When it comes to Steve Jobs, there’s the “Good Steve,” and then, there’s the “Bad Steve,” says biographer Walter Isaacson.
His mammoth personality could inspire those around him just as easily as it could tear them down.
Here are 16 examples of when it did the latter.
Isaacson describes how Jobs handled himself when one of Apple's partners wasn't performing adequately:
VLSI Technology, a chip company, was having trouble delivering enough chips on time. Jobs stormed into a meeting and started shouting that they were 'f*cking d*ckless arseholes.' The company ended up getting the chips to Apple on time, and its executives made jackets that boasted on the back, 'Team FDA.'
Jony Ive went to the trouble of finding a boutique, 5-star hotel room for Jobs to stay at in London. As soon as Jobs got to his room he called up Ive and said, 'I hate my room. It's a piece of sh*t, let's go.' Jobs grabbed his things to leave, stopping at the desk to tell the clerk what he thought of the hotel.
Jony Ive tells this story: 'Once we went to Whole Foods market to get a smoothie ... And this older woman was making it and he really got on her about how she was doing it.'
Jobs later felt bad realising she's an older woman doing a job that she's not happy with.
The Xerox Star was supposed to be the hot new computer that came out in 1981 (though it was ultimately a flop). Jobs and his team went to go check it out and were absolutely unimpressed. A few weeks later he called Bob Belleville, one of the hardware designers on the Xerox Star team. 'Everything you've ever done in your life is shit,' Jobs said, 'so why don't you come work for me?'
Belleville joined the team.
Jobs denied paternity of his daughter Lisa for years. She and her mother ended up living on welfare. To Jobs' credit, however, he ultimately made the situation right, paying child support and reimbursing the state of California for years of back child support. He ended up connecting with Lisa and she became a member of his family.
From Isaacson's biography:
(When his parents dropped him off) he refrained from even saying good-bye or thanks. He recounted the moment later with uncharacteristic regret: 'It's one of the things in life I really feel ashamed about. I was not very sensitive, and I hurt their feelings. I shouldn't have. They had done so much to make sure I could go there, but I just didn't want them around. I didn't want anyone to know I had parents. I wanted to be like an orphan who had bummed around the country on trains and just arrived out of nowhere, with no roots, no connections, no background.'
While working at Atari, Jobs recruited Steve Wozniak's help to build a scaled-down version of 'Pong.' There was a big bonus involved in getting it done quickly. Jobs lied about how much money was involved, pocketing the majority of the money for himself.
Daniel Kottke was one of Apple's first employees and was even a personal friend of Jobs -- the two traveled around India together in 1974. But for some reason, Jobs never set him up with stock options.
Rod Holt, Apple's vice president of engineering, confronted Jobs with this, saying, 'Whatever you give him, I will match it.'
Steve said, 'OK. I will give him zero.'
A surprising story about Jobs interviewing a job candidate from Isaacson's book:
'How old were you when you lost your virginity?' he asked. The candidate looked baffled. 'What did you say?' 'Are you a virgin?' Jobs asked. The candidate sat there flustered, so Jobs changed the subject. 'How many times have you taken LSD?' Hertzfeld recalled, 'The poor guy was turning varying shades of red, so I tried to change the subject and asked a straightforward technical question.' But when the candidate droned on in his response, Jobs broke in. 'Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble,' he said, cracking up Smith and Hertzfeld. 'I guess I'm not the right guy,' the poor man said as he got up to leave.
When MobileMe launched in the summer of 2008, it was plagued with problems. People had trouble getting their data to sync to the cloud and across their devices.
The press, including the WSJ's Apple enthusiast Walt Mossberg, slammed MobileMe as an unfinished product.
To address the problem, Jobs gathered the MobileMe team in Apple's auditorium and asked: 'Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?' When the team gave their answers, Jobs replied, 'Then why the f*ck doesn't it do that?'
Jobs then fired the MobileMe boss on the spot and replaced him with Eddie Cue.
In 2008, Joe Nocera was working on a column about Steve Jobs' health, criticising Jobs and Apple for keeping it a secret from investors.
Before the column was published, Jobs called Nocera and said:
'You think I'm an arrogant arsehole who thinks he's above the law, and I think you're a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.'
Steve Jobs wanted to make a big splash with the iPad's ad campaign. He didn't like the first round of promo videos, so he called up James Vincent, the man in charge of the ads and told him: 'Your commercials suck...The iPad is revolutionizing the world, and we need something big. You've given me small shit.'
That triggered an argument between the two men. Jobs couldn't decide what he wanted, he just wanted Vincent to come up with something new and exciting. After a lot of back and forth, the 'Revolution' ad campaign began.
When Gawker's Ryan Tate wrote an email to Steve Jobs asking why he denied developers the 'freedom' to create what they wanted on the iPad, it kicked off a heated exchange of emails.
Jobs got the final word:
'By the way, what have you done that's so great? Do you create anything, or just criticise others' work and belittle their motivations?' he wrote.
Isaacson asked Jobs' best friend Jony Ive what he thought. Here's his response:
I once asked him why he gets so mad about stuff. He said, 'But I don't stay mad.' He has this very childish ability to get really worked up about something, and it doesn't stay with him at all. But, there are other times, I think honestly, when he's very frustrated, and his way to achieve catharsis is to hurt somebody. And I think he feels he has a liberty and licence to do that. The normal rules of social engagement, he feels, don't apply to him. Because of how very sensitive he is, he knows exactly how to efficiently and effectively hurt someone. And he does do that.
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