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Steve Jobs refused to talk philanthropy with biographer

post #1 of 103
Thread Starter 
Though very few subjects were off-limits to biographer Walter Isaacson, one subject Apple co-founder Steve Jobs declined to talk about was what he planned to do with his wealth after he died.

Isaacson participated in a question-and-answer session with the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Calif. Among the more than 500 people in attendance was analyst Brian Marshall with ISI Group, who shared details of the event on Thursday.

The one thing that Jobs wouldn't reveal in their numerous interviews, Isaacson said, was his thoughts on philanthropy and what he would do with his billions of dollars after he died. One example cited was Jobs's refusal to participate in "The Giving Pledge," a campaign started by billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, which asks the richest people in America to donate most of their money to philanthropic causes.

The refusal of Jobs to talk about philanthropy was called out earlier this year, before the Apple co-founder passed away, in an editorial in The New York Times by Andrew Ross Sorkin entitled "The Mystery of Steve Jobs's Public Giving." Sorkin questioned why there is "no public record" of Jobs donating any of his money to charity, despite the fact that he was worth billions of dollars.

U2 lead singer Bono quickly came to the defense of Jobs, and wrote a letter to the editor of the Times defending his contribution to fight AIDS in Africa. Bono is the founder of (Product)RED, a charity that battles AIDS, which Apple has supported with special red iPod models since 2006.

Bono revealed that Apple's participation in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS was the largest of any company in the world, and that tens of millions of dollars were donated to H.I.V. testing, treatment and counseling.

"Just because he's been extremely busy doesn't mean that he and his wife, Laurene, have not been thinking about these things," Bono wrote. "You don't have to be a friend of his to know what a private person he is or that he doesn't do things by halves."

Aside from Jobs's privacy on philanthropy, Isaacson also spoke with the Commonwealth Club about content that was missing from the book. He said that any comments that were hurtful to individuals and served no purpose in the book were left out. One error in the book is that Burl Smith is a hardware engineer, not a software engineer.



The biographer revealed that he would write "Steve Jobs" from 9 p.m. until between 2 and 3 a.m., and would use Dropbox to access the raw manuscript while he was on the road. Isaacson said he wrote the book under the assumption that Jobs would eventually read the finished product.

The author also said that Jobs didn't attempt to replace himself at Apple, but picked executives that would be able to sustain Apple's competitiveness after he was gone. Jobs reportedly told Isaacson that he felt his greatest creation was the company Apple, not any individual product.

Released in October, "Steve Jobs" has already become Amazon's best selling book of 2011. The book is available in a hardcover edition, as well as digitally on the Kindle platform and Apple's iBookstore.
post #2 of 103
Further proof that Steve Jobs was a complete jerk.

EDIT: Changed punctuation because some people literally cannot see sarcasm! Strange!

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #3 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Further proof that Steve Jobs was a complete jerk⸮

What somebody does with their money is nobody else's business.

A lot of that philanthropy stuff is just a bunch of rich people seeking publicity for themselves. Who's to say that Steve Jobs didn't donate a bunch of money to various causes anonymously? Maybe he wasn't an attention seeking whore like some other people who give money away.

And I also feel that the hurtful comments should have been included in the book, as hurtful comments always serve a purpose, otherwise they wouldn't have been made.

When I become rich, one of my goals is to become an anti-philanthropist.
post #4 of 103
I think that is totally understandable and in character (as in 'good character'). Those that talk a lot about their philanthropy always make me very suspicious.
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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post #5 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Further proof that Steve Jobs was a complete jerk⸮

No, the exact opposite.

A philanthropist doesn't help others for his own fame. True charity is given without personal fanfare.
post #6 of 103
There is a strong likelihood that the couple were donating anonymously. Laurene Powell-Jobs is even more private than her deceased husband; only her tax preparer needs to know. Assuming they were donating anonymously before, she will probably continue to do so. There's no reason why she would go public with her philanthropic activities now. After all, she has been involved in non-profits for years (mostly education focused). Remember, Laurene Powell isn't a soccer mom. She worked at Merrill Lynch and has a Stanford MBA. Their wealth is probably tucked away in a private trust and there aren't public records for those, no probate court documents.

