From: Adam Rifkin (Adam@KnowNow.Com)
Date: Wed Oct 11 2000 - 01:53:30 PDT
From the "A players hire A players, yadda yadda yadda" department:
My favorite five lines from below:
5. "The reign of terror was beginning to work. Apple had long been like
a civil-service bureaucracy, with thousands of entrenched employees who did
pretty much whatever they wanted regardless of which political appointees
were temporarily at the top. Now that was changing. People started to
realize that Steve could assert his authority over seemingly any aspect of
the company's life."
4. "He comes in with a very strong will and you sign up or get out of
the way. "
3. "Steve would occasionally upbraid people if they didn't seem to
realize the urgency of the situation."
2. "Or was he pissed off by the DaveNet column?"
1. "The reality was that Steve's summary executions were rare, but a
handful of victims is enough to terrorize a whole company. "
The once and future Steve Jobs
How the comeback kid remade Apple -- from the "Think Different" campaign to
a "loose lips sink ships" reign of terror.
Editor's note: The following are selected excerpts from Alan Deutschman's
new biography, "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs."
By Alan Deutschman
Oct. 11, 2000 | On Sept. 16, 1997, Steve Jobs announced that he would serve
as Apple's "interim CEO." He moved into a conspicuously small office, close
to the boardroom. He inherited Gil Amelio's secretary, Vicki, and told her
that he didn't like the pens that Apple kept in stock. He would only write
with a certain type of Pilot pen, which he proclaimed was "the best."
He took to walking around the Apple campus barefoot in cutoff shorts and a
black shirt. One day he accosted Jim Oliver, a Wharton Ph.D. who had been
"What do you do here?" Steve demanded.
"I'm wrapping things up."
"You mean that in a while you won't have a job?" Steve shot back. "Well,
good, because I need someone to do some grunt work."
What a strange way to motivate people, Jim thought. Then again, it was a
chance to work for a legendary figure.
It turned out that the "grunt work" would give Jim a close-up view of
Steve's deliberations about how to save Apple. The job was to take notes at
the meetings where Steve would review every part of the company and decide
what to keep and what to kill.
The gatherings were held in the boardroom, which was in the only high-rise
office building on the low-slung campus. It had a panoramic view of the
expanse of Silicon Valley. Steve would call in the head of a product team
and all of its key players. Anywhere from a dozen people to three dozen
would crowd around the long wooden table. They had to show Steve all of
their existing products and expound in detail about their future plans. If
they made physical products, like monitors, they had to bring models of
their upcoming lines. If they wrote software, they had to run Steve through
the features of their programs.
Steve's attitude wasn't confrontational. He wanted to absorb a vast amount
of information before he took action. Still, there was always an
undercurrent of tension, and Steve would occasionally upbraid people if
they didn't seem to realize the urgency of the situation. Gil had made
extensive cuts, but Steve was going to cut a lot more. Steve said that he
would keep only the great products and the profitable products. If
something were unprofitable but strategic, its managers would have to argue
for its continued existence.
During the first review meeting with a group, Steve would listen and
absorb. In the second meeting, he would ask a series of difficult and
provocative questions. "If you had to cut half your products, what would
you do?" he would ask. He would also take a positive tack: "If money were
no object, what would you do?"
The series of group meetings helped Steve to get to know hundreds of people
at Apple. And once he knew the players, he would deal with them directly.
He had total disregard for the hierarchical chain of command. He would
remember what several hundred people did and call on whomever he needed,
always bypassing their managers. It was as though everyone in the company
reported directly to Steve himself. "Steve has the ability to buffer so
much in his head," Jim Oliver explains. "He can remember the last
conversation and the last e-mail exchange that he had with 300 people."
He put especially intense pressure on the top executives. He tormented
Heidi Roizen with constant calls to her office phone, home phone, cellphone
and pager, starting at 7 a.m. almost every day. She was so unnerved by his
interrogations and his frequent tirades that she decided the only way to
preserve her mental health was to ignore his calls. She tried to
communicate with him only by e-mail, which enabled her to consider the
issues calmly and rationally, unaffected by the irresistible force of his
compelling live presence.
Heidi talked with Bill Campbell, whom Steve had named to Apple's board of
directors. Bill was a bona fide tough guy, a former college football coach,
but he confessed that he, too, was unnerved by Steve's constant phone calls.
"Do what I do," she advised him. "Don't answer the phone."
"That's what my wife said. I tried that. But then Steve would come over to
my house. He lives only three blocks away."
"Don't answer the door."
"I tried that. But my dog sees him and goes berserk."
