June Newsletter

   October 5, 2011         |    Santa Barbara, California

Steve Jobs1955-2011

Since about 4pm yesterday my world has been totally different.

I knew Steve Jobs was ill, but it hit me as a numbing shock that he had died. 

He seemed iconic, bigger than life.  How can he be gone?  He was the thing that made technology magic, exciting, mysterious, and the subject of massive rumor mills all year long.  He can’t die.  How can he die?

Most people don't really understand how much Steve has changed the world we live in by making technology "human-friendly." 

He was not a hardware designer, but he oversaw every hardware design that emerged from Apple while he was there.  He did not write software, but demanded that it look and work exactly as he felt it should before it left the shop.  You will hear the phrase "visionary genius" many times in the next few days, weeks, months, but it's true.  He literally defined almost every device you are using to communicate and connect with the world.  Not just Apple products, but most of what you see in Windows was copied (Microsoft might say "inspired") from the Mac OS.  Every Droid, every Kindle, every Samsung, every Sony out there in one way or another looks the way it does because of Steve Jobs.  There was literally no technology company in the world that was not impacted every time Apple released something new.  And that's profound.

We often joked about the Steve Jobs time machine that he would use to zip to the future, find out what people were using, and then come back and redefine a category of experience for something like a smart phone.  He didn't believe consumers really knew what they wanted and would quote Henry Ford who said something along the lines of, "If I asked the people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse."  So there were no focus groups at Apple, no “market research” in the way that we think of it.  Market research said that there was no market for tablet computing.  We all know what a flop the iPad has been…

One of my favorite lines from Jobs was his fondness of quoting hockey great, Wayne Gretsky.

"A good hockey player plays where the puck is.  A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be."

Somehow Steve always knew where the puck was going to be and Apple was always ahead of the game.  Steve was the greatest player in this game.  I’m not sure they’ll ever be another one and that’s why I’ve still got this lump stuck in my throat.

And now he's really gone.  Just gone.

I feel a deep sense of loss.  I never knew him, never met him, but he was at the top of my list for that dream dinner party along with Ghandi, Jesus, the Buddha, Einstein, and other fascinating people.  I wrote a couple of emails to him in hopes that he might actually reply as he’d been known to do randomly.  But he didn’t and that’s okay.

I hope new visionaries will step into his place and make the evolution of technology as fun, interesting and intuitive as Steve did.  I'm not sure that will or can happen, but without that creative force, technology will become a lot duller for sure.

The thing is that I would not be involved with computers at all if it weren’t for Steve Jobs and Apple.  I loathed computers before my first Mac.  I owe a large part of my life and livelihood to Steve Jobs and he never knew it.  I never even got to thank him.

So that’s what I want to do here.

Steve, thank you.  You did a good job with your life.  A really, really good job.  You lived an amazing life full of incredible highs and lows.  Because you stuck with it and never gave up your crazy visions, your work has touched the majority of the planet.  Thank you for living the life you did.  Thank you for your drive, your excellence and your insistence that devices be user friendly. 

Thank you, Steve.  My family thanks you too.  I can only imagine the horrible sense of loss your family and close friends must be feeling if I feel this much.  My heart goes out to them.  You have touched so many.

I hope you will rest knowing this was a life well done.

With Grief and Gratitude,