One of the defining threads that ran through Steve Jobs’ life was his battle with Microsoft and Bill Gates.
Though Steve Jobs was always seen as the cool innovator, for a long time Gates and Microsoft were the winners in business.
Microsoft’s success ate at Jobs. It became the world’s most valuable company, and Gates the world’s richest man, because “Windows just copied the Mac,” as Jobs put it in his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford.
Upon returning to Apple in 1997 he told the faithful, “We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose.” Once Jobs and Apple did that, and began focusing on iPods, iPhones, and iPads, the company’s earnings and valuation soared.
After years of fighting as an underdog, Apple’s market cap blew by Microsoft‘s last year, making it the world’s most valuable tech company.
Jobs and Apple had finally and definitively triumphed over Microsoft. It’s fitting Jobs was able to enjoy that in the last year of his life.
Did he need market approval? Probably not. But you know he loved getting it.
In reaction to Jobs’ death, Gates was as gracious as could be. He wrote, “The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honour. I will miss Steve immensely.”