Apple (Tech30) executives have praised the book in recent weeks, calling it a more accurate portrayal of Jobs’ character than Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs,” which was written with input from Jobs himself.,
The latest biography is based on interviews with Jobs’ long-time associates and top Apple executives, including current CEO Tim Cook.
The picture that emerges, according to published excerpts and a short description of the book, is of a visionary and demanding leader who was not as selfish or arrogant as he had been previously characterized.
“[Jobs] cared deeply about things,” Cook is quoted as saying in the new book. “Yes, he was very passionate about things, and he wanted things to be perfect. And that was what was great about him.”
“And a lot of people mistook that passion for arrogance,” said Cook. “He wasn’t a saint. I’m not saying that. None of us are. But it’s emphatically untrue that he wasn’t a great human being.”
The magazine Fast Company, where Tetzeli is an executive editor, has published several excerpts from the book in recent days detailing new information about Jobs’ life and Apple’s history. Here are a few:
1. Jobs’ favorite iTunes feature. Given what we know about Jobs’ experimentation with LSD, this may not be a big surprise.
When Apple introduced iTunes in 2001, Jobs said his favorite thing about the digital music platform was the “psychedelic ‘visualizer’ feature that generated trippy, colorful, abstract moving full-screen images derived from whatever music was playing.”
2. “F–k Neil Young.” Steve Jobs once had some choice words for Neil Young.
The classic rock icon had criticized the sound quality of digital music, saying it was inferior to the analog recordings of Young’s era.
Young offered to send Jobs a set of his recordings on vinyl, but Jobs would have none of it.
“F–k Neil Young,” Jobs said when he heard the offer, according to the book. “And f–k his records. You keep them.”
3. Stanford speech almost didn’t happen. Jobs delivered his famous commencement speech at Stanford in 2005. However, a string of mishaps almost prevented it from happening.
First, Jobs couldn’t find the keys to his SUV. His wife, Laurene, agreed to drive him, along with their three children.
When they finally reached Stanford, a police officer turned them away, saying the parking lot was full.
“You don’t understand,” Laurene says in the book. “I have the commencement speaker here. He’s right here in the car. Really!”
The officer took one look at Jobs, who was wearing his usual tattered jeans, Birkenstocks and black T-shirt.
“Really?” the officer said, raising her eyebrows. “Which one?”
Everyone in the car burst out laughing and Jobs chimed in: “Really,” Jobs said, raising his hand. “It’s me.”
4. Design guru feared for his job. When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, Jony Ive was convinced that he would be out of a job.
Ive recalls that he first met Jobs at a time when the newly reinstated CEO was on a mission to shrink Apple’s product lineup.
“He came over to the studio, I think, essentially to fire me,” Ive says in the book.
Instead, Ive went on to become Apple’s lead designer and Jobs would later call him “kind of a cherub.”
5. CEO Tim Cook offered a piece of his liver. In 2009, when Steve Jobs was in his final years, dying of cancer, Tim Cook offered his boss a piece of his liver.
Cook, concerned about Jobs’ frail condition, went to get his blood tested, according to the biography. It turned out that Cook was a match and could donate Jobs a piece of his liver. The transfer had a high likelihood of success for both patients.
But Jobs refused, according to the book.
“‘He cut me off at the legs, almost before the words were out of my mouth,’ said Cook. ‘No,’ he said. ‘I’ll never let you do that. I’ll never do that.'”
Cook called Jobs’ decision to refuse his liver unselfish.
“Steve only yelled at me four or five times during the 13 years I knew him, and this was one of them,” Cook said.
6. Jobs told Disney CEO of his cancer half an hour before the Pixar announcement. In 2006, Jobs told the DisneyCEO Robert Iger that his cancer was back and he had “a fifty-fifty chance of living five years.”
Jobs confided this in Iger half an hour before Disney and Apple were set to announce the $7.4 billion sale of Pixar to Disney.
“My kids don’t know. Not even the Apple board knows. Nobody knows, and you can’t tell anybody,” Iger remembers Jobs telling him.
Iger said Jobs gave him the chance to back out of the deal, which ultimately went through. It was the beginning of a close relationship. At one point, Jobs and Iger discussed buying Yahoo together. Later, Iger turned down the chance to join Google’s board because he knew it would make Jobs jealous.