By donating anonymously, you have the personal satisfaction of having done something beneficial, without fielding requests from development managers from hundreds of others of charities.

I will point out that every single major charity (performing arts, museums, etc.) has anonymous donors at pretty much every single contribution level. Go to a symphony, opera, ballet, etc. and look at the program. Read the annual report from any large museum.

Contributing anonymously is far more common than a lot of people surmise.

Steve Jobs did contribute generously to the Woodside schools until the town of Woodside started jerking him around over the demolition permit of the Jackling Estate. Finally, he said enough and turned off the money spigot to the schools.
post #7 of 103
I wish they would come up with the 1.1 version of the book. There were some technical mistakes (such as the "fast access time" for the NeXT optical drive. It should have been "slow access time"), and some chapters seemed rushed and some stories seemed out of sequence toward the end.
post #8 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Further proof that Steve Jobs was a complete jerk⸮

Further proof that someone is, in any case.


Only on a site like this one would this be reported as interesting news. Imagine how this would play out on other topics. Entertainment Tonight teaser: "We interviewed ADELE and she declined to talk about her sex life! Tune in at 8:00 for more on this developing story!"
post #9 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkhm View Post

No, the exact opposite.

A philanthropist doesn't help others for his own fame. True charity is given without personal fanfare.

While I agree with this, I would add that someone like Gates likely isn't leveraging his name in philanthropy for greater fame, but leveraging his name to help his cause. I.e. if Gates is running a charity it gets more media attention and more people interested in helping.

So someone who is public isn't necesarily doing it for egotistic purposes.
post #10 of 103
No one on here knows if he donated money or not. If he did give anonymously, then he didn't want people to know he gave the money away, so everyone should just assume he gave nothing, just as he seemingly wanted. Next topic.
post #11 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by winstein2010 View Post

I wish they would come up with the 1.1 version of the book. There were some technical mistakes (such as the "fast access time" for the NeXT optical drive. It should have been "slow access time"), and some chapters seemed rushed and some stories seemed out of sequence toward the end.

Then we can buy it all over again like the Director's Cut of Lord of the Rings.

But you're right. I wouldn't be surprised if when the paperback come out it doesn't have an "updated with additional material" sticker on it (and quietly fixed errata).
post #12 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

What somebody does with their money is nobody else's business.

A lot of that philanthropy stuff is just a bunch of rich people seeking publicity for themselves. Who's to say that Steve Jobs didn't donate a bunch of money to various causes anonymously? Maybe he wasn't an attention seeking whore like some other people who give money away.

And I also feel that the hurtful comments should have been included in the book, as hurtful comments always serve a purpose, otherwise they wouldn't have been made.

When I become rich, one of my goals is to become an anti-philanthropist.

Well said.
post #13 of 103
Personally I think Jobs didn't like the idea of charity....ie simply giving away something valuable without it being earned. It simply went against his world view. I think he was absolutely fine with helping people, but was uncomfortable with the conventional idea of simply giving away money. I think he much rather would have created new companies and products that would help people help themselves, rather than just handing over money, which probably seemed crass to him and non-renewable. I think he had far more faith in capitalism to do good than conventional charity.

So do I. Giving money away like Gates and Buffet do is not the best use of that money. It creates short-term benefits but not long-term, sustainable ones. And while it does benefit some needy people, it also benefits the slick do-nothing types that often run and work for philanthropic organizations, which is an ugly side effect.
post #14 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

What somebody does with their money is nobody else's business.

A lot of that philanthropy stuff is just a bunch of rich people seeking publicity for themselves. Who's to say that Steve Jobs didn't donate a bunch of money to various causes anonymously? Maybe he wasn't an attention seeking whore like some other people who give money away.

