Earlier this year, Steve Jobs, along with other tech titans such as Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Carol Bartz, and Larry Ellison (to name a few), had a dinner with President Obama to discuss America’s economy and what could be done to create more jobs here.
Thanks to Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs, we have a better idea what was discussed during the dinner.
And it wasn’t all polite.
In fact, according to Isaacson, Obama was annoyed that each business leader at the dinner (with the exception of Zuckerberg) seemed more concerned with boosting his own company instead of America’s economy as a whole.
Isaacson focuses on Cisco CEO John Chambers as an example:
Chambers, for example, pushed a proposal for a repatriation tax holiday that would allow major corporations to avoid tax payments on overseas profits if they brought them back to the United States for investment during a certain period. The president was annoyed, and so was Zuckerberg, who turned to Valerie Jarrett, sitting to his right, and whispered, “We should be talking about what’s important to the country. Why is he just talking about what’s good for him?”
Eventually, legendary VC John Doerr (who helped organise the dinner) encouraged the group to come up with more concrete ideas.
Steve Jobs focused on education. He said companies needed more trained engineers, especially those from other countries who earn their degrees in the U.S. but are forced out after graduation.
Obama told Jobs there was an immigration bill that would allow foreign students to get a visa after graduation, but it was tied up in Congress.
This annoyed Jobs, who later told Isaacson: “The president is very smart, but he kept explaining to us reasons why things can’t get done…It infuriates me.”
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