iCon: Steve Jobs, the Greatest Second Act in the History of Business
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iCon: Steve Jobs, the Greatest Second Act in the History of Business

by Jeffrey S. Young, William L. Simon

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According to F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are no second acts in American life. Apparently he forgot to tell Steve Jobs.

Jobs rose from an outcast high school electronics nerd to become the driving force behind Apple and avatar of the computer revolution, only to be driven from the company in failure and disgrace. Then, having endured repeated personal and


According to F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are no second acts in American life. Apparently he forgot to tell Steve Jobs.

Jobs rose from an outcast high school electronics nerd to become the driving force behind Apple and avatar of the computer revolution, only to be driven from the company in failure and disgrace. Then, having endured repeated personal and professional disasters, he went on to make an indelible mark on the entertainment industry, reclaim the throne at Apple, and, with the extraordinary success of the iPod, regain his reputation as arguably the greatest innovator of the digital age.

iCon takes a look at the most astounding figure in a business era noted for its mavericks, oddballs, and iconoclasts. Drawing on a wide range of sources in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, Jeffrey Young, author of the first-ever Jobs biography, and coauthor William Simon provide new perspectives on the legendary creation of Apple in a Silicon Valley garage and detail Jobs's meteoric rise as the prototypical digital wunderkind and the devastating plunge that left him not only out of Apple, but out of the computer-making business entirely.

Act two begins with Jobs displaying his talent for bedeviling business associates and making enemies along the way. Still stinging with embarrassment after his crash from the heights, he waged a tough negotiation with George Lucas for the purchase of the legendary filmmaker's computer animation business—at one-third of the asking price—and pressured his "partners" into settling for a modest percentage of what would become Pixar, keeping the remainder for himself.

This unflinching and completely unauthorized portrait reveals both sides of Jobs's role in the remarkable rise of the Pixar animation studio, from Toy Story and the string of hit movies that delighted audiences around the world to his rocky alliance with Disney. It also re-creates the acrimony between Jobs and Disney's Michael Eisner, which ended the once-close relationship between the two companies.

The most dramatic, and, no doubt, most satisfying of Jobs's achievements during his rise from the ashes was his recapture of Apple, ten years after being booted out of the company, in a coup that only he could have orchestrated. The authors examine the takeover and Jobs's reinvention of the company with the very popular iMac and his transformation of the industry, and again the culture, with the revolutionary iPod.

Complete with a preview of Jobs's third act, iCon is must reading for anyone who wants to understand how the modern digital age has been formed, shaped, and refined by the most influential figure of the age—a master of three industries: movies, music, and computers. It is about understanding the future by understanding the past and present of the Digital King, Steve Jobs.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“…getAbstract.com…recommends it highly to all business readers…” (Financial Times, 16th January 2006)

"...the writing is savvy and lively...even readers with a scant interest in computers, technology or animated movies will find the tale entertaining..." (www.getabstract.com, 29 Aug. 2005)

"...a story of the personalities behind the facts and figures...includes some interesting personal touches..." (Liverpool Daily Post, 22nd June 2005)

“…rich in anecdotes and retellings of turning points in the lives of Jobs, Apple and Pixar…” (Information Age, 1st August 2005)

"...the authors paint a vivid picture of Jobs as an occasional genius and a regular jerk. All of which makes for gripping reading for any Mac fan..." (icreate, July-December 2005)

“…Young and Simon are particularly good at telling the inside story…” (Belfast Sunday Life, 3 July 2005)

“…new perspectives on the creation of Apple…details Jobs’s meteoric rise, fall and rise again…” (Moneywise, June 2005)

“…a well-balanced look at an incredible life. The achievements are all catalogued in full, as are the personal idiosyncrasies and shortcomings…” (Glasgow Sunday Herald, June 19 2005)

"Provides insight into inner businer business strategies and power plays between larger-than-life personalities such as Disney boss Michael Eisner." (USA Today)

