Making fun of Steve Jobs

One of the most popular, and funniest observers of the Steve's Reality Distortion Field is Fake Steve Jobs (AKA Newsweek journalist, Dan Lyons). This affectionately satirical blog pretends to be Steve's secret diary. The candid commentary of Fake Steve is so popular because the real Steve will rarely tell us his private thoughts. Of course, this encourages people to make educated guesses based on what little we know. Here are some of FakeSteve's amusing blog headers:

"I want to go on record saying this: There is no 'antenna problem' on the iPhone 4, and we’re not going to fix anything, because nothing needs to be fixed"

"I am so glad we’ve fixed this reception non-issue"

"You a..holes need to stop sending emails to me about this antenna issue"

"Consumer Reports are lying liars who lie"

"Can you tell when I’m lying? You totally can’t, right? That’s why I’m in marketing."

"We do not care about Android"

"Why we’re not scared of Android"

"Someone mentions Android, make sure you go totally nuts"

"I’m not worried about Android. That’s why I keep talking about it all the time."

"I’m watching the Android stuff today and it feels like the 80s all over again"

...Indeed.
So popular is Fake Steve that Dan published a successful book based on his blog called Options. It traced the scandal that erupted when he “was handed 7.5m stock options in 2001 without the required authorisation from the company’s board of directors, according to people familiar with the matter.”[1] It’s difficult to write something readable about such an indescribably boring subject, but Dan pulls it off with panache in his book. Options is a tragi-comedy about a spoilt high-tech emperor who lives in a bubble of his own self-importance. He refuses to be bothered with annoying issues like stocks, laws, or numbers, He is more concerned with office air conditioners that just aren’t silent enough. Despite his ridiculous hubris, the reader can’t help but have affection for Fake Steve. Like Jack Donaghy in the television series, 30 Rock, he appeals to the aloof capitalist who lives inside all of us.
During a LinkedIn interview with Dan, ex-Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki asked Dan if Apple legal ever contacted him. Dan said, “You would know better than I would. I think they would have a sense of humour” (laughter). Guy’s answer was, “There’s a lot of things you can say about Apple, but a sense of humour is not one of them, unless they’re laughing at you” (more laughter).[2]

It’s easy to make fun of Steve. He provides so much great material. However, beyond the public parody, Steve works under a private cloud. "Ambition bites the nails of success", wrote Bono from U2 - Steve's old acquaintance and sometimes enemy. Watching Steve's interviews is sometimes painful. His mannerisms are sharp, defensive. He can’t be still. He is a beleaguered, cornered fugitive. He is waiting to be hurt. Steve loses a piece of himself every time something spins out of his control. He works too hard. In August 2010, Money CNN named Steve the top CEO overachiever.[3]   Fake Steve Jobs attempts help us understand why the real Steve is so driven. Here is a wonderful example of astute poetic licence from Options:
My birth parents, a pair of snooty intellectual graduate students, had taken one look at me and said, “No thanks”. They gave me up. They abandoned me …Every day I tell myself that somewhere out there in the Midwest there are two snobby academics who gave birth to the greatest figure of our age, but they were too self-absorbed and short-sighted that they could not recognize their son’s inherent coolness. These two fools could have had a son worth five billion dollars. They could be zooming around the world in a private jet, zipping from their ski house in Aspen to their island in Tahiti.
That’s right, you jerks. You’re the Pete Best of parents. I hope you enjoy living out your days in some cut-rate assisted living facility, eating creamed chip beef on toast. Yum. [4]
At The All Things Digital Conference in 2007, the first thing Bill Gates said was “Firstly I want to clarify that I’m not Fake Steve Jobs”. Laughter ensued, especially from the real Steve.


[1] Waters, R. (2006, December 28) Apple ‘Falsified’ files on Jobs’ Options. Financial Times.

[2] Sundar, M. (2007, October 27) LinkedIn Q&A Event: Real Guy Kawasaki interviews Fake Steve Jobs [Video blog]. Linkedin.com. Retrieved from http://blog.linkedin.com/2007/11/12/videos-from-the/

[3] money.cnn.com (2010, August 17) 15 Top CEO Overachievers. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2010/news/1008/gallery.ceo_overachievers/index.html

[4] Lyons, D. (2008) Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs. Massachusetts: Da Capo Press.

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