Thanks, Steve

I've never even met you, but I wouldn't have my career if not for you.  So I thought this would be a good time to say thanks.

It was the Macintosh computer you championed that first drew me into developing software.  That business didn't make me rich, but it eventually got me hired by Apple.  Unfortunately, you left a year before I got to Apple, but the company's goals were still the things you preached -- do something insanely great, change the world.

I spent ten years at the company you co-founded, and it was both a great education and a fun ride.  Unfortunately, in a case of spectacularly poor judgment, I quit in early 1997, after the NeXT acquisition but before you took back control of the company.  I didn't believe you'd take over, and I lost faith in the previous management.  My only contact with you was a single meeting that you and I both attended.  I was there as an observer, so I sat in the back and said nothing.  My only impression of you was, "wow, he really doesn't wear socks."

Perhaps it's just as well that I quit.

Although I was no longer with Apple, you still played a huge role in my career.  For a time in the late 1990s, it looked like Silicon Valley was becoming a backwater in technology.  Software was dominated by Microsoft after its demolition of Netscape, AOL on the east coast was the online leader, and Dell in Texas plus the Asian companies were the leaders in PC hardware.  The Valley's leadership role was saved, I believe, by Yahoo and Google in the web world, and by Apple's resurrection in computer systems.

Other people are doing a great job of recapping all of Apple's product successes since your return, so I won't bother repeating them here.  But I want to talk about two other accomplishments that stand out to me.  The first is how you've reset the way the tech industry looks at consumer products.  Even a few years ago, most people still said that Microsoft's business model -- in which the hardware was designed separately from the software -- was the only viable way to make computing devices.  Today, everyone talks about codeveloping hardware and software, and it's because of you.

The other accomplishment that stands out to me is your creation of an organization at Apple that could turn out hit after hit, reliably and with great quality.  Most people don't appreciate how hard that is, mostly because Apple makes it look so easy.

It's because of the organization you built that I'm confident Apple will continue to do well, even as you reduce your role.  I hope your health will improve, and it would be great to see you back as CEO some day.  But that's speculation for another time. 

Right now, I just wanted to say thanks, Steve.  It was insanely great, and you did indeed change the world. 


Chris Bryant said...

Very nicely done, Michael. I could not agree with you more.

Aaron Miller said...

A nice, heartfelt tribute Michael. Your summary of his contributions couldn't be briefer yet more accurate...and let us never forget his amazing attention to detail!

Francisco Kattan said...

Well done Mike. Thanks Steve inspiring our generation to excellence.

Chan said...

Oh.. Tears!

It's more less the same story for most of the folks in tech industry, being at distant I always imagined the world Steve has made it lately, as I have written here:

Sad, happy, contented spiritual moment for most who got inspired by Steve's magic.

The magic itself is his creation of Apple itself so we all have respect for it. You were lucky and unlucky to work and leave Apple and I kind knows the feeling.

We all wish Steve good luck peaceful retirement!

Business Mobile said...

Nice tribute to Steve by a well wisher, and this is really a good time off-course.