Thursday, 20 December 2012

Time is up for Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs

      Steve Jobs introduced Apple's ultra thin MacBook Air in January 2008
                 A charismatic presenter for his prized products but turned 
                        dictatorial zealot when he rebuked his staff

There are innumerable books, magazines and periodicals with articles, criticisms, comments, and biographies written regarding the attention grabbing, savant entrepreneur, business titan Steve Jobs. Those includes one biography written and published with his permission, so as to clear any misconception about his way of life and his running of his phenomenally successful corporate company with “Apple” brand name of ICT products. Walter Issacson of Aspen Institute was the only one authorized to pen his biography. A well-known writer and biographer, Issacson has been the CEO of CNN and Managing Editor of Time; he also wrote the biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Henry Kissinger. Here I shall concentrate on his demerit points as the head of his brainchild name of Apple Inc.

There was no denial that Steve Jobs had been a distinguished brilliant marketing mogul of his epoch-making products that changed the behaviors and lifestyle of human beings of modern times. However Job’s despotic, unconventional way of running his information and communication based conglomerate raised eye-brows among capable and experienced CEOs. Most of them would have never agreed with his aristocratic way of running his Apple Inc like an imperial emperor with wild whims. Steve Jobs behaved like a real life Dr Jackal and Mr. Hyde, a nightmare to his myriad of employees; especially those who worked closely with him in product development. With his frequent lambasting of his staff to whom he deemed not up to his expectation, and his often overrule of ideas and suggestions, even in near finished products, Steve Jobs had become a tyrannical boss the staff loved to hate. 

Bart and Liza Simpson looking up at Apple's logo.
Expecting something?

Obviously he lost many long-serving loyal employees but he shrugged off any allegation of being an overbearing, self-centered head of company as most of his workers chose to remain faithfully in the well-known company of life changing products, despite subjecting to his verbal tirade constantly. For that matter, Steve Jobs had become more relentless with scathing words in reprimanding his staff when he was dissatisfied with their performance. It was important to know that Steve Jobs as Chairman/CEO/co-founder of Apple Inc. lacked gentleman demeanor and professionalism in HR and business dealings. Fortunately most of his staunchly loyal vice-presidents (about 40 of them) helped to prevent a total collapse of his Apple Empire over the years. One of the major common grouses and headaches for Jobs’ staff was his constant interference with their product developments, marketing strategy, hiring and firing of workers etc. Of course there were some instances when Steve Jobs spurt with brilliant solutions and surprising suggestions that worked wonders. For employing and dismissing employees, he could have given his HR department a free hand to do the job appropriately.

Steve Jobs and his early version of Apple Macintosh Computer 1984

Still Steve Jobs went his assertive way, defying all contemporary rules and etiquettes to run his Apple Inc the way he wanted it, much to the chagrin of his senior staff.  It would have been better for his reputation, the growth of his huge company, and more emergence of awesome products for modern times, should he behave in a more humane, less prickly manner. Then again Steve Jobs lived through the non-conformist era of 1960s as a real life rebellious hippie; in many ways he behaved the same throughout his ruling years in Apple Inc.

Kind words from President Obama to Steve Jobs regarding his achievements.

In a meeting with President Obama in the fall of 2010 (Arranged by Jobs’ wife Laurene Powell) Steve was so blunt that he questioned Obama’s ability and chances to run for 2nd term unless the administration became more business friendly.  While his arch rival Bill Gates of Microsoft had all praise for him, he criticized Gates for lack of imagination and had never invented anything, just ripping off other’s ideas. Of course Bill Gates had his reservation though he found Jobs fascinating. The Microsoft founder chairman recalled after meeting Jobs and commented that this weirdo was fundamentally flawed as a human being. Steve Jobs eventually kowtowed a bit to Bill Gates, urging him to buy some stocks of Apple Inc. to save his company from being at the edge of financial collapse; but the tone of his pledging to Gates remained arrogant and haughty. Gates was bemused but took up the offer anyway.

In a way Steve Jobs's acquiring of Pixar (animation studio) helped him out of his doldrums as that provided him a bargaining edge over his return to Apple after a hiatus of 12 years. He bought Pixar from Lucasfilm at US$12 million and sold to Walt Disney Company for a whooping $7.4 billion in its stock values and that made him the largest shareholder of Disney Co. 

In 2005 Steve Jobs gave a speech to graduating students at Stanford University where he told them to “Stay Hungry”, and “Stay Foolish”. In a separate question and answer session he retorted some students’ seemingly immature questions by asking them: “When did you lose your virginity? And when were you last inhaling marijuana?” The same questions he put out to a young, shy and introvert newly graduated applicant who came for a job interview. It was conducted by Apple’s HR departmental managers when Steve Jobs barged in. Watching the boy’s discomfiture and his stammering in answering, Jobs fired his usual questions that drew laughter. Feeling very belittled and embarrassed, the young man could not continue but just lamented that he might not be suitable to work with Apple Inc. and left in jitters.

Steve Jobs looked at his teenage daughter Liza with fatherly love. Yet he denied fathering her when she was born in 1978 in a paternity suit.

A girl was born to Chris-Ann Brennan and Steve Jobs in May 1978 (They had been dating on and off since high school years) but Jobs had the cheek to swear in court that he was sterile and infertile to deny being the father. Yet he was too conceited not to name his earlier computer Liza Apple; obviously it was named after his daughter Liza Nicole Brennan-Jobs. Eventually Jobs relented and acknowledged the relationship. Liza stayed with Steve Jobs briefly for a few years during her teens and her father paid for her education when she enrolled at Harvard University. She has become a famous writer and journalist based in Europe. The Apple founder married Laurene Powell in 1991; together they had two daughters and one son.