And I also feel that the hurtful comments should have been included in the book, as hurtful comments always serve a purpose, otherwise they wouldn't have been made.

When I become rich, one of my goals is to become an anti-philanthropist.

What he said.
It's his money, he earned it. He took calculated risks which no others were willing or able to take.

It was up to him what he did with his money. Only jealous or envious people care to pass judgement.
post #15 of 103
Great business man, horrible person.

"Like I said before, share price will dip into the $400."  - 11/21/12 by Galbi

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"Like I said before, share price will dip into the $400."  - 11/21/12 by Galbi

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post #16 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelsalt View Post

While I agree with this, I would add that someone like Gates likely isn't leveraging his name in philanthropy for greater fame, but leveraging his name to help his cause. I.e. if Gates is running a charity it gets more media attention and more people interested in helping.

So someone who is public isn't necesarily doing it for egotistic purposes.

While I agree that is the case now, initially Gates' reputation was abysmal, and his philanthropic activities definitely helped to alleviate that. People forget the image that he had in the early 90's, and it's a very different image now.
Don't get me wrong, he has done amazing things, I'm just pointing out the cause and effect and it was due to public opinion that he was donating initially.
post #17 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Further proof that Steve Jobs was a complete jerk⸮

What a stupid comment
post #18 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by winstein2010 View Post

I wish they would come up with the 1.1 version of the book. There were some technical mistakes (such as the "fast access time" for the NeXT optical drive. It should have been "slow access time"), and some chapters seemed rushed and some stories seemed out of sequence toward the end.

I just wish Jacobson would have actually wrote his own book. To me, it felt like I was just re-reading "iWoz" and "Revolution in the Valley", often word-for-word, for most of it.
post #19 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galbi View Post

Great business man, horrible person.

Right, because:

1) You know him so well personally (I would bet you've never met him)
2) Absent proof of him giving to charity, you just assume he didn't.

The truth is that until very recently (last 20 years or so) , and absent a few outliers like Carnegie, it was standard operating procedure for corporations and rich people to donate anonymously. It's only recently that we have them insisting on getting advertising for their efforts or naming the stadium after them etc. If you have to crow about it, it isn't charity at all. It's you making a big deal about what a charitable person you are.
post #20 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

What somebody does with their money is nobody else's business.

A lot of that philanthropy stuff is just a bunch of rich people seeking publicity for themselves. Who's to say that Steve Jobs didn't donate a bunch of money to various causes anonymously? Maybe he wasn't an attention seeking whore like some other people who give money away.

And I also feel that the hurtful comments should have been included in the book, as hurtful comments always serve a purpose, otherwise they wouldn't have been made.

When I become rich, one of my goals is to become an anti-philanthropist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I think that is totally understandable and in character (as in 'good character'). Those that talk a lot about their philanthropy always make me very suspicious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nkhm View Post

No, the exact opposite.

A philanthropist doesn't help others for his own fame. True charity is given without personal fanfare.

I agree with these views. In an article about bullshit yesterday, Steve Rushin of Sports Illustrated used the term "conspicuous pseudo-philanthropy". I believe this term is an apt description of the Buffett/Gates efforts. I like to think of it as the Camel through the Eye of a Needle project.
post #21 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Further proof that Steve Jobs was a complete jerk⸮

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sector7G View Post

What a stupid comment

And this comes from an AI global moderator no less. Someone with the power to ban you if he so chooses. So watch out!
post #22 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by k2director View Post

Personally I think Jobs didn't like the idea of charity....ie simply giving away something valuable without it being earned. It simply went against his world view. I think he was absolutely fine with helping people, but was uncomfortable with the conventional idea of simply giving away money. I think he much rather would have created new companies and products that would help people help themselves, rather than just handing over money, which probably seemed crass to him and non-renewable. I think he had far more faith in capitalism to do good than conventional charity.

