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Entries in Steve Jobs (3)


John Sculley on Steve Jobs

Leander Kahney has a terrific interview with John Sculley, Steve Jobs’s partner-turned-nemesis at Apple Computer in the early and mid 1980’s. A very conciliatory Sculley talks about Jobs as design fanatic, business strategist, and teacher.

If you go back to the Apple II, Steve was the first one to put a computer into a plastic case, which was called ABS plastic in those days, and actually put the keyboard into the computer. It seems like a pretty simple idea today, looking back at it, but even at the time when he created the first Apple II, in 1977 — that was the beginning of the Jobs methodology.

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The Mac team they were all in one building and they eventually got to one hundred people. Steve had a rule that there could never be more than one hundred people on the Mac team. So if you wanted to add someone you had to take someone out. And the thinking was a typical Steve Jobs observation: “I can’t remember more than a hundred first names so I only want to be around people that I know personally. So if it gets bigger than a hundred people, it will force us to go to a different organization structure where I can’t work that way. The way I like to work is where I touch everything.” Through the whole time I knew him at Apple that’s exactly how he ran his division.

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Great advertising comes from great clients. The best creative people want to work for the best clients. If you are a client who doesn’t appreciate great work, or a client who won’t take risks and try new stuff, or a client who can’t get excited about the creative, then you’re the wrong kind of client.

Most big companies delegate it way down in the organization. The CEO rarely knows anything about the advertising except when it’s presented, when it’s all done. That’s not how we did it at Pepsi, not how we did it at Apple, and I’m sure it’s not how Steve does it now. He [was] always adamantly involved in the advertising, the design and everything.

 Full interview here.


Steve Jobs thinks different, 1997

During most of the production of Toy Story, Pixar’s CEO and owner Steve Jobs saw little reason to expect great things of the film or his money-draining company. Indeed, he tried, and failed, to sell to Microsoft.

After the film’s very successful release, however—Toy Story was the highest-grossing film of 1995—Jobs began thinking big. He renegotiated Pixar’s deal with the Walt DIsney Co. to make Pixar an equal partner in financing the films and collecting the profits. His audacious goal was to make Pixar as strong a brand in moviegoing as Disney’s. 

Over the previous six decades since the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, others had tried to challenge Disney’s supremacy in feature animation. None had come close. 

A mere six decades of history was not the sort of thing to shake Jobs’s confidence. He laid out his vision in his letter to shareholders in the Pixar’s 1996 annual report (issued in mid-1997):  

We believe there are only two significant brands in the film industry—“Disney” and “Steven Spielberg”. We would like to establish “Pixar” as the third. Successful brands are a reflection of consumer trust, which is earned over time by consumers’ positive experiences with the brand’s products. For example, parents trust Disney-branded animated films to provide satisfying and appropriate family entertainment, based on Disney’s undisputed track record of making wonderful animated films. This trust benefits both parents and Disney: it makes the selection of family entertainment that much easier for parents, and it allows Disney to more easily and assuredly draw audiences to see their new films. Over time we want Pixar to grow into a brand that embodies the same level of trust as the Disney brand.

(The letter was available on the Pixar web site until Disney—thoroughly defeated by Pixar in feature animation—acquired the company in 2006.)



Macintosh's 25th Birthday

Twenty-five years ago today, a bowtied Steve Jobs let the Macintosh out of the bag at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, California. The machine embodied the talents of top Apple engineers, whom Jobs had persuaded to work 90-hour weeks on the project in the hope of building something great. Another crucial ingredient was the user-interface innovations created by Alan Kay’s group at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. Lastly, there was Jobs’s own near-maniacal perfectionism. All this came together and the result was lightning.

Jobs’s showmanship is on display in this video of the unveiling. Also, this 1984 Macintosh brochure is a terrific example of marketing a highly sophisticated product to consumers in an engaging and approachable way.

Two years later, Jobs would be out of Apple … and signing a check for a little computer graphics hardware company called Pixar. In writing The Pixar Touch, I really liked the fact that Jobs’s background with Apple gave me the excuse to write a little about the history of personal computers, which he had done so much to shape by that time.