Apparently, this book hit a nerve. Or several.
According to media reports, Apple Computer removed all of the titles published by John Wiley & Sons from its retail stores to protest this book. Included were the successful Dummies series, as well as computer-related volumes from popular authors Andy Ihnatko and Bob LeVitus.
So what's the fuss?
This biography of Apple's co-founder is fairly well balanced. The authors keenly admire Jobs despite the many personal shortcomings they catalog, gleefully referring to sundry over-the-top idiosyncrasies as examples of Jobs' ''Stevian'' hubris.
But there's much to admire about Jobs. An adopted child of a northern California working class couple, he parlayed rabid curiosity about electronics, preternatural entrepreneurial zeal and a fierce sense of self into a partnership with the brilliant Steve Wozniak and created the revolutionary Apple II, the first popular personal computer.
The pair became multimillionaires, though Wozniak eventually left the company to pursue other interests — including flying small airplanes — after nearly dying in a plane crash.
Jobs subsequently latched onto and took over a wayward project at Apple to develop the next generation machine, and the resulting Macintosh became the computer of choice for artists and other creative folks.
Jobs' prickly personality and immense ambition may have helped drive his success but also fueled clashes with executives, board members and others, and led to his forced departure from the company he co-founded.
That was Jobs' wild first act.
But authors Jeffrey Young and William Simon also chronicle what came next.
After leaving Apple, Jobs' new computer company, NeXT, was a near-disaster. Though technologically advanced, the box was expensive and ill suited for its intended market, universities. Still, the operating system held great promise and the possibility for Jobs' return to the spotlight.
When divorce forced Star Wars auteur George Lucas to sell off his nascent computer animation company, Pixar, Jobs scooped it up at a fraction of the asking price. Soon, the production company allied with Disney and became a creative powerhouse in its own right, with smash films, Toy Story and Finding Nemo.
When Pixar went public, Jobs became a billionaire. At the same time, Apple was having a rough time with its latest CEO, Gil Amelio, who slashed costs, consolidated product lines and seemed to be on the verge of turning the company around despite a lack of ''Stevian'' political prowess.
His search for an appropriate operating system for a new, more powerful Macintosh attracted Jobs' attention. His NeXT software was the ticket back to Apple. After some deft machinations, Amelio was sent packing and Jobs became ''interim'' CEO.
Soon, some new, very cool computers were introduced by Apple and the company was again deemed successful and sexy, though Young and Simon suggest that Jobs was the beneficiary of the departed Amelio's cost-cutting and new product development initiatives.
Regardless, Jobs struck gold again with the introduction of the iPod music player, and the ''interim'' was removed from his title.
The biography includes many personal details that surely embarrass Jobs, such as his early abandonment of a daughter born to an unmarried girlfriend (both of whom he later reconciled with and supported), along with endless examples of pride, egotism, venality, ruthlessness and conceit.
But it's still an interesting and engaging tale. Warts and all, for better or worse, Steve Jobs is undisputedly an American business icon. (Miami Herald, June 6, 2005)

"One of the most captivating business biographies of recent years. Young and Simon have done a masterful job." (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

"A fascinating tale of an imaginative genius." (BookPage)

Library Journal
With Simon (coauthor, The Art of Intrusion), journalist Young here updates Steve Jobs: The Journey Is the Reward, his biography of the Apple Computer CEO. The authors, who call Jobs the "rock star of high tech," chronicle the remarkable comeback of the technology wunderkind who had been forced out of Apple in 1985. Jobs subsequently started Pixar, which compiled an impressive track record in developing animated films such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo. He eventually returned to Apple in 1997, where he was instrumental in developing the iMac and the iPod. Many biographies of Jobs suffer from his refusal to cooperate, and this one also betrays a hurried incompleteness, as if the authors were fearful that Jobs might achieve something new that they would be unable to include in time for publication. The book occasionally has a gossipy tone, especially in its overuse of unnamed sources, questionable when the reporting is not terribly flattering. In the final analysis, it's left to the reader to decide whether Jobs is a genius, a megalomaniac, or maybe both. Although the authors make a valiant effort to dissect Jobs's enigmatic life, without his cooperation this book is just another "unofficial" biography. It's uncertain whether we will ever get to know the real Steve Jobs any better. Suitable for public libraries.-Richard Drezen, Washington Post/NYC Bureau Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.81(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"My books are about the secret lives of hackers. This book is about the secret life of maybe the most influential person in technology. Who else can you think of that has put his stamp on three industries – computers, music, and movie animation? Once you start reading, you won’t want to put it down."— Kevin Mitnick, security consultant, www.mitnicksecurity.com, author of The Art of Deception and The Art of Intrusion

"Assembling the artifacts and stories to showcase the achievements of man is the work of museums like ours. But history also relies on authors like Young and Simon, who have done a memorable job compiling the biography of Steven Jobs from conversations with the people who have been players with this extraordinary technology pioneer. And this book is a fascinating read as well."— John Toole, executive director and CEO, Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California

"During the high-tech boom years when Steve Jobs gained global recognition, I was on the Silicon Valley scene to witness his rise to fame. We all admired his genius and became aware of his flaws, as well. You won’t want to miss this absorbing behind-the-scenes story." — Steve Westly, controller of the state of California, former senior vice president, eBay

"If technology was a competitive sport, Steve Jobs would be a combination of an NBA misbehaving superstar and an NHL player who high-sticks opponents whenever he thinks they’ve treated him badly. But he’d also be MVP. Fascinating and unforgettable." — Carol Mitch, Best Damn Sports Show Period

Meet the Author

JEFFREY S. YOUNG, one of the founding editors of MacWorld magazine, first met Steve Jobs in 1983. He is the author of the classic unauthorized biography Steve Jobs: The Journey Is the Reward. Young began his career as a reporter with the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, and, after MacWorld, wrote for The Hollywood Reporter and worked for Forbes in the 1990s as its contributing editor from Silicon Valley, writing profiles and business pieces, including a very influential profile of Microsoft's Steve Balmer. In 1997, he cofounded Forbes.com. Young is—also the author of—Forbes Greatest Technology Stories (Wiley). He lives in northern California.

WILLIAM L. SIMON is coauthor of Kevin Mitnick's The Art of Deception and The Art of Intrusion, both published by Wiley, as well as the award-winning author of more than twenty other books."He lives in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

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