His wife is deeply involved in charities. That's how she chooses to spend her time. She could be riding horses and playing golf all day long, but that's not where her priorities lie. Do you really think he would have married such a person if he didn't have strong interest in that himself?

Note that Steve gave generously (yet discreetly) to the Woodside schools until the town starting dicking him about the demolition permit for the Jackling Estate.

The family's activities on Halloween are also indicative of the generous, yet low key and highly local nature of the Jobses.
post #23 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by k2director View Post

Personally I think Jobs didn't like the idea of charity....ie simply giving away something valuable without it being earned. It simply went against his world view. I think he was absolutely fine with helping people, but was uncomfortable with the conventional idea of simply giving away money. I think he much rather would have created new companies and products that would help people help themselves, rather than just handing over money, which probably seemed crass to him and non-renewable. I think he had far more faith in capitalism to do good than conventional charity.

So do I. Giving money away like Gates and Buffet do is not the best use of that money. It creates short-term benefits but not long-term, sustainable ones. And while it does benefit some needy people, it also benefits the slick do-nothing types that often run and work for philanthropic organizations, which is an ugly side effect.

Steve died young. For the last few years of his life, he was focused on Apple and battling his cancer. If he had lived longer, he might have brought a lot of creativity to acts of philanthropy. We will never know. We do know that he never much cared for money for its own sake.

I do disagree with you about Gates. I think that what Gates has done with his foundation is remarkable. Capitalism cannot take care of some very important human problems in health and education. Gates has taken upon himself to attack such problems around the world. Like eradicating malaria. Benefits in such cases are long-term and sustainable.
post #24 of 103
Diane Keaton on dating Steve Jobs: Steve Jobs was the one that got away

http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12...ed-steve-jobs/

CNN: Obamacare largest tax increase in American history

 

FORBES: ObamaCare's 7 Tax Hikes On Middle class

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CNN: Obamacare largest tax increase in American history

 

FORBES: ObamaCare's 7 Tax Hikes On Middle class

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post #25 of 103
Has any of you ever donated for charity? It's not important if people know that you donated or not, what's important is that you donated. Bill Gates has donated a large amount of his fortune, anyone who thinks that's for publicity is a total idiot. Try to do the same. SJ could have donated much more. Saying that he donated anonymously and that it's true charity he did is just big bullshit. He didn't want to shared as much as others, everybody knows that.
post #26 of 103
Jobs is meritocracy incarnate. That's why he never hooked up his third partner, Ron Wayne.

Why would he? He bailed on him and Woz. Tough.

Remember watching the video of Jobs as the Cuprtino City Council meeting in which he introduced the new Apple HQ? Remember one of the councilmembers asking for free Wi-FI? Jobs' response was something to the effect of, "I'm a simple man. We pay taxes. The city should be providing that service if that's what it wants to do."

Pretty straightforward, really.

Still: His stance on philanthropy is dickish. I see his point, but he's still a dick.
post #27 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by k2director View Post

.....

So do I. Giving money away like Gates and Buffet do is not the best use of that money.....

Please read this and tell us how the money could have better spent to solve these problems.

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Pages/home.aspx

BTW have you volunteered your services to Bill etc so you can tell him how to do it better?
Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster by your side, kid.
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Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster by your side, kid.
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post #28 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galbi View Post

Great business man, horrible person.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Right, because:

1) You know him so well personally (I would bet you've never met him)
2) Absent proof of him giving to charity, you just assume he didn't.

The truth is that until very recently (last 20 years or so) , and absent a few outliers like Carnegie, it was standard operating procedure for corporations and rich people to donate anonymously. It's only recently that we have them insisting on getting advertising for their efforts or naming the stadium after them etc. If you have to crow about it, it isn't charity at all. It's you making a big deal about what a charitable person you are.

