Interview at Woodside Home / Apple Suit Puzzles Jobs

John Eckhouse
The San Francisco Chronicle 

September 25, 1985

Steven Jobs, alternately bewildered and upset, said yesterday that he remains totally baffled by Apple Computer's decision Monday to sue him.

``I don't understand why it seems to be such a threat to Apple that I want to go back to work,'' said Jobs, who resigned last week as chairman of the Cupertino company he co-founded. ``The fact that they filed a lawsuit, we just don't understand.''

Apple charged Jobs with misappropriating confidential information, luring away key managers and violating his fiduciary duties to shareholders by forming a new company while still chairman of Apple.

Jobs, dressed casually in faded jeans and tennis shoes without socks, frequently slumped in his chair, stared at the floor in the living room of his Woodside estate, and at times seemed a little lost for words during a 45-minute interview with a handful of reporters. At other moments he lashed out at Apple's management and board of directors, though he said he was not sure which ones were behind the lawsuit.

By the end of the discussion Jobs seemed drained and tense. He abruptly asked reporters to leave so he could get back to work on his new company, then sent an associate outside to ask people to move faster in leaving the spacious grounds.

Jobs and his attorney, David Balabanian, said they spent much of last week trying to negotiate with Apple to prevent a lawsuit that would damage both parties.

``We thought an agreement in principle had been reached Friday subject to a few sticking points,'' said Balabanian, who said he was startled on Monday to learn of Apple's lawsuit. After the interview, Balabanian asked a reporter for clues as to Apple's real intentions in the case.

Apple said the reason it sued is clearly spelled out for the world to see.

``He breached his responsibility to shareholders in planning a company while still chairman of the board. He misled the board in what he told them he is doing and, thirdly, we believe his company is going to compete with Apple,'' said spokeswoman Barbara Krause. ``We did try very, very hard to avoid a lawsuit - that's what (general counsel) Al Eisenstat was doing all last week.''

Jobs called the suit ``absurd.'' Sitting in a large room furnished with only a grand piano, a laser disk stereo system, a few chairs and a model of his estate, he said Apple must have a hidden agenda beyond the issues it raised during last week's negotiations.

``Maybe they want to parade me naked in the square,'' he said.

Jobs said he tried repeatedly to reassure Apple that his new company, Next Inc., would not use Apple's technology and that he would not hire away any more employees for at least six months. Jobs said he asked Apple what it was trying to protect and he agreed not to useany of seven proprietary technologies on a list Apple gave him.

He denied reports that Richard Page, a former Apple engineer who quit along with four others to join Jobs last week, had been working on the type of computer technology at Apple that Next plans to develop.

``We're not doing anything similar,'' he said. Jobs said Next is talking about developing a powerful computer that professors can use to write educational software for their classes. He intends to spend the month of October talking to universities about their needs.

``We do not have a product plan, we don't even have a business plan,'' Jobs said. He plans to fund Next entirely by himself with the money he raised by selling 20 percent of his Apple stock.

Though one might expect him to be bitter at his former company, Jobs said he looked back ``fondly'' at Apple and his days there.

``We think Apple is great and the employees are great and nobody wants Apple to have a more successful Christmas than me,'' he said. But he did take a slight dig at its current group of top executives.

``The senior management team at Apple is not from Silicon Valley and maybe they don't understand the culture,'' he said, noting that a founder's departure to start a new venture is almost standard operating procedure in this area.

PHOTO; Caption: Steven Jobs talked to reporters about his old company, Apple, and his new company, Next Inc. / By Steve Ringman

Copyright 1985