Charlie Rose and Bloomberg TV put together an amazing show on Steve Jobs yesterday.
Charlie’s guests were Eric Schmidt, Marc Andreessen, and Walt Mossberg, all of whom are fixtures in the tech industry and all of whom knew Steve personally.
Courtesy of Bloomberg, we can share the transcript of the show.
Here’s a segment with Eric Schmidt…
CHARLIE ROSE, BLOOMBERG NEWS: I’m Charlie Rose in
Washington. We continue our coverage looking at the death of
Steve Jobs and what he has meant to America. One of the
giants of innovation, he was a man who left his mark. And
many people who knew him remember him this evening.
One of the people is Eric Schmidt, who is now the
chairman of Google. He was on the Apple board, but more
importantly he’s been part of the community that Steve Jobs
was in. And also is a man who could consider himself a
friend. So I’m pleased that Eric can come with us this
evening to reminisce and talk about this man who had such a
profound impact on the world in terms of what he said, what
he did, and how he changed the way we respond and react to
the things around us. I begin, Eric, with this obvious
question. What’s his legacy?
ERIC SCHMIDT, CHAIRMAN, GOOGLE: I’m sure he’ll be
remembered as the greatest computer entrepreneur in history.
I doubt anyone will be able to do the things that he’s done.
Remember, he did them twice. First in building the first
version of Apple and then the second one. He’ll also be seen
as the person who perfectly merged art and science in a
community that doesn’t have a lot of artists. In many ways
Steve proved that artists win and nerds don’t. I’ve never
seen anyone with those skills, and I am concerned we’ll never
seen anyone like that in the future. That’s how profound
Steve’s artistic and technology union really was for all of
ROSE: What was his passion?
SCHMIDT: When I spent time with Steve, he talked a lot
about solving – solving end-user programs, solving consumer
problems, but doing it in an artistic way. He saw beauty as a
part of everything he did. If you look at his history, he
obviously was involved with Pixar and movies and so forth. He
cared a lot about how the average person, the average human
around the world, consumed things. Was it beautiful? Was it
artistic? Was it clever? If you look at the Apple stores and
the art there, over and over again he is a combination of
technology and artist. An analogy would be – from history
would be Michelangelo, who did both. There have been very,
very few such people in history.
ROSE: It is often said about him that – that he
understood design better than anybody else. And in saying
that, some people did not recognise that he understood
technology. You are a technologist. You were formerly a chief
technology officer at Sun Microsystems and have had a
distinguished career and came out of that kind of academic
background. Steve had a different academic background, but
most people in technology gave him credit for his
understanding what about technology?
SCHMIDT: Steve was so brilliant that he was able to
actually span both fields. That was so – what was so
extraordinary with him. When he was running NeXT, for
example, I and a set of people out from Sun Microsystems were
working on a technology called object render programming
(ph), including people who had done research and PhDs in this
area, went over to visit him. He spent an hour explaining
what he was doing with such passion that he convinced us that
he was right. And it took us another half an hour to find any
holes in his argument. He saw us confirming and he ran out to
try to convince us even moreso. That was the level of depth
that he understood technology.
And I think that people who say that he was an artist
and not a technologist don’t understand how hard it is to
build the products that Apple under his leadership did in
terms of scale and power and so forth. He understood
everything that the computer scientists were doing and drove
them as hard as he drove his artist friends too.
ROSE: And also understood marketing.
SCHMIDT: Obviously he understood the notion. He was a
showman in that sense. The unveils. At the board meetings,
for example, he would love to have all the new products and
unveil them one by one and talk about how they were going to
change the world. He took great pride in the products that
were built and that we all – that we all use today.
ROSE: It is said that he didn’t suffer fools easily.
SCHMIDT: I think all such creative people are so
passionate that they don’t have a lot of time for people who
sort of don’t get it. And I think it’s fair to say that Steve
was one of those people. Steve, however, inspired great
loyalty among the people who worked for him and people who
worked with him. And if you look, the mourning that’s going
on from his former and current employees and the many people
that have worked with him and known him closely indicates
that while he certainly had strong opinions about things, you
could talk to him. You could – he would listen to you,
especially if you were right.
ROSE: What’s interesting too this evening is that most
of us – most of us are directly connected to him because we
have an iPad, we have a phone, we have a Mac computer. We
know and understand what he was about because we can see it
and hold it and feel it.
SCHMIDT: Well, in that sense I think the artist role
makes a lot of sense. He’s the first person to take computing
and computing platforms and make products that actually cause
people to fall in love. In love with their products, in love
with the artistry, in love with using information. And that I
think is his primary contribution. He also of course has
changed the course of history with the kinds of things he’s
done with respect to the scale of the platforms that were
built at Apple.
But I think ultimately if you look at the success of the
iPod, for example, which everybody said couldn’t be done, or
the success of the iPhone, which really brought in the
smartphone revolution and really sort of invented it, he will
get the credit. And he and the teams that he led deserve that
credit for doing it.
