15 Reasons Steve Jobs is No Hero
Sorry, Elizabeth Holmes, but emulating Steve Jobs has never been a good idea for anybody, including Steve Jobs. Maybe if she’d chosen a different idol, she wouldn’t be theoretically reading this from prison.
He Denied Paternity of His Daughter
When Jobs’s girlfriend at the time got pregnant in 1976, he insisted, in front of the courts and God and everybody, that he was infertile and the child couldn’t be his. His daughter’s mother had to go on welfare and juggle several jobs to support her until a DNA test proved in 1980 that whatever logic convinced Jobs of his infertility was as faulty as an iPhone battery indicator.
He Was a Terrible Parent
Even after accepting paternity, Jobs was a real jerk to his first daughter -- when he was there, which he often wasn’t. Once, when the nine-year-old asked if she could have his Porsche someday, he told her, “You’re not getting anything. You understand? Nothing. You’re getting nothing.” He wasn’t kidding: He refused to pay for her college tuition or even have her bedroom at his home heated, even though he was a kajillionaire by that point. He did leave her several million dollars in his will, but that’s the absolute least he could have done.
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He Apparently Hated Charity
Speaking of the least he could do, Jobs had no public record of giving to charity. Nada. Zero. At least, not a single gift of over a million dollars to anyone, according to the people who track gifts of more than a million dollars. In fact, one of the first things he did upon returning to Apple in 1997 was close the company’s charitable arm. When he died, he left almost all of his money to his wife, who has been giving it away… but only because he didn’t want his children to have it.
He Fired People on a Whim
Jobs had a habit of firing people without notice or severance. According to an early Pixar employee, Jobs had “neither the emotional nor financial runway to be decent to people he was letting go,” and when she argued that they should at least get their two weeks, he responded, “Okay, but the notice is retroactive from two weeks ago.”
He Ripped Off His Cofounder
Jobs not only took credit for Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak’s work to get a job at Atari but also convinced him to keep doing Jobs’s work in exchange for a 50/50 split of a promised bonus. Jobs told Wozniak the circuit board they built together earned him only $700 and gave him $350, but his bonus was actually $5,000. Wozniak didn’t find out for 10 years, and just a few years later, he left Apple in general disgust.
He Stole Stuff Constantly
That wasn’t the only time Jobs took credit for something that wasn’t his. Given his reputation as a brilliant inventor, his genius seemed to lie mostly in identifying other people’s revolutionary ideas and stealing them, from Xerox’s graphical user interfaces for the first Macs to a no-name British inventor’s whole concept for a digital audio player for the iPod (who Apple admitted to ripping off but refused to pay). Jobs readily acknowledged this, often citing what he claimed was the Picasso quote “Good artists copy; great artists steal,” which Picasso didn’t say.
He Stiffed One of His First Employees
Jobs decided early on that technicians would be ineligible for stock options, and that included Daniel Kottke, who worked alongside Jobs in his garage back in the day. Wozniak felt so bad for Kottke that he personally gifted him some of his stock after the company went public, and Apple’s vice president of engineering offered to match anything Jobs gave him, but Jobs still refused. No wonder he spilled the beans about his secret daughter, as depicted in the 2015 movie Steve Jobs (although Kottke maintains he didn’t know she was a secret).
He Bullied Job Candidates
Imagine going in for a job interview at Apple with Steve Jobs himself, only to find the man’s eyes glazing over, asking you about losing your virginity. That was the experience of one candidate, who Jobs also asked about his past drug use and interrupted him with a turkey impression. The candidate took this as a hint that Jobs wasn’t interested in working with him, but like, he could have just said that.
He Liked to Humiliate His Employees
After the incredibly public 2008 failure of MobileMe, Apple’s own email system, Jobs called the MobileMe team into the Apple campus auditorium and asked them, “Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?” and then, after politely listening to their answer, “So why the fuck doesn’t it do that?” Then he yelled at them for half an hour straight, then he fired the head of the team. There were no cordial, closed-door dismissals for Steve Jobs.
He Was Generally Terrible to the People Who Worked For Him
Entire books have been written about the culture of fear and tyrannical working conditions at Apple. In 2014, Wozniak said that everyone he knew who worked at Apple said they would never, ever work for Steve Jobs again. This was well after he died, so it’s unclear whether he thought Jobs’s spectral form might visit them in the night to berate them for missed deadlines, but it was apparently a justified fear.
He Couldn’t Take Criticism
In 2010, a Gawker writer emailed Jobs late at night with some admittedly antagonistic questions about the supposedly “revolutionary” iPad, and Jobs surprised him by emailing back, repeatedly, in the middle of the night, to call him “bitter” and ask, “What have you done that’s so great?” Two years earlier, he called up a journalist who’d reported on “Apple’s culture of secrecy” and opened with “You think I’m an arrogant who thinks he’s above the law, and I think you’re a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.” You know he practiced that.
He Loved … Evil?
During a 2010 “town hall” event on the Apple campus, Jobs went on a rant about Google, who he ironically saw as trying to weasel in on his smartphone monopoly, and couldn’t be redirected by attendees’ questions. He ended by announcing that Google’s slogan, “Don’t be evil,” was “bullshit,” even though renouncing evil is sort of the ground level of human decency. Granted, Google is pretty hypocritical there, but the fact that the “audience roar” at his proclamation is also kinda scary.
He Was Mean to Service Workers
Once, at a five-star hotel in London, Jobs declared his room a “piece of shit” and demanded to leave, but not before letting the “shocked” reception clerk, who emphatically did not own the hotel, what he thought of it. On another occasion, he berated an elderly Whole Foods employee for making his smoothie wrong. They say you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat the waiter, and Steve Jobs treated the waiter like they killed his mother.
He Didn’t Shower
Jobs believed his fruitarian diet freed his body from the need to shower, and spoiler: He was wrong. So very, very wrong. So wrong, in fact, that he was put on the night shift at Atari so his colleagues didn’t have to smell him. He also believed taking off his shoes allowed him to access his intuition, so that couldn’t have helped.
He Illegally Parked in Handicapped Spaces
Come on, now. That’s the special hell.
Top image: Matthew Yohe/Wikimedia Commons