Sunday, October 24, 2010

Life as Steve Jobs' boss

Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the All Things Digital conference, Tuesday, June 01, 2010.

Prof. John Kay wrote in his Financial Times column in Oct 2008 that John Sculley was chief executive of Apple from 1983 to 1993. He gave an extended account of his experiences to Fortune magazine, which posed the question: “Sculley – chump or champ?”

Sculley’s tenure included a period of great success - - Apple’s graphical user interface brought the present computer within the capabilities of everyone; and a period of serious failure -- Microsoft achieved almost complete dominance of the industry. How could one man have been both so right and so wrong?

Prof. Kay said the analysis overlooked the obvious answer - - that neither Apple’s success nor its failure had much to do with Sculley, an able corporate bureaucrat who rode the roller-coaster of high technology.

He said by describing Napoleon’s Russian campaign through the eyes of individual participants, Leo Tolstoy rejected the notion of history as the lives of great men. Of the battle of Borodino, he wrote: “It was not Napoleon who directed the course of the battle, for none of his orders was carried out and during the battle he did not know what was going on.”

On September 12, 1985 Steve Jobs stood up at an Apple board meeting and after years of internal political turmoil and power struggles, said in an unemotional voice, "I've been thinking a lot and it's time for me to get on with my life. It's obvious that I've got to do something. I'm thirty years old."

He returned to the company he co-founded in 1997.

John Sculley has given an interview on working with Steve Jobs:

Steve had this perspective that always started with the user's experience; and that industrial design was an incredibly important part of that user impression. He recruited me to Apple because he believed the computer was eventually going to become a consumer product. That was an outrageous idea back in the early 1980s. He felt the computer was going to change the world, and it was going to become what he called "the bicycle for the mind."

The one Steve admired was Sony. We used to go visit Akio Morita, and he had really the same kind of high-end standards that Steve did and respect for beautiful products. I remember Akio Morita gave Steve and me each one of the first Sony Walkmans. None of us had ever seen anything like that before, because there had never been a product like that. This is 25 years ago, and Steve was fascinated by it. The first thing he did with his was take it apart, and he looked at every single part. How the fit and finish was done, how it was built.

Apple became the leader of the mobile music market with the success of the iPod digital music, which was launched in 2001 .

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Being Steve Job's Boss, Oct 2010

John Kay, Oct 2008: Could Napoleon have coped in a credit crunch?

Finfacts article, May 2010: Apple overtakes Microsoft as the world's most valuable technology company

Finfacts article, Oct 2010: Apple posts 70% surge in quarterly earnings eclipsing profit reported by IBM

Bloomberg Game Changers: Steve Jobs - - VIDEO: Through interviews with friends, former colleagues and business associates, GAME CHANGERS reveals the many layers of the intensely private Steve Jobs - his style of leadership, management and creative process. Interviews include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, former Apple CEO John Scully, journalist turned Venture Capitalist Michael Moritz, Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, former Apple "Mac Evangelist" and Silicon Valley Entrepreneur, Guy Kawasaki and Robert X.Cringely, technology journalist and former Apple employee.