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The Second Coming of Steve Jobs

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Overview

From the acclaimed Vanity Fair and GQ journalist?an unprecedented, in-depth portrait of the man whose return to Apple precipitated one of the biggest turnarounds in business history. With a new epilogue on Apple?s future survival in today?s roller-coaster economy, here is the revealing biography that blew away the critics and stirred controversy within industry and media circles around the country.
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Overview

From the acclaimed Vanity Fair and GQ journalist–an unprecedented, in-depth portrait of the man whose return to Apple precipitated one of the biggest turnarounds in business history. With a new epilogue on Apple’s future survival in today’s roller-coaster economy, here is the revealing biography that blew away the critics and stirred controversy within industry and media circles around the country.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Our Review
Silicon Valley Saga
Most CEOs don't banish smoking and institute vegetarian-only cuisine on their corporate campuses. Nor do they fire and rehire the same people while making a habit of terrorizing their employees. And they don't tend to spend millions of dollars and countless hours designing the perfect office and factory instead of creating a marketable, successful product.

Even if they were to pull off such behavior, as Steve Jobs did in his various professional endeavors from 1985 to 2000, would they still be worshiped and canonized as he has been? Few others could fall from grace so publicly and have the wherewithal to return so triumphantly. Job's homecoming to Apple Computers, the company he founded, after his humiliating ousting in 1985 heralded one of the most astonishing business turnarounds in corporate history. Bringing Apple's stock price, sales figures, and market share to all-time highs in a PC-dominated world stunned the industry and reestablished Jobs's place in the corporate pantheon.

It's one of many experiences that have made Jobs such a fascinating subject of the many works that have focused on him. His legendary charisma, exceptional genius, and the cultlike following he inspires make for an extraordinary character, but not one without considerable flaws, all of which are explored from an insider's perspective in Alan Deutschman's intriguing book, The Second Coming of Steve Jobs.

There's little doubt that Jobs is a visionary and revolutionary, but the substance of The Second Coming of Steve Jobs reduces him to human scale by recounting his often irrational and repugnant behavior through more than 100 interviews with Jobs's friends, employees, and professional contacts.

The Second Coming of Steve Jobs feels like a 304-page magazine profile, a style that fits the author, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair magazine and a former Silicon Valley correspondent for Fortune. The content of the book is two-thirds gossip and dish and one-third chronology and analysis. The result is an entertaining page-turner that reads like an episode of VH1's Behind the Music, complete with the classic rise, fall, and rise again plotline, obscene displays (and misspending) of wealth, betrayal, and appearances by other notable players, like Bill Gates of Microsoft, Jim Clark of Netscape, Larry Ellison of Oracle, and Michael Eisner of Disney.

Steve Jobs's successes are far less interesting to read about than his failures, the most outstanding of which is NeXT, his mid-'80s, post-Apple computer company. Jobs started NeXT in an attempt to outdo and exact revenge upon Apple but ended up alienating his core team of professional confidants, burning through money at a phenomenal rate, and ultimately seeing his company liquidated garage-sale style. After reading about the way in which Jobs ran the company, it's actually little surprise that it was such a stunning failure.

According to the book, Jobs spent more time obsessing about finding the perfect furniture for his office, building the most aesthetically pleasing hardware, and spewing vitriol against Apple than focusing on how to develop a killer computer. He fleeced enormous sums from investors, only to empty his coffers on the company's logo and factory and end up in the red. NeXT barely shipped computers and never met its sales projections. Jobs ignored advice about reconsidering his strategy and rejected buyout offers. Toss in the climate of fear that he created within the company, and it's a perfect recipe for disaster.

But Jobs refused to deal with any of that. Deutschman paints a portrait of a man so obsessed by the concept of perfection, so embittered by the injustices he felt he suffered, that he'd become blind to reality. This is best evidenced by his egomaniacal dealings with the creative founders of Pixar, the computer animation company behind the movie Toy Story.

