Steve Jobs can't change


It would have been neat to tell a lovely tale about a tyrant who finds redemption and becomes a family man - the repentant king returning to his rightful throne, surrounded by his lovely Queen and their children, delivering beautiful products to the plebs. The fable certainly has a pleasing arc of character. In another biography, Steve’s journey would hit all the right dramatic notes before finally clinching a cathartic moment, followed by a happy-ending. However, this is not that kind of biography.
Alan Deutschman’s The Second Coming of Steve Jobs reveals that Steve’s new found lightness of heart was mere spin delivered to the press to appease nervous shareholders when he returned to Apple. Alan based his best seller on a hundred interviews with people close to Steve. It’s one of the half dozen well-regarded books about the man. Alan declares that the tyrant has not redeemed himself at all. His book is a damning portrayal tempered by a begrudging sympathy for the devil.  Alan’s theory is that the new Steve is the same old Steve that bullied his Mac team into nervous breakdowns. Alan is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair who comes across in interviews as the guy who has the hot gossip on Steve. Occasionally his statements are backed by cited sources, most are not. Some of his details are suspect. For example, Steve would never own a dull Mercedes 240D. Firstly, he would take exception to the foul smell of diesel. Secondly, he certainly wouldn’t drive a sedan. The ostentatious young single millionaire would more likely be flying around in a coupe – probably a 380SL roadster. Discrepancies aside, Second Coming throws a dark shadow on Steve’s idea of himself as the corporate Zen master who listens to his acolytes with a newfound calm.
Alan wrote that Mona confided to journalist Lisa Picarelle that her novel about Steve had left Steve feeling betrayed and her book had ended her close relationship with her brother. Any fellow adoptee would have seen through Steve’s claim that he wasn’t upset about it. It conflicts with the wider experience of many adoptees. Reunion stories are rife with examples of over-sensitive parties who react badly to any sign of betrayal - let alone a tell-all book.  
Alan’s claims have been backed by other people. Long-time Apple commentator, Leander Kahney of Wired Magazine wrote that when Steve came back to Apple, he resumed his habit of parking his Mercedes in the handicapped zone. Unidentified staff expressed their indignation by converting the zone’s wheelchair symbol into a Mercedes logo. The most daring employees slipped notes under his windshield wiper stating: “Park Different.”  A decade after his return, Leander reported that nothing had changed since Steve’s second coming:
At most companies, the red-faced, tyrannical boss is an outdated archetype, a caricature from the life of Dagwood. Not at Apple. Whereas the rest of the tech industry may motivate employees with carrots, Jobs is known as an inveterate stick man. Even the most favored employee could find themselves on the receiving end of a tirade. Insiders have a term for it: the "hero-sh..thead roller coaster." Says Edward Eigerman, a former Apple engineer, "More than anywhere else I've worked before or since, there's a lot of concern about being fired."[1]
An admirer of Steve, Intel Chairman Andy Grove, once said, "Steve will always be Steve. The only thing that will change is that he will lose some more of his hair".[2]
How did Steve react to Alan's harsh indictment that he is a domineering bear with a sore head? He made an angry phone call to the chief executive of the book's publisher to bitch about what he called Alan’s "hatchet job" and advised him not to publish it or else.[3] The prosecutions rests.

[1] Kahney, L. (2008, March 18) How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong. Wired Magazine.

[2] Schlender, B. (1998, November 9) The Three Faces Of Steve. Fortune Magazine.

[3] Norr, H. (2000, October 10) 'Second Coming' Attempts to Decode Steve Jobs / Pixar, Apple honcho analyzed by his peers. San Francisco Chronicle.

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