Steve Jobs was not 'warm and fuzzy': biographer

Oct 24, 2011

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs could be mean, abrasive and cuttingly dismissive of co-workers in his quest for perfectionism, according to his biographer.

"He's not warm and fuzzy," Walter Isaacson, the author of "," which hits bookstores on Monday, said in an interview with the CBS show "60 Minutes."

"He was very petulant," Isaacson said of Jobs, who died on October 5 at the age of 56. "He was very brittle. He could be very, very mean to people at times.

"Whether it was to a waitress in a restaurant, or to a guy who had stayed up all night coding, he could just really just go at them and say, 'You're doin' this all wrong. It's horrible.'

"And you'd say, 'Why did you do that? Why weren't you nicer?' And he'd say 'I really want to be with people who demand perfection. And this is who I am.'

"You know, he was a pretty abrasive and in some ways, you know, cantankerous character," Isaacson said.

Job's quest for perfection came in part from his adopted father, Paul Jobs, who taught him "how to make great things," his biographer said.

"Once they were building a fence. And he said, 'You got to make the back of the fence that nobody will see just as good looking as the front of the fence,'" he said. "That will show that you're dedicated to making something perfect.'"

Isaacson said Jobs may have come up with the , the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad during his brilliant career but he "was not the world's greatest manager.

"In fact, he could have been one of the world's worst managers," he said. "He was always, you know, upending things.

"And, you know, throwing things into turmoil. This made great products, but it didn't make for a great management style."

Isaacson said Jobs, despite being worth billions of dollars, lived in a modest house in Palo Alto and was determined not to let money change him.

In a taped interview for the book, Jobs told Isaacson a lot of people had changed at Apple after becoming wealthy.

"A few people went out and bought Rolls-Royces and they bought homes, and their wives got plastic surgery," Jobs said.

"I saw these people who were really nice, simple people turn into these bizarro people," he said. "And I made a promise to myself. I said: 'I'm not going to let this money ruin my life.'"

Isaacson said that after Jobs became ill with pancreatic cancer in 2003, he "no longer wanted to go out, no longer wanted to travel the world.

"He would focus on the products," he said. "He knew the couple of things he wanted to do which was the and then the .

"He had a few other visions," he said. "I think he would've loved to have conquered television. He would love to make an easy-to-use television set.

"So he had those things. But he started focusing on his family again as well," Isaacson said. "And it was a painful brutal struggle."

Explore further: UN study: Cellphones can improve literacy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Steve Jobs biography on sale in November

Aug 15, 2011

A biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs being written by former Time magazine managing editor Walter Isaacson will be released in November, publisher Simon & Schuster said Monday.

Jobs had Google phones in crosshairs: biographer

Oct 22, 2011

Insights into Apple co-founder Steve Jobs's vendetta against Google and his criticisms of fellow high-tech titans spread quickly online ahead of the Monday release of his authorized biography.

Steve Jobs comic book to hit in August

Jun 13, 2011

The life of Apple visionary Steve Jobs will be told in a comic book to be released in August by the studio that did the same with the story of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Recommended for you

UN study: Cellphones can improve literacy

15 hours ago

A study by the U.N. education agency says cellphones are getting more and more people to read in countries where books are rare and illiteracy is high.

Gates-funded student data group to shut down

Apr 21, 2014

The head of a student data processing organization says it will shut down in the coming months following criticism that led to the recent loss of its last active client—New York state.

Four questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

Apr 19, 2014

Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?

"I think one can argue that if we were to follow a strong nuclear energy pathway—as well as doing everything else that we can—then we can solve the climate problem without doing geoengineering." So says Tom Wigley, one ...

US urged to drop India WTO case on solar

Environmentalists Wednesday urged the United States to drop plans to haul India to the WTO to open its solar market, saying the action would hurt the fight against climate change.