Jobs tried to impose his way on the familial corporate culture of Pixar, insisting that his money gave him the right to run the company in his image. But eventually, a broken Jobs realized that the company's virtues lay in the creative spirits of its founders and artists, and he lost his battle for control. Instead, he waged war against Disney and won unprecedented lucrative contracts from them, took Pixar public, and reclaimed the wealth he lost with NeXT.

The Pixar episodes are among the most interesting material in The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, providing revealing perspective on a less-discussed aspect of Jobs's professional history. They also reveal an incarnation of Jobs that encapsulates his best and worst qualities as a businessman, negotiator, and visionary. As reviewed in the chapter of the book called "Being Steve," Jobs is a walking contradiction, an insecure, capricious, childlike man whose fierce tenacity engenders his legendary resilience. Although he's a great man who often feels that the rules don't apply to him, he's also suffered greatly, which together make him someone who will no doubt continue to capture media and literary attention for years to come.

--Emily Burg

From the Publisher
"Great Read. One of the keenest observers of the business and culture of Silicon Valley sets his sights on one of the most remarkable stories in the recent history of Silicon Valley."
--Fast Company

"A carefully sketched portrait of a paradoxical man…reads like a novel and has the scope of Ben Hur. And it’s the strangest of high-tech industry books it’s good."
--Business 2.0

"Deutschman illuminates the attributes that have made Jobs not only a success but also an influential innovator in two major industries. THE SECOND COMING…includes fascinating details about Jobs…anyone interested in the culture of Silicon Valley should find it well worth a read."
--San Francisco Chronicle

"Deutschman, in a mere 301 pages, rips a hole in Jobs that can only be compared to the fatal tear in the Hindenburg."
--Forbes.com

"A fascinating portrait of the Apple Computer founder…A mesmerizing, outstanding read, this book crackles with energy. Some of the passages will make your mouth drop open."
--Dallas Morning News

"Alan Deutschman’s delicious Steve Jobs biography is a psychological profile with a fruit-flavored iMac punch line. The book is a pleasure to read, but not surprisingly, Jobs wishes you wouldn’t."
--Chicago Sun Times

