Posthumously giving Steve Jobs the good guy treatment is a mistake
A world without Steve Jobs.
It’s an odd prospect for many. The loss of the entrepreneurial genius with an affection for black sweaters and jeans has weighed heavily in discussion these past few weeks, and understandably so. It seems so strange that someone who represented so much to so many could die so young.
But for the great many folks mourning the loss of a great man, stop it already. The loss is sad, but only as sad as it would be for any other 56 year old to wither away from cancer. The fact that it was Jobs who died and not a small business owner from Phoenix is completely irrelevant. And for those arguing how much he changed the world, it might behoove you to actually look at what he did with his life.
There is no arguing that Jobs was a genius at running a business. It seems like every company he touched he brought to a golden age. Apple, Pixar (and Disney by extension)—the biggest names made for some impressive notches in his belt. He is listed on more than 300 patents, and at the time of his death his net worth was estimated to be roughly $7 billion.
In terms of business, he was a great man.
In terms of being a decent, charitable human being, however, he was a bit of an amateur.
Take, for example, a story that’s been floating around for a few weeks now. In 1974, Jobs was working at Atari. He was charged with reducing the number of TLL chips in the game Breakout for the pay of $700. For every chip he was able to remove, he would be paid a $100 bonus. Jobs reached out to his friend, Steve Wozniak, telling him that he’d split the payment with him, 50/50, if he would help him with the project.
In the end, Wozniak was able to remove 50 chips from the design. Jobs turned in the project, told Wozniak that Atari had given him $700 for the work and gave him $350 for his efforts. Jobs pocketed the remaining payment and flew off on his merry way before Wozniak could figure out that he’d been shafted. See, Jobs hadn’t told him about the bonus. He made Wozniak do all the work for a mere $350, while he skipped town with $5,350.
If that wasn’t bad enough, he also got his high school sweetheart pregnant in 1977. When his daughter was born in 1978, he claimed that she couldn’t be his, as he was “sterile.” He allowed his ex-girlfriend to raise their child on welfare while he raked in all sorts of money with his new computer company, Apple. It took quite a few years for him to own up to having fathered a child, after which he fathered three more.
Jobs wasn’t just a jerk to his friends and lovers, though. He would do anything to get ahead in business. He was removed from managerial duties with Apple—the company he co-founded—in 1985 for plotting a coup against the CEO he had brought onboard and for taking too many risks with the company’s funds. He left Apple and laid low for a few years, starting new businesses and buying the company that would eventually be known as Pixar Animation Studios.
When he came back to Apple in 1996, Jobs was seen as a terror. People feared bumping into him on the basis that he might cancel their projects. In 1997, he took control of the company again. One of the first things he did at this point was eliminate all of Apple’s philanthropic programs. Not to replace them with better ones, mind you—he just wanted to make the company as profitable as possible. He eventually allowed several of his products to be used by the RED charity for the benefit of Africa, but that was nearly ten years later. There are also no records of Jobs having ever given to charity.
As a reference, chairman and former CEO of Microsoft Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, have given more than $30 billion to charity.Yes, Steve Jobs was an extraordinary businessman, and he most definitely will be missed for his innovations. Apple will no doubt struggle with this loss. However, Jobs himself was a cold, cutthroat and selfish human being. Mourn the image, but keep in mind that the man behind the curtain was anything but kind.
This article is a vindictive attack on a man who died of cancer. Jobs may have not been the greatest human being alive but he did great things for the field of technology. No person is perfect. This article actually made me sympathetic towards Jobs. He made mistakes and was not the greatest of people however I feel more ashamed that there are people out there who say completely hurtful things about the deceased.
I’m sorry, but what leading business tycoon doesn’t have a bunch of skeletons in his closet? Bill Gates makes up for a lot with charity, but he screwed a group of his close friends out of a ton of money too. Jobs is dead, is there really any point in slandering his name now? Every human has their faults, those with great power have greater faults. He wasn’t a pedophile, rapist, or mass murderer. Just a rich dude who mostly looked out for himself. If there’s a writer standing around waiting to bring up everything shitty someone did in their lifetime whenever someone dies, then we live in a pretty spiteful world. I say if there’s at least something good to say about someone who’s gone, say it. It’s a common decency I think we’ll all hope for when we’re gone.
“Steve Jobs was not nice to several people in his life. Let’s spit on his grave. The same way we would for any anonymous small business owner from Phoenix.”
Thanks for your insight, Janieve.