Steve Jobs bio: On Gates, Google, Zuckerberg and more

October 24, 2011

Steve Jobs’s biography offers plenty of insights not only into the life and times of Apple’s late co-founder but also the unique way he viewed the technology industry and its biggest players. Here are some quotes from Jobs pulled from the autobiography, which is on shelves today.

On Bill Gates: “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology,” Jobs said. Isaacson called this comment unfair. “He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas,” Jobs said.

Jobs also said, “The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste, they have absolutely no taste.

“I don’t mean that in a small way. I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas and they don’t bring much culture into their product.”

On Steve Ballmer: “When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don’t matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off. It happened at Apple when Sculley came in, which was my fault, and it happened when Ballmer took over at Microsoft. Apple was lucky and it rebounded, but I don’t think anything will change at Microsoft as long as Ballmer is running it,” Jobs said.

On Larry Page: When Page took over as Google’s CEO from Eric Schmidt, he reached out to Jobs for advice on how to be a good chief executive, the book said. At first Jobs balked — still upset over Android — but then “thought about it and realized that everybody helped me when I was young, from Bill Hewlett to the guy down the block who worked for HP.”

Jobs told Page he has to “[figure] out what Google wants to be when it grows up. It’s now all over the map. What are the five products you want to focus on? Get rid of the rest, because they’re dragging you down. They’re turning you into Microsoft. They’re causing you to turn out products that are adequate but not great.”

On Mark Zuckerberg: Jobs doesn’t say much about Facebook’s young co-founder and CEO, but mentions that he’s taken Zuckerberg under his wing as an opportunity to pay back for the guidance he received as a young man. “I will continue to do that with people like Mark Zuckerberg too. That’s how I’m going to spend part of the time I have left. I can help the next generation remember the lineage of great companies here and how to continue the tradition. The Valley has been very supportive of me. I should do my best to repay,” Jobs said.

Jobs did tell Isaacson that he admired Zuckerberg for not “selling out,” the author revealed in an interview he conducted with 60 Minutes.

On Hewlett-Packard: Isaacson said there was some celebration at Apple when HP discontinued the TouchPad, but Jobs took a very serious lesson from the product’s failure.

“Hewlett and Packard built a great company, and they thought they had left it in good hands,” he told some of his top executives at Apple. “But now it’s being dismembered and destroyed. It’s tragic. I hope I’ve left a stronger legacy so that will never happen at Apple.”

On Steve Jobs: “I don’t think I run roughshod over people, but if something sucks, I tell people to their face. It’s my job to be honest. I know what I’m talking about, and I usually turn out to be right. That’s the culture I tried to create.”

Related stories:

Steve Jobs bio: Handling ‘Antennagate’

Walter Isaacson’s ‘Steve Jobs’ biography shows Apple co-founder’s genius, flaws

Jobs’s final plan: an ‘integrated’ Apple TV

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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