Fast Company
Great Read. One of the keenest observers of the business and culture of Silicon Valley sets his sights on one of the most remarkable stories in the recent history of Silicon Valley.
Business 2.0
A carefully sketched portrait of a paradoxical man…reads like a novel and has the scope of Ben Hur. And it’s the strangest of high-tech industry books it’s good.
San Francisco Chronicle
Deutschman illuminates the attributes that have made Jobs not only a success but also an influential innovator in two major industries. The Second Coming…includes fascinating details about Jobs…anyone interested in the culture of Silicon Valley should find it well worth a read.
Forbes.com
Deutschman, in a mere 301 pages, rips a hole in Jobs that can only be compared to the fatal tear in the Hindenburg.
Dallas Morning News
A fascinating portrait of the Apple Computer founder…A mesmerizing, outstanding read, this book crackles with energy. Some of the passages will make your mouth drop open.
Chicago Sun Times
Alan Deutschman’s delicious Steve Jobs biography is a psychological profile with a fruit-flavored iMac punch line. The book is a pleasure to read, but not surprisingly, Jobs wishes you wouldn’t.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A revealing, balanced portrait of Apple Computers CEO and founder Steven Jobs, this fast-paced business biography is based on interviews with nearly 100 of his associates and friends. One glaring absence, however, is Jobs himself, who apparently declined to be interviewed by Deutschman, a Vanity Fair contributing editor and staff writer at GQ. Still, Deutschman provides a juicy, privileged look inside the Apple core. He reports that Jobs's recent resuscitation of Apple, to which the visionary entrepreneur returned in 1996 after being ousted by John Sculley a decade earlier, was accomplished through a "reign of terror" that shook up thousands of complacent employees. Like other commentators, Deutschman portrays Jobs as both engaging and troubling, a natural charmer who is also an abusive, egomaniacal boss fond of meting out public humiliations. But Deutschman goes further, replacing the image of the pop-culture icon with a complex, contradictory figure--an insecure elitist who yearns for the patronage of the masses, a narcissistic vegetarian billionaire who thrives on scarcity and adversity. Among the book's revelations are details of Jobs's bulimia-like eating disorders in the 1970s; his reconnection in the '80s with his long-lost biological sister, novelist Mona Simpson (Jobs was given up for adoption at birth); and his explosive negotiations with Disney honchos Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, who produced the hits A Bug's Life and Toy Story with Pixar, Jobs's animation film studio. Though this gossipy bio has a slick magazine feel, Deutschman gets closer to Jobs's inner self than any previous attempt. Agent, Suzanne Gluck, ICM. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
The story of Steve Jobs is a complex one, with dramatic reversals of fortune and rebounds from apparent defeat to the height of success. Deutschman, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Fortune magazine's Silicon Valley correspondent for seven years, has interviewed nearly 100 people, including Jobs's close friends, colleagues, and rivals. The work focuses on Jobs's life and career, from his 1985 exile from Apple Computers (the company he cofounded), through his return to the struggling company 12 years later as acting CEO, to his recent appointment as Apple's chief executive. During his second tenure at Apple, the company experienced a dramatic turnaround, with high profits and the tripling of stock prices. Along the way, Jobs achieved success with his animation studio, Pixar, culminating in the 1995 release of Toy Story. Jobs's personal life and relationships with family and friends are also related. This fascinating study of Jobs and of the inner workings of Pixar and Apple Computers is an important addition to both public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/00].--Lucy Heckman, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
From The Critics
Even the dot-com hype has failed to produce a CEO with the rock-star status of Steve Jobs. Maybe that's not surprising. There really is something elusively compelling about Jobs. He's figured prominently in at least five nonfiction books. A major literary novel is widely assumed to be based on his life. And he was the subject, along with Bill Gates, of a TV miniseries. It's enough to make one wonder at the amount of attention paid to the head of Apple Computer which is, when you get down to it, not a particularly important tech company.

Now along comes Alan Deutschman, a Silicon Valley journalist and Vanity Fair contributing editor, with The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, a book that even prior to publication has succeeded on at least one front: It apparently annoyed its subject a great deal. Jobs reportedly complained to the head of Random House (Broadway Books is one of its imprints) that Deutschman had written a "hatchet job." Vanity Fair canceled plans - apparently rather late in the production cycle - to excerpt the book in its October issue, citing space concerns. Deutschman told the New York Times that, although he has no evidence of it, he believes Jobs pressured the magazine to cancel the story. Naturally the net effect of all this will be to focus more attention on Deutschman's book.

The Second Coming gets under way with Deutschman's observation that the arc to the Jobs story is now something right out of a three-act Hollywood screenplay. We have the rise of the precocious co-founder of Apple, his brutal comeuppance running the ill-fated NeXT, and his unlikely redemption as head of Pixar and a miraculously resuscitated Apple. Jobs is a helpful protagonist, by turns charming and cruel, possessed of a towering ego and, maybe most important, a gift for transcendent rhetoric.

Recently he was in the news touting Apple's newest machine and its iMovie software. Is iMovie good? Is iMovie insanely great? No. IMovie, Jobs declares, "is profound." The software, he says, will "help iMac customers have an emotional experience."

What is Jobs up to when he says things like that? Does he really mean it? Or is it all done for effect? Jobs himself was apparently not willing to take up this or any other question with Deutschman, who instead has based his book on "scores" of interviews with people around Jobs. It's difficult to evaluate these sources, as Deutschman tells us that many insisted on anonymity, and a high number of the attributed quotes in the book come from other journalists or from PR people.

Even so, the raw material of Jobs' life is undeniably interesting, and if you don't know the basic plot points very well, Deutschman's book is a good primer. Jobs rises from the working-class milieu of the family that adopted him, drops out of college and at a fantastically young age co-founds Apple. From the beginning, apparently, he is possessed of irresistible charisma and self-confidence.

