Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Meeting Gil Amelio, the Apple CEO before Steve Jobs Returned

I saw a very funny article about what Steve Jobs thought of Gil Amelio, who was CEO at Apple when Jobs returned.  The article quotes from the upcoming biography written by Walter Isaacson. Jobs had an extremely low opinion of Amelio and there was a funny exchange between Larry Ellison and Jobs about Amelio in the book.

I had a brief encounter with Gil Amelio while working for the World Economic Forum in Davos in 1995.  Amelio came to speak to a small gathering, and while he spoke, he sweated through his shirt, and repeatedly scratched his chest, almost as if he had a nervous tick.  It was difficult to watch, and gave off the impression that he simply didn't have the command you'd expect from someone in the role he had.

Being the eternal optimistic, I stored this memory away in the "if he can be CEO, then there's hope for me" file.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

My Encounter with Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs' passing reminds me of an encounter I had with the man back in business school circa 1994. I was a member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business High Tech Club, and Steve Jurvetson was President of the club.  He had Jobs come to his house in Los Altos Hills to give a talk to students.  I covered the talk for the Reporter, the GSB's student newspaper.  Jobs had not yet rejoined Apple at this point, and Jurvey brought in a contemporary Mac keyboard for Jobs to autograph with a Sharpie.  Jobs looked at the keyboard with disdain, as it had a whole row of function keys, much like a PC keyboard.  Without hesitating, Jobs said to Jurvey, "Do you use these keys? Really, do they serve any purpose at all?" Jobs didn't wait for an answer.  He said to Jurvey, "I'll sign this keyboard if I can have these keys." We were all stunned, unsure what he really meant.  Jobs proceeded to take out his car keys and began popping out the function keys one at a time.  While doing so, he said to anyone that was listening, "Changing the world, one keyboard at a time."

This story is true, word for word.  It is indelible my brain.  That man was an original and a visionary. And he never stopped believing in his vision.

Update: Don't believe the story?  Here's Steve Jurvetson's version with a picture of the keyboard, posted seven years ago!  He also posts a link to a book that recounts the same story.  Just go to this link and search for "Jurvetson" to find it.

Another update: Steve Jurvetson just had an article printed in BusinessWeek regarding his experiences with Steve Jobs, including this anecdote.