Steve Jobs stepping down as CEO of Apple hit me hard yesterday. Apple will be fine. He leaves them with great products and $75 billion in cash in the bank. It’s hard to find fault with that equation but there’s so much more to it.
To me, Steve Jobs is the icon of icons in Silicon Valley. Yes, there’s Bill and Dave at HP and the guys at Intel and they deserve their due. But I can’t think of another guy who made technology more usable and even desirable for every man, woman and child in the world. The generation that preceded him in Silicon Valley was building technology for technologists and I’m not diminishing the importance of that because it was leveraged into thousands of products that we use everyday. Jobs took things that already existed (notably, at XEROX PARC in the early days) and created new elements and made them highly functional and at the same time, objects of desire. There were thuds, the LISA and Newton come to mind, but even those had some redeeming qualities that were taken back to the drawing board to reemerge as part of another offering.
And who knows better than Jobs how to launch a product? I can’t think of anyone. From the simplicity and power of his presentations to the ads that get across in 30 seconds what competitors couldn’t in an hour. The secret, of course, is that absolutely nothing dissipates the force of a concept faster than a discussion of features and functions. It’s the difference between getting a shotgun blast to the chest versus opening up the shell and throwing the BBs at someone one by one.
Vision counts. It’s so lacking in the world today. We have loud. We have superficial. We need vision and not only does Jobs have it, he knows what to do with it. I hope he continues to do more of the same and that someone steps up to fill his shoes as that iconic visionary that Silicon Valley needs.
Thanks, Steve. In my current job, I use Apple as an example of something almost every week and the “Don’t think outside the box, reinvent the box” mentality to guide me. I sincerely wish you the best as you deal with your health, your family and future endeavors.