There's a pleasant dishiness to this particular retelling. Deutschman dutifully notes that Jobs was "the first businessman as rock star," adding that Jobs would have been Time's Man of the Year if not for his messy personal life, including a daughter born out of wedlock whom he was reluctant to support. (Time's honor went to "the computer" instead.) The author also gives us a peek at Jobs' romantic dalliances with, among others, singer Joan Baez and artist Maya Lin. And he recounts Jobs' reunion with his biological sister, writer Mona Simpson, as well as the subsequent apparent rupture when her novel A Regular Guy seemed to be patterned on Jobs' life.

All this is fun, and probably the source of Jobs' distress over the book, but there isn't much depth to it. Various scenes that turn on Jobs humiliating this or that bit player - playing a mean prank on a small-time computer consultant, telling an unnamed minion that "you've baked a really lovely cake, but then you've used dog shit for frosting" - end up going nowhere. Jobs is referred to as "Steve" throughout the book, and we also meet "Bill" (Gates), "Ross" (Perot), "Scott" (McNealy) and "Ann" (Winblad). This seems meant to imply a familiarity with the subject, but it sounds superficial.

Perhaps it's telling that the book's preface doesn't lay out any particular set of ideas about Jobs that will carry through the ensuing three-act drama. Instead it's a patch-together of scenes and sentences that appear later in the book - which only makes Deutschman's habit of repetition worse. On page 2 we learn that "NeXT was bleeding money, hemorrhaging money"; on page 48 we find that "NeXT was burning through money, bleeding money, hemorrhaging money"; on page 55 it turns out that "the company was bleeding money" and as for Pixar, well, you'll not be surprised to learn on page 121 that it, too, "was bleeding money."

More annoying than repetition is inconsistent repetition: In the preface, "a newspaper reporter" asks Jobs whether layoffs at NeXT mean the company is a failure. "'I don't want to do this interview,' he said softly. He got up and walked away." When the same anecdote crops up again in the book's third chapter, the reporter now works for "a weekly trade magazine"; Jobs delivers the same line, and stands up to go, but this time he doesn't. ("He returned and sat for an interview.")


Nit-picking aside, what does this collection of entertaining anecdotes add up to? In the end, it's hard to tell what Deutschman thinks of his subject. At NeXT, Jobs seems like little more than a spoiled, bullying tyrant who is in way over his head. At Pixar, he is a mere figurehead, most notable for being easily ignored. Yet the book seems willing to give Jobs almost complete credit for the resurgence of Apple, explaining that he cracked down on an undisciplined workforce and conjured up marketing magic.

The book offers an unhelpful good Steve-bad Steve dichotomy and concludes with a string of 10 "opinions and theories" about Jobs and why people might still want to read a book about him ("he's a great enigma") culled from Silicon Valley onlookers. In a final act of desperation, Deutschman quotes his boss: "Steve had what Vanity Fair's editor Graydon Carter liked to call the 'X factor,' a charisma and buzz and fascination that was an invaluable asset for a mogul." Ah, yes - the "X factor."

Almost perfectly empty observations like that are what make The Second Coming of Steve Jobs feel like the sort of quickie bios that get written about rock stars, based largely on the recollections of hangers-on. It's less an explanation of our obsession with Steve Jobs than it is evidence that the obsession persists.

In his 1993 book Steve Jobs and the NeXT Big Thing, Randall Stross concludes that the legendary Apple founder was something of a construct: "The human eye has trouble focusing on the group; it prefers the heroic individual." So if we have to think about Jobs as a rock star, maybe the place to start is with Bob Dylan circa Don't Look Back - a young man who was celebrated not just as a star, but as something of a prophet. Certainly Dylan was very talented, but he was also, like Jobs, of the right place and time to stand as a symbol of something larger. For Jobs, the problem during the period Stross focuses on was that he had come to believe this construct himself. The result was some $250 million hurled down a black hole.