In his first month as "interim CEO," Steve began walking around the office
carrying a sleekly curved piece of white foam. It was the model for the
size and shape of a computer, which would eventually become known as the
"iMac," for "internet Macintosh." It was the creation of Jonathan Ive, who
was 30 and looked more like a scruffy bicycle messenger or skateboarder
than the chief designer at a major manufacturer of consumer products.
While the physical look of the iMac had been conceived before Steve took
over, everything else about the computer was still uncertain. Steve's
thinking was strongly influenced by his friendship with Larry Ellison as
well as their unspoken rivalry. He believed the future belonged to
stripped-down machines, called "network computers," or NCs, that would
connect to the Internet and cost only half as much as PCs. Larry had even
started his own company, Network Computer Inc., to try to cash in on the idea.
Steve decided that the iMac would be a network computer. "We're going to
beat Ellison at his own game," he told his Apple colleagues, who were
surprised to see Steve secretly delighting in the competition with his best
- - - - - - - - - - - -
In September, Steve began taking decisive action. Gil had cut the number of
research and development projects from 350 to 50. Steve cut it from 50 to
about 10. Instead of hoping for some stunning technical breakthrough that
would save the company, Steve looked instead at improving Apple's
advertising and restoring its cool, hip image. He invited three ad agencies
to pitch for Apple's business, including Chiat/Day, which had created the
famous "1984" television commercial during Steve's first run at Apple.
Chiat/Day still had the same creative director from the "1984" campaign,
Lee Clow, who came to Cupertino and proposed a new slogan: "Think Different."
"That's not grammatical," thought Jim Oliver as he sat there taking notes
for Steve. But no one in the room had the guts to say so.
Lee Clow said that the comeback of Harley-Davidson motorcycles was a good
model for Apple to emulate. Harley's advertising convinced people that they
could feel its renegade spirit even if they were investment bankers rather
than Hells Angels. It rehabilitated a counterculture icon for the baby
boomers who had grown up and sold out.
That's exactly what Apple needed to do.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Apple's new advertising campaign came together quickly.
Steve had always liked photos of cultural icons. At his first house in Los
Gatos, Calif., near his mattress, he had kept pictures of Albert Einstein
and an Eastern mystical guru. Steve also loved black-and-white photography.
He hung Ansel Adams prints at the Palo Alto, Calif., house. Those were the
elements: the slogan, the icons, the monochrome tableaux.
The first outsider to see the new ads was Newsweek's Katie Hafner. She
arrived at Apple's headquarters at 10 on a Friday morning for an interview
with Steve. He kept her waiting a long time. Finally he emerged. His chin
was covered by stubble. He was exhausted from having stayed up all night
editing footage for the "Think Different" television spot. The creative
directors at Chiat/Day would send him video clips over a satellite
connection, and he would say yes or no. Now the montage was finally complete.
Steve sat with Katie and they watched the commercial.
Steve was crying.
"That's what I love about him," Katie recalls. "It wasn't trumped up. Steve
was genuinely moved by that stupid ad."
On Sept. 30, 1997, Steve assembled Apple's employees for an outdoor party
-- with beer and strictly vegetarian cuisine -- to celebrate the new campaign.
He explained that Apple's ads were going to convey an image and an attitude
rather than simply describing a product. As a model, he talked about how
Nike's ads projected a sense of athleticism and success without even
showing its shoes.
"Apple spends $100 million a year on advertising," Steve said, "and it
hadn't done us much good." They were going to continue spending $100
million a year, but now they were going to spend it better, he said,
because now they realized that the Apple brand was one of the most valuable
things they had going for them.
One of the employees in the audience was a young woman named Kate Adams. It
was the first time she had seen Steve speak close up, and she was very
excited. "It was a good -- no, great -- speech, delivered in a 'I might
sound like I'm musing but I'm damned sure of what I'm saying' tone," she
wrote in an e-mail message to a friend.
Her friend turned out to be a software entrepreneur, Dave Winer, who wrote
DaveNet, a column that he e-mailed to hundreds of the most influential
people in the industry, including CEOs like Bill Gates and Michael Dell. To
Kate's surprise, Dave published her e-mail in its entirety: a long,
detailed account of Steve's talk.
The next day, Kate received a voice-mail message.
"Hi, this is Steve Jobs. I'd like to get together and chat with you."
Steve's voice sounded cheerful. What did he want? Was this some management
theory of his, calling random midlevel employees and picking their brains
for a while? Or was he pissed off by the DaveNet column?
Kate called Steve's secretary and made an appointment. She didn't sleep
well that night. The next morning at 10 she entered Steve's office. He was
in the corner, typing on his Next computer. Steve relied on three
computers, and none of them was a Macintosh. He had black Next machines at
his home and office and a Toshiba Tecra as his notebook.