ROSE: It is often said as well that he was not a guy
that did a lot of testing. He was not trying to find out what
the market wanted. He wanted to build something that he knew
if the market saw it they would want it. It was creating a
SCHMIDT: Yes. It – what’s important about this
particular founder, he has a particularly good sense of what
people wanted from technology because they wanted to solve
real problems. And he would famously, for example, not add a
second button to the mouse because the mouse only needed one
button. For a while his computers didn’t have the equivalent
of CD – CD drives way back when because he didn’t see the
need. And that approach, that sort of tough-love approach,
worked because he was able to sort of capture the imagination
and solve the problems in a different way. Apple –
ROSE: So you’re –
SCHMIDT: Apple as a company has – has that ability to
move its customer base forward in a way that the personal
computer industry largely has not.
ROSE: You were on this board.
SCHMIDT: That’s correct.
ROSE: What was that like?
SCHMIDT: Well, it was great fun and it was a great honour
for me. The people of course at Apple are very smart. And
working with Steve is fascinating because he does listen to
you and he has great ideas. So there were lots and lots
conversations about where the company could go and so forth,
and lots and lots of discussion about what the new
opportunities were, where are the new markets in media and
entertainment and so forth and so on. And Steve led those
personally. And when he was sick he would come to the board
meetings even if he were – if he were ill and work very, very
One of the things that I think it’s worth saying is that
he did suffer at some times during his illness. And I think
none of us would want to go through the suffering that he
went through. And I think that in his legacy we need to – we
need to recognise his courage in the face of his own
mortality and his own health. And this went on for six or
seven years under extraordinarily difficult medical
situations. He lived, as far as I know, as long as anyone
possibly could with the medical diagnosis that he did, and he
did it with tremendous courage that most people have not
ROSE: Did he talk about his own mortality?
SCHMIDT: We talked a little bit what it was like to go
through the medical procedures that he went through. And we
would talk about sitting on his back porch and appreciating
the sunshine and appreciating the fresh air and looking at
the flowers. And I think that if there was any person in the
world who understood the value of life, it was Steve Jobs.
ROSE: He often would say in talking about his illness –
you got a sense of optimism somehow that he believed that he
could overcome this. Was that simply for the benefit of
others or did he believe that somehow because he believed in
science and technology and believed that there were solutions
to problems that he might survive this?
SCHMIDT: I think of Steve as – as our country’s greatest
innovator. And in his illness I think he believed, like with
many other things, that with sheer passion and sheer force of
will these were overcomeable. And I think the quality of his
life at the end and his ability – his discipline really sort
of showed those characteristics. And those are
characteristics that all of us should admire.
ROSE: When he – when he was dealing with products, I’ve
heard these anecdotal stories, there was a perfectionist, a
man who looked at what was possible and insisted that it
could be done. And even though you – or not you, but someone
working with him – might get a 2 a.m. phone call saying,
“What about this?” and Steve would insist that he wanted it
done even though the person buying the product might not know
or might not even care, but he cared that it be the way that
he thought it could be, the way he imagined it in his own
SCHMIDT: This is a man who understood detail. And he
cared the way an artist cares about every brushstroke. So it
was important that everything be perfect, whether it’s the
packaging or the distribution or the branding or the software
working and so forth and so on. He spent hours and hours
preparing, for example, for his presentations. And over and
over again would bring his staff up to the level of his
presentation skills over and over again. Over and over again
Steve showed that this sort of – this sort of obsession that
he had around quality and beauty could be translated in the
execution of the company.
ROSE: Is there anybody like him that you know?
SCHMIDT: I do not. And again, hopefully in the future
there will be other leaders as great with as great a sense of
beauty and taste as – as Steve. He talked a lot about where
that came from, but it came from his early youth. He actually
cared about fonts and characters and ligatures and all the
other things that were being invented at the time.
ROSE: He also has talked about in the famous Stanford
commencement speech remembering Stewart Brand’s famous words.
He said, “Stay hungry and stay foolish.” But in a
commencement speech that’s remembered by all of us who give
commencement speeches as – as almost as good as it can get,
he understood how telling stories of life experiences,
looking at where you failed or where you were inspired, was
the way to connect and bring in the human element.
SCHMIDT: I think one of the things about great leaders
is that they learn from the data before them. They learn from
their failures. They learn from what worked and what didn’t.
As products would come along that wouldn’t do as well, Steve
would say, “We made this mistake. We made this mistake. We
fixed this. We have this other thing that we want to do.”
And Steve was particularly good at learning from the
period that he called in the wilderness when he was at NeXT.
And he had a lot of – he spent a lot of time thinking about
what he would do when he got back to Apple. And I think that
that period of time in his history allowed him to sort of
thinking about what it would take to build what is clearly
the most valuable technology company in the world today.
ROSE: It clearly is. So why was he unsuccessful at NeXT,
or would you define that experience as unsuccessful?
SCHMIDT: Well, he would say that NeXT was before its
time. What he did with NeXT is he – he built a platform that
was very powerful. And the platform at NeXT is in fact the
basis of the Mac OS. They use literally the same operating
system and languages. And he was focused on chief information
officers and so forth.
I think that ultimately when people look back at this
they’ll say that the NeXT period was a period of time where
he sort of organised his technology vision, he organised his
team. And the NeXT team, when they – when they went back to
Apple were able to very quickly take the technology he
invented at NeXT and take it to what was then a lagging
software and hardware platform at Apple and revitalize it.
The subsequent transitions to the Intel platform and the
other things that propelled the Mac to its current great
success are a direct result of the architectural decisions
that were made when he was at NeXT.