The idea that the public Jobs was at least as much a reflection of his times as a shaper of them is a compelling one - although it does not satisfactorily explain his rise from the ashes of NeXT and his return to the cover of business magazines. Perhaps what Jobs learned in the interim is that success is never inevitable, even for American heroes, and that a CEO is ultimately better off believing in his products' profundity rather than his own.

Business 2.0
...reads like a novel and has the scope of Ben Hur. And it's the strangest of high-tech industry books—it's good.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767904339
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1ST TRADE
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.49 (w) x 8.49 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Deutschman is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. For the past twelve years, he has covered business and technology. He was a correspondent for Fortune for seven years, a senior writer at GQ, and a contributing editor at New York magazine. His articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Premiere, and Fast Company. He lives in San Francisco.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

1

Next

Andrea "Andy" Cunningham was so tired when she got home from work that she went to sleep without checking her answering machine. The following morning, around eight-thirty, she played the tape. The message was short and cryptic: Andy should show up at Steve's house at 10 a.m. for a press conference about his new company, Next.

The idea troubled her. Andy was a public relations consultant, one of the shrewdest and most insightful in the technology business. She wasn't summoned to press conferences as a last-minute thought. She was supposed to be the one who orchestrated the events following weeks of careful preparation, reflection, brainstorming, and strategizing, after thoroughly thinking through the message and exactly how it would be conveyed.

She didn't even know where Steve lived. And besides, he wasn't even her client.

She called around to get the address, then drove the five minutes from Palo Alto to the village of Woodside, which lay in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It was just beyond the Stanford campus. Woodside was not far from the banal concrete sprawl of Silicon Valley but at least it felt isolated and remote, with narrow winding country roads and dozens of bridle paths but no street lamps or sidewalks. Traditionally favored by hillbillies and folksingers, it had more recently become home to a few centimillionaires, who made their money by promoting futuristic visions but, ironically, preferred to live in a semirural hamlet that evoked the romance of a lost era.

A few minutes before ten, Andy pulled through the wrought-iron gate to Steve's house. The gravel driveway was crowded with parked cars. She beheld a sprawling, dilapidated robber baron mansion in the Spanish mission style, that numbingly ubiquitous cliche of California architecture, with the de rigueur stucco walls and the sloping red adobe roofs, like tens of thousands of little anonymous tract houses throughout the valley's brutally cramped suburbs. The difference was that this crumbling monstrosity was large enough to be a real eighteenth-century Spanish mission. It had enough space for an entire order of monks to go about their daily routines.

She passed through the grand arched entrance loggia and came to a huge cavernous living room. Standing around, idle, restless, gossiping among themselves, were twenty reporters Andy knew well. The Business Week correspondent. The Newsweek writer. The reporter from USA Today. They were shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot because there was simply nowhere to sit other than the cold wooden floorboards. The living room was devoid of furniture, barren, austere, unwelcoming, a hollow decaying shell like the rest of the whole empty spooky house, the maze of echo chambers where Steve lived as a solitary bachelor. The closest thing to furnishings was a clear plastic case with an architect's carefully crafted and scaled topographical model of the property--just the lush pure mountainside land, not the presumptuous robber baron manse that Steve had never gotten around to demolishing.

Andy made her way into the kitchen. Still no furniture at all, no tables or chairs, just a few computers strewn across the floor and another bunch of people huddled together. Andy recognized them as refugees from Apple. They had worked with her on the launch of the Macintosh the previous year, in January 1984. Now they were the cofounders of Steve's new company, which was going to do . . . who knew what it would do?

Steve was on his feet, talking about what he was going to tell the reporters.

Screw John Sculley, he was going to say. Screw him!

Screw the Apple board!

We are going to change the world!

Andy was appalled. There was no news for the putative news conference. There was only Steve's impulse to express his anger, his rage, his raw hurt, his need for vindication and healing and honor. He wanted to flail out against the injustices and betrayals he had suffered. It was understandable. It was human. But this wasn't the way to do it, not the time or the place. You don't summon the cynical elite of the West Coast press corps, with their notebooks open and their cassette tapes rolling, to participate in some kind of group therapy session. This wasn't an encounter group or primal scream or gestalt or est, it wasn't some kind of 1970s Californian human-potential seminar; this was business.

