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International Column
 

What we learnt from the visionary called Steve Jobs
Three well-known entrepreneurs of America Inc. write about their personal interactions with the late Steve Jobs, the visionary who deeply influenced their minds and helped shape their professional lives
Issue Date - 27/10/2011
 
Steve case, founder, aol As the head of AOL, he recalls working with Jobs and being touched by his passion for product: “When Steve returned to Apple, he called me and implored me to make the Mac a priority for AOL. At the time, the Mac share had shrunk to less than 5%, so our development focus had shifted to Windows. He was of course passionate about his vision and how he’d get Apple back on track. Most in the industry had given up on Apple but with Steve back you knew a recovery was possible. A few years later (early 2002), we met for lunch at a sushi restaurant in San Francisco, and brainstormed about digital music. We found a corner in the back so nobody would see us. We had just closed the AOL/TW merger and I was trying to push Warner Music into the future (and also leverage the AOL assets like Spinner, Winamp, etc). He was a year or so away from launching iPod/iTunes. I left the meeting knowing he was on to something insanely great.

More recently, I had dinner with Steve and a few others (Rupert Murdoch, Mark Zuckerberg, etc). He was clearly tired but he stayed longer than he intended. I think we all had the sense this might be snour last time together. Sadly, it was. He was the most innovative entrepreneur of our generation. His legacy will live on for the ages.”

marc benioff, founder and chief executive of salesforce.com Benioff, who was briefly an employee at Apple in 1984, lost touch with Jobs when he moved to Oracle. But more than a decade later, the executives reconnected, as Benioff began to build his new start-up, Salesforce.com. The enterprise executive, who calls Jobs a prophet, recalls one meeting in 2003: “We had a really incredible meeting in 2003. He laid down the law for me and said there were three things that Salesforce had to do to survive. We were a $25 million company at that time. He said we had to get 10 times larger in 24 months, we had to be able to close very large clients at scale, and we needed to build an application ecosystem. If I could do those three things, it could be an enduring company. It took a lot of decoding and a lot of thought, on my part, to figure out what he meant.” Based on Jobs’ advice, Benioff created an application marketplace that became “AppExchange.” During the project’s early days, it was internally called the “app store” and Salesforce even purchased the url “appstore.com.” It was only several years later that Benioff realised that his mentor had been pushing Salesforce in the same direction as he was leading his own company. And at the announcement for Apple’s App Store, Benioff made a gift of the website to Jobs, as a small token of gratitude. “Steve would say something so prophetic and so visionary, it would take a while to figure out what he said. Just a few seconds with him can change your life,” Benioff said. “He taught me you have to stay true to your vision over time, you have to stay with it and let it play out.”

sandy robertson, co-founder of the pe f irm francisco partners Robertson, who has known Jobs for several years, worked closely with the executive on Pixar’s IPO in 1995. In constructing the company’s prospectus, Robertson recalls Jobs’s famous attention to detail and his insistence on including his favourite scenes from “Toy Story.” “Steve had a way of really getting the big picture, and the little details. I remember when we were writing the prospectus for Pixar, he looked at every picture in the prospectus and moved them around. He was a wonderful client, but he was also a challenging one.”

Robertson fondly remembers another memory of Jobs. One day Jobs couldn’t get his own computer to work, and he had to call a technician. “It made me realise, that even he was human,” Robertson said.

 

          

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