And this is all because class envy and class warfare have become the cause du jour. The rich really have no right to their wealth. It is assumed they attained their wealth on the backs of the proletariat so it's only fair that it be redistributed back to said proletariat. Just ask any of the Occupy Wallstreet crowd and they'll set you straight. Gates took a lot of heat before he created his foundation if you remember.
post #29 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post

Jobs is meritocracy incarnate. That's why he never hooked up his third partner, Ron Wayne.

Why would he? He bailed on him and Woz. Tough.

Ron Wayne left on his own a few short months after creating the corporation. He has publicly admitted it without regret or anger.

Woz left Apple on his own in 1987, again on his own volition. This was two years after Jobs was ousted from Apple. Jobs had nothing to do with Woz's departure.
post #30 of 103
Isaacson, IMO, is deluding himself that Jobs opened out on all other topics. The gaps and mistakes in the book suggest that either Isaacson did not really understand his subject, or Jobs held back on much.

I'm sure it's a case of both. Even by Isaacson's own admission, he only interviewed Jobs a few times. How much could he have gotten from a few hours with a man with such a rich and colorful life?

Isaacson is dining out on his bio on Jobs. But it's not the gem that he thinks it is.
post #31 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

Further proof that someone is, in any case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sector7G View Post

What a stupid comment

Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

And this comes from an AI global moderator no less. Someone with the power to ban you if he so chooses. So watch out!

Wow, you people certainly have absolutely no idea what the sarcasm punctuation is, do you?

I mean, honestly, given your preoccupation with calling me out as a moderator, one would think you'd take the time to THINK before posting this stuff and say to yourself, "Now, wait a minute here, he's a moderator… would he really be saying this? Say, now, what's that backwards question mark of his? That's weird…"



Why should I have to explain this? I posted that mocking the people who truly believe that about Steve when they know nothing about him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galbi View Post

Great business man, horrible person.

Like the people who say this without sarcasm, for example.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #32 of 103
"One error in the book is that Burl Smith is a hardware engineer, not a software engineer."

One error in this post is that Burrell Smith was Burrell Smith, not Burl Smith.
post #33 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by k2director View Post

So do I. Giving money away like Gates and Buffet do is not the best use of that money. It creates short-term benefits but not long-term, sustainable ones. And while it does benefit some needy people, it also benefits the slick do-nothing types that often run and work for philanthropic organizations, which is an ugly side effect.

You have so much to learn if you believe eradicating deadly and debilitating diseases, supporting research in science, education and socioeconomics, and building schools and infrastructure in underdeveloped regions have short term benefits. Without knowing you, I'm quite certain this is the most mistaken statement of your entire life.
post #34 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by desktopia View Post

"One error in the book is that Burl Smith is a hardware engineer, not a software engineer."

One error in this post is that Burrell Smith was Burrell Smith, not Burl Smith.

But what about good old Burl? HW or SW guy?
post #35 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

But what about good old Burl? HW or SW guy?

I think he was the poet laureate.
post #36 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

His wife is deeply involved in charities.

Involved, yes. Deeply? That's relative. Generally speaking, I would say she is not deeply involved. At least, not deeply.
post #37 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by desktopia View Post

I think he was the poet laureate.

Ahhh, software then
post #38 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galbi View Post

Great business man, horrible person.

This is the message that I got out of the book too...
No, Steve, I think its more like we both have a rich neighbor named Xerox, and you broke in to steal the TV set, and you found out I'd been there first...
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No, Steve, I think its more like we both have a rich neighbor named Xerox, and you broke in to steal the TV set, and you found out I'd been there first...
Reply
post #39 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

Ron Wayne left on his own a few short months after creating the corporation. He has publicly admitted it without regret or anger.

Woz left Apple on his own in 1987, again on his own volition. This was two years after Jobs was ousted from Apple. Jobs had nothing to do with Woz's departure.

Let's not forget Woz's accident. I believe it changed me intellectually (i.e. not the same engineer anymore) and philosophically.
post #40 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

Ahhh, software then

Right, and a little marketing.
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