At first Andy didn't recognize the man sitting on the floor right beside Steve, though she quickly surmised that this was Steve's new lawyer. He was visibly starstruck, comically awed, his mouth agape, his eyes glazed by the proximity to celebrity. He clearly wasn't in the proper state of mind to offer cautious advice. No one was telling Steve what should have been obvious, a matter of the simplest common sense. No one would confront the legendary figure and play the necessary role of tough naysayer.

Well, Andy thought, I have nothing to lose. I haven't even signed the account.

"I don't think this is a good idea," she told them flatly. Apple was suing Steve and his apostates, accusing them of stealing secrets. And they had no legal strategy for defending themselves. It wasn't going to help win public opinion if Steve treated the reporters to an impassioned tirade against Apple.

She looked at Steve with seeming disbelief at his rashness and thoughtlessness.

"Why did you let all these journalists know where you live?" she wondered aloud.

***

In the summer of 1985, when Steve Jobs was stripped of power at the company he cofounded, when his office was moved to a vacant building he called Siberia, he didn't know what to do. He was thirty years old, and he owned more than $100 million worth of Apple stock. He didn't have to work, not for the money, at least, and not for the fame. He had appeared on the cover of Time and had accepted the National Technology Award at the White House. His niche in economic history was already secure as the preeminent popularizer of the personal computer. His mention in American cultural history was certain as well. In an era when commerce was equated with conformity, when industry was seen as the staid and soulless province of balding older men, he was an unprecedented phenom. He was a businessman posing as an idealistic revolutionary, striving for social change. He was a capitalist who appropriated the rhetoric of the commune where he had lived. He was a barefooted chairman of the board who took his girlfriend to Grateful Dead concerts and quoted an entire verse of Bob Dylan lyrics at a shareholders meeting. He was a "young industrialist," as he preferred to call himself, an epithet that sounded delightfully unlikely. He was a pop-culture icon, a media hero, a role model, a sex symbol, and teen heartthrob.

Born at the midpoint of the postwar baby boom, Steve Jobs was one of the most enduring symbols of his generation, reflecting all of its virtues and failings and self-delusions. He was the figure who turned business leaders into rock stars, objects of public fascination. And like so many actual rock stars, he could have quit, or faded, after a brief, spectacular career.

Steve told his closest friends that he was thinking of cultivating his garden. He wasn't alluding to Voltaire's famous line. He didn't mean it in the metaphorical sense of exploring his own mind and spirit rather than trying to change the world. He had already explored his mind and spirit in a whirlwind of eclectic experimentation in his late teens and early twenties, when he dabbled in bizarre diets and Eastern mystics and rural communes and primal screams and hallucinogenic drugs. For that matter, he had already changed the world. No, he was thinking of cultivating his garden in the literal sense: he would devote his extraordinary intelligence and his frighteningly intense energy and his unremitting aesthetic perfectionism to planting flowers on his eight-acre plot. Rather than the finale of Candide, his scenario was more like a chapter from Atlas Shrugged, in which the world's most brilliant industrialists drop out of a society that scorns their genius; as a weird act of protest, they apply their heroic talents to conspicuously trivial endeavors. Perhaps a select few friends would eventually have the privilege of visiting his private garden, and they would think: What artistry! What unique creativity! If only those damn fools had let him keep on making truly useful things for the good of millions upon millions of people!

