile, had Woz not been dragged kicking and screaming into Apple he would’ve been laid off at HP as soon as they could no longer sell calculators at $400 a pop. Remember, HP wasn’t interested in Woz’s computer designs.

The idea that Jobs wouldn’t be changing industries if he hadn’t met Woz is laughable. And the idea that Woz would be a success on his own is equally laughable. All you have to do is look at what each has accomplished without the other. Even the brain-dead staff at Gizmodo could figure it out of they wanted to, but that wouldn’t make what passes as a “story” over there.

As for Woz, I don’t care what one thinks of his engineering skills, he’s an ass for wearing that t-shirt.