Steve Jobs Speaks Out On Break With Apple
Gerald C. Lubenow, Michael Rogers
Special to The Chronicle from Newsweek
September 23, 1985
New York -- After losing a bitter power struggle last spring with John Sculley, his hand-picked president, Apple Computer co-founder and former chairman Steve Jobs said he was given two weeks to leave his office, forced to move into a building he nicknamed Siberia, and was virtually cut off from the company's operations.
``In my wildest imagination, I couldn't have come up with such a wild ending to all of this,'' Jobs told Newsweek, speaking out for the first time since he resigned from the $2 billion company last week.
(He has announced plans for a new venture that reportedly will make and market desktop personal computers to leading universities.)
After Sculley told analysts earlier this year that he envisioned no future role for Jobs at Apple, Jobs described his reaction:
``You've probably had somebody punch you in the stomach and it knocks the wind out of you and you can't breathe. If you relax you'll start breathing again. That's how I felt all summer long. The thing I had to do was try to relax. It was hard. But I went for a lot of long walks in the woods and didn't really talk to a lot of people.''
Informed indirectly that he had two weeks to vacate his office, Jobs was moved into a leased building across the street from most of the other Apple buildings in Cupertino. Although he volunteered to help Apple on future projects, he said he quickly became a corporate outcast.
``I made sure that all of the executive staff had my home phone number,'' Jobs said. ``I knew that John had it, and I called the rest of them personally and made sure they had it . . . (I) told them that I wanted to be useful in any way I could.''
However, he added, ``none of them ever called back. And so I used to go into work - I'd get there and I would have one or two phone calls to perform, a little bit of mail to look at. But . . . most of the corporate-management reports stopped flowing by my desk.
``A few people might see my car in the parking lot and come over and commiserate. And I would get depressed and go home in three or four hours, really depressed. I did that a few times and I decided that was mentally unhealthy. So I just stopped going in.''
Reflecting on his own abilities, Jobs said he is more of an innovator than an administrator.
``I don't think that my role in life is to run big organizations and do incremental improvements . . I want to build things. I'm not ready to be an industry pundit.
``I got three offers to be a professor during this summer, and I told all of the universities that I thought I would be an awful professor. What I'm best at doing is finding a group of talented people and making things with them. I respect the direction that Apple is going in. But for me personally, you know, I want to make things.''
Jobs said he got the idea for his proposed new venture after a ``landmark lunch'' with Paul Berg, a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist at Stanford University. Jobs cites the challenge, rather than monetary rewards, as his primary motivation.
``I was real excited. It's not to get rich. I don't care about getting rich anymore,'' he said. ``One of the things I've thought about a lot is I'm 30, and I can look back on the last 10 years of my life and I feel pretty good about it. I'd like to do something again where I personally, when I'm 40, will look back and say, `You know, I spent my 30's well.' ''
Although Apple has raised the prospect of suing Jobs or his new company for theft of proprietary secrets, Jobs scoffed at that.
``I wasn't aware that Apple owned me . . I think that I own me. And for me not to be able to practice my craft ever again in my life seems odd,'' he said.
``We're not going to take any technology, any proprietary ideas out of Apple. We're willing to put that in writing. It is the law.
``There is nothing, by the way, that says Apple can't compete with us if they think what we're doing is such a great idea. It is hard to think that a $2 billion company with 4300-plus people couldn't compete with six people in blue jeans,'' he said.
Asked if he believes that Apple has been taken away from him, Jobs said the answer lies in the type of company it will now become.
``To me, Apple exists in the spirit of the people that work there, and the sort of philosophies and purpose by which they go about their business,'' he said.
``So if Apple just becomes a place where computers are a commodity item and where the romance is gone and where people forget that computers are the most incredible invention that man ever invented, then I'll feel I have lost Apple.
``But if I'm a million miles away and all those people still feel those things and they're still working to make the next great personal computer, then I will feel that my genes are still there.''
PHOTO; Caption: Steve Jobs