At times he would lay around the house, abject, depressed. One of his closest colleagues, Mike Murray, feared that Steve would kill himself. When Steve emerged from his funk, he pondered all kinds of escapist notions. He thought of asking NASA if he could fly on one of the space shuttles, maybe as soon as the following year on the Challenger. He visited Moscow, where he suspected that the television repairman who came to his hotel room unsolicited, for no apparent reason, was actually some kind of spy. Nonetheless, he considered living in Cold War Russia and promoting computers in the Soviet schools for Mikhail Gorbachev. He talked with shadowy behind-the-scenes political consultants about making a bid for a Senate seat in California. He approached the architect I. M. Pei with the idea of building a perfect new house on the Woodside property once he tore down the robber baron embarrassment. They got as far as making the scale model of the land. Impulsively he ran away to Europe, bicycled through Tuscany. He telephoned one of his loyalists at Apple, Susan Barnes, and said that he had to cancel their dinner plans for that evening because he wasn't in California, he was in the south of France, and he was thinking about staying and living there as an expatriate, assuming the pose of an alienated artist. Barnes listened and cried.

He suffered his midlife crisis at thirty and compressed it into three months, an overachiever even at personal trauma. He spent the summer flirting with romanticized notions of self-imposed exile, but ultimately he wasn't able to resist the siren of public life. For all his accomplishments and fame, he still hadn't fully proven himself, not to his own satisfaction and not to the world.

No one denied that Apple's rise was aided immeasurably by his astonishing energy and persuasiveness and charisma and chutzpah (a word that he loved). And it was his personality that created the company's culture and mystique. He was the media sensation. But from the early days Apple was actually run by older and more experienced businessmen, who were put in place first by the financial backers and later by the board of directors. Steve was allowed to head a renegade division, not the whole company. He never had the authority to approve expenditures of more than $250,000. He could buy a Bssendorfer grand piano for his team of engineers or fill up the office refrigerators with freshly squeezed fruit juices, but he couldn't build a new factory or create a new computer without arduously lobbying for approval from other men. When he had wanted to try something spectacular, like risking $20 million in an effort to build a radically flat computer screen, the Apple board lacked confidence in him and rejected his plans.

By 1985 he hadn't proven that he could thrive as the chief executive officer of an important corporation. Nor had he proven that he could repeat his initial success and show the skeptics that it wasn't just a lucky accident of time and place, a once-in-a-lifetime historical fluke. His latest creation, the Macintosh, was greatly admired by the technocracy and attracted a small cultlike following on college campuses, but it seemed doomed to remain a commercial flop. Apple had optimistically projected sales of fifty thousand Macintoshes a month in 1985. The actual sales fell to five thousand a month, a pitifully low figure, an embarrassment. Wall Street blamed Steve for the financial failure of the ballyhooed machine; when he was ousted, the stock price rose. To the outside world it looked as though he had been fired by John Sculley, the executive he had recruited to run Apple. Their falling-out was incredibly painful, a "divorce," as Steve told his friends. Before the split he had never felt so close to another person as he had felt to John, he said, but now he understood what divorce must feel like.

The rift with Apple's board member Mike Markkula was also wrenching. Markkula had been something of a father figure to him. When Apple was still in Steve's garage, Markkula had invested his own money in the company and helped write the business plan. Now, Steve told his friends, Markkula was bullying him, trying to scare him off, threatening to put him in prison for leaving Apple and supposedly stealing its technology.

Steve needed vindication. He openly ached to show that his vision of the future of computing was correct, that Apple's board was wrong for pushing him aside, that he could change the world again. He left Apple with his cool hundred million, his "fuck-you money," an expression he loved. And now, in September 1985, with the press assembled in his living room, he had the uncensored raw urge to say "fuck you" to Apple.

Andy Cunningham entered his kitchen and talked him out of it.

For her good advice, she received the most dubious of rewards: she was the one who had to go out there and try to tell the impatient reporters that the speech was off.

***

Apple Computer began in a tract house; Next Computer was founded in a mansion a few miles away. In the early days of Apple, Steve would play Bob Dylan tunes on his guitar in the backyard while his mother, Clara, washed his baby nephew in the kitchen sink. They had the luxury of beginning in obscurity. During the early days of Next, in September 1985, his cofounders lounged on the lawn behind the mansion, reading about themselves in Newsweek. They were on the cover of the Asian edition, which they'd had specially delivered to the house. They had been slated for the American cover, too, but they were knocked off by the devastating 8.1-magnitude earthquake in Mexico.