Liza Brennan-Jobs is a brilliant scholar from Harvard University and King's college, London. She is currently based in Europe as a successful writer/journalist.

Unlike Bill Gates, Steve Jobs was no known kind soul practicing philanthropy. He once lamented that the former was more into philanthropy than technology. Few years before his passing, Jobs’ wife Laurene had quietly involved in charity and non-profit entrepreneurship, focusing on education, arts and women’s human rights. She remains low-key and was not attention grabbing.

Launching the Apple MacBook Air in 2008, Steve Jobs was all smiles for the reaping of rewards for the hard work done.

Steve Jobs was always seen wearing long sleeved turtleneck and Levi blue jeans and a pair of New Balance sneakers, driving posh silver Mercedes Benz SL55 AMG without displaying the vehicle’s registration plates. When questioned by the police enforcers, he defiantly argued that the registration plates were always stolen since he was a well known public figure.

The whole world went gaga over the introduction of iPhone.

Jobs wanted to dictate what the media and general public thought of him but failed miserably. As a matter of fact he was being considered as an unfriendly freak, a self-centered weird nerd, and a belligerent warrior to his rivals. On the other hand he deemed his staffers were either genius or idiots to work along him in Apple Inc. In one occasion when he gathered his employees for a question and answer session, he was asked what he had ever done that brought him immense happiness. Instead he retorted that it was the stupidest question he ever heard. He turned his head away in disgust and exclaimed loudly: “next!”  Steve Jobs had on several occasions waved his hands furiously above the heads of his managers when he found flaws while inspecting the development and production departments. He shouted at those poor guys: “Have you got water seeped into your brains!” In actual fact Steve Jobs did not know much about technology as this was confirmed by his co-founder Steve Wozniak, former CEOs, numerous vice-presidents and many biographers who wrote about him. In real life, he was a boring person, an overbearing bigot who had no ordinary hobbies others enjoyed.

Bill Gates made it to be the wealthiest man on earth when Steve Jobs was still struggling.
The leaders of two giant ICT companies shared some light moments on a stage platform.

The recalcitrant CEO of Apple Inc. had been deemed a day light ghost by his staff if they ever found themselves unenviable to share the lift with him. For those Steve Jobs did not know, he would ask at the spur of the moment in rapid succession: “What’s your name? What department you’re in? What project are you working on now? What idea can you contribute to this project? What value you think you’re worthy to remain in the company?” It was told that some newbie employees were told there and then not to report for work the next day, as they were tongued tight to answer his streaming questions.  By the second half of 1997, many employees chose the staircase instead of the lift of the majestic building to avoid any unexpected morning session with their boss.

Laurene Powell, born 1963, married Steve Jobs in 1991. They have two daughters and one son. Now Laurene concentrates her attention to charity,  education, non-profit entrepreneurship and women's human rights movement. She sits in the board of few companies, as well as the advisory board of Stanford Graduate School of Business. 

Bill Curley, one of the marketing managers recalled that during a meeting with some sales staff, Steve Jobs was wearing a pair of shorts, and sneakers without socks. When he reprimanded an employee for not performing to his expectation, he took off his shoes, and placed his bare feet on the table facing the doomed staffer, twitching his toes. During an annual national conference of sales and marketing employees, Steve Jobs spoke on the stage for a long hour, condemning without reservation the lackluster sales performance of the 200 odd managers attending the meeting. Eventually he chose a name from the list of attendants, and cried out her name. The woman manager was surprised to be pinpointed, so she stood up. Jobs just pointed at her and rebuked her loudly: “Yes, you’re the one! Your sales figure is shamefully disgusting! I feel like sacking all of you right at this moment!” The lady in question thought that she had been victimized and made a scapegoat, so she argued loudly to clear the charge against her: “No, the sales figures for my branch were just above average. If that wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t my fault, blame the market!” Steve Jobs just brushed her off with his arm signaling her to sit down and promptly went to another issue. He displayed no respect and patience for his staff; he was not a modern day CEO to say: “My door is always open. You can come to see me anytime.” In many ways he had become oppressive and irrational. 

A young Steve Jobs posted an intimidating look in this early picture. He was handsome and suave alright.

Steve Jobs announced his resignation as Apple’s CEO on August 24th 2011. He wrote to the board: “…………I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately the day has come.”

A book on life of Steve Jobs, penned by renowned writer/biographer Walter Issacson. He was the only writer authorized to write and publish a book on Steve Jobs. It was a monumental task as Issacson needed to interview more than 200 persons to complete the job. 

For many employees who had suffered whilst working under their tyranical boss Steve Jobs, kicking his ass seems so natural a thing to do.

Steve Jobs died at 56 on Oct. the 5th 2011 of complication in liver and pancreatic disease. He left a legacy of lifestyle-changing innovations with introduction of modern electronic gadgets for information, communication technology. He was too proud of himself as he possessed an uncanny instinct for vision. He was a rare, outstanding savant to market his products, though he was not the inventor. He sure had charmed customers world-wide with his distinctive charisma, but one could not say that Steve Jobs held a pleasant disposition. In fact he had never hid his contempt for anybody having lesser intelligence than him. His ego was so astounding that he had offended many colleagues, employees, associates, business partners and even his own family members with his harsh words and sarcasms. It is good for Apple Inc. to look forward for new challenges upon the demise of Steve Jobs. The mega corporate company should tell the world loud and clear: “Without Steve Jobs, we still could survive. We shall strive for a better tomorrow for our company and the world with more stunning products!”

Some facts were obtained from Wikipedia and some
were  quoted from a book written in Chinese, named
"The World follows where his imaginations go-
The legendary Steve Jobs" It was written by
Wang Yong-Kang & Zhou Hong

Alan CY Kok

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