With his back turned away from her, Steve waved and told her to sit down.
Kate eyed a pile of "Think Different" T-shirts as she waited for four minutes.
Steve turned to her.
"Hi, how ya doing?" he said amiably. Then he held up a printout of her
message. "Can you tell me what this is?"
Steve had "sniffing" software that could screen and search his employees'
"I was encouraged by your talk, and I just wanted to tell my friend Dave."
"You realize this is the kind of thing that can be published?" he asked.
"Well, it already has," she said.
"Do you realize this $100 million figure is proprietary?" he continued. His
tone was serious and confrontational but not outright hostile.
As she was walking out, he said: "By the way, what do you do in the
"I'm on the engineering team," she said.
She escaped. She knew that if she had said "marketing," she would have been
fired. He still needed Apple's engineers, but he had no respect for its
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Before Steve's takeover, Apple people loved to leak. They did so partly
because the company really did have lackluster marketing. If you were proud
of your work, the only way to let other people in the industry know about
it was to leak it yourself. A number of Web sites, like "Mac OS Rumors,"
were devoted exclusively to Apple gossip.
Steve insisted on his old "loose lips sink ships" policy. At first the
employees were incensed. Before long, though, they began to trust Steve to
do Apple's marketing for them.
Still, the Apple rank-and-file remained fearful of the Bad Steve persona.
Word got around about Steve going into meetings, saying, "This is shit,"
and firing people on the spot. People worried about getting trapped with
him in an elevator for a few seconds, afraid that they might not have a job
when the doors opened. The reality was that Steve's summary executions were
rare, but a handful of victims is enough to terrorize a whole company.
For a while there was an elevator in Steve's building that had protective
coverings on its walls because construction was going on, and someone said:
"This must be Steve's elevator since it's padded." Another employee
responded: "Is it for him or for us?"
Apple needed some kind of shake-up. It was filled with people who had
virtually ignored and ultimately outlasted three CEOs as they did their own
things. "I don't know if the previous CEOs at Apple had any effect on that
company," says John Warnock of Adobe, which is Apple's biggest software
provider. "We would have meetings with all those CEOs and nothing would
happen, no traction, unless the group responsible went for the idea. The
energy just dissipated into the organization, where the first person
capable to make a decision is the one who makes it. But with Steve, he
comes in with a very strong will and you sign up or get out of the way. You
have to run Apple that way -- very direct, very forceful. You can't do it
casually. When Steve attacks a problem, he attacks it with a vengeance. I
think he mellowed during the Next years and he's not so mellow anymore."
Before Steve's takeover, the campus had a leisurely atmosphere. Staffers
loved to hang around smoking and chatting in the courtyard of the R&D
complex, which always had ashtrays stocked at the outside and inside doors
of all six of its buildings. Some employees seemed to spend most of their
time throwing Frisbees to their dogs on the lawns.
Steve enforced new rules. He decreed that there would be no smoking
anywhere on the Apple property. Then he banned dogs on campus, ostensibly
because canines were messy and some people were allergic to them.
The employees were outraged: Why didn't Steve understand them? Smoking in
the courtyard was how they networked with their colleagues from other
departments. It was a vital form of communications! Steve's prohibitionism
forced them to take long walks to De Anza Boulevard so they would be off
the Apple property. It wasted a lot of time.
And their dogs were essential to productivity, too. A lot of people worked
very long hours at Apple, even nights and weekends. They were hardly ever
home. If they couldn't care for and feed their dogs at the office, they
would never get to see the pets.
It seemed as though Steve were pushing his own lifestyle on 10,000 others.
At a company meeting, someone asked Steve what he thought was the worst
thing about Apple.
"The cafeteria," Steve said.
Steve proceeded to replace the entire food-service staff. He hired the chef
from Il Fornaio in Palo Alto. Before long, tofu was prominent in the menu
And yet, somehow, the reign of terror was beginning to work. Apple had long
been like a civil-service bureaucracy, with thousands of entrenched
employees who did pretty much whatever they wanted regardless of which
political appointees were temporarily at the top. Now that was changing.
People started to realize that Steve could assert his authority over
seemingly any aspect of the company's life. Apple was going to follow the
vision of a single person, from the no-smoking rules and the healthy
cuisine to the editing of the TV advertisements. Steve was clearly in
charge, and Steve was seemingly everywhere.
# of people on the internet by 1990 / # by 2000 is a small fraction. Installed base will kill you in linear markets and liberate you in exponential ones :-) -- Rohit Khare
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Oct 11 2000 - 02:02:16 PDT