On the early autumn days they would get some sun and then go back inside and dial away at their Rolodexes. During the daytime they would venture out without Steve to look at office spaces. This way the landlords wouldn't recognize their fabulously wealthy proprietor and raise the lease rates. They had to sneak Steve in at night to see the buildings. They considered making a deal with the Catholic archdiocese to take over an abandoned monastery not far from the Apple campus. The building, with its gracefully proportioned bell tower rising above a straw-colored pasture, looked like it belonged in Tuscany. Working there would have been a nicely ironic twist in Steve's personal history, since he had thought of entering a monastery (albeit a Zen Buddhist one in Japan) instead of starting Apple. Finally they rented a small structure of concrete and glass on Deer Park Road, a secluded stretch of the voluptuous Stanford hills. They would be surrounded by the scenic undeveloped open land where Steve loved to walk, where he had spent hour after hour walking with Sculley. In the divorce Sculley kept Apple, but Steve was claiming possession of the Stanford hills.

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Table of Contents

Preface ..... 1
Chapter 1: Next ..... 9
Chapter 2: Pixar ..... 85
Chapter 3: Crises ..... 125
Chapter 4: Comeback ..... 189
Chapter 5: Apple ..... 229
Chapter 6: Being steve ..... 281
Acknowledgments ..... 303
Index ..... 307
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2000

    The Real Steve

    I've lived in the midst of Silicon Valley for four years, and as a former tech reporter, I have to say this is the best dirt on Steve Jobs that I have ever read. Having covered Jobs at his most charismatic -- on stage touting Apple products -- I'll admit it's easy to be seduced by his charm, by the popsicle-colored iMacs, whimsical Think Different commercials, and by general Mac-mania. Many publications have covered just that side of things. But I've also heard the occasional strange rumor that hints at a Jobs different from 'interim' CEO persona. Here, finally, someone took the time to do the extensive homework and piece together a portrait of the *real* Steve Jobs. I have no idea how the author got people to tell him all these great anecdotes, but he did (including Jobs' make-out sessions in the lobby of his own company and the real story behind Pixar), and it's a fun read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2008

    Just Part of a Dirty Attempt to Take Apple Away from Jobs Again.

    Steve Jobs is a deceptively profound and creative innovator. I dont think anyone like him ever existed in the electronics or any other engineering field. He CREATED the PC revolution. Not Woz, or Gates, or Kleinrock, or Raskin, or Akers or any CEO of any computer company or any university professor. He designed, that's right designed, the best PC, the best Operating System, the best MP3 Player, the best animation tool, the best... His position is unassailable. The question people should be asking is 'How does Steve do it?' Understanding his background and his beliefs explains much of this. There is clearly a move afoot to dethrone Steve and steal his jewel again by the same greedy species who did it the first time. Uncomprehending, egotistical neanderthals who don't have a clue what Apple is about and are completely at a loss to explain its unending string of successes. I have worked in the computer field for several decades and can tell you that its the rest of us who are living in a 'reality distorted world', like the CEOs of the numerous computer companies who dont exist anymore, and not Steve Jobs. His Buddhist bent has placed him firmly in Truth and Reality, and most other people here outside it. The author of this book has absolutely no idea what is going on or who Steve REALLY is. If Steve was as bad as he tries to depict him to be, we would not have had the Mac or the iPod.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2001

    Great Book!

    This has to be the best book on Steve Jobs I have ever read. A must have for any Mac Addict. This book shows the readers how Steve felt after being kicked out of Apple and how Steve felt when Apple came crawling back to him!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2000

    Like a 200+ page magazine article

    The book has some interesting info on how Pixar came to be.... but beyond that, it is simply an extremely elongated and poorly edited magazine article. The professional review from The Standard (above on this page) explains well some of the problems with this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 6 Customer Reviews

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