Upcoming Steve Jobs biography exposes Apple co-founder's final years, succession plans

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2015
A new excerpt from the upcoming biography Becoming Steve Jobs illustrates some of the lesser-known aspects of the Apple co-founder's life, including succession plans, his decline, and his involvement with Campus 2, the new Apple headquarters under construction in Cupertino.




In the excerpt, published through Fast Company, Jobs is said to have started thinking about succession as early as 2004, and to that end collaborated with former Yale School of Management professor Joel Podolny on Apple University, the company's school for indoctrinating management into favored methods and philosophies.

"Steve cared deeply about the why," current Apple CEO Tim Cook told authors Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzelii. "The why of the decision. In the younger days I would see him just do something. But as the days went on he would spend more time with me and with other people explaining why he thought or did something, or why he looked at something in a certain way. This was why he came up with Apple U., so we could train and educate the next generation of leaders by teaching them all we had been through, and how we had made the terrible decisions we made and also how we made the really good ones."

Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, noted that Jobs was "working his ass off till the end, in pain," using morphine to remain functional. In his final years Jobs began accelerating preparations to leave the company in a good shape, including founding Apple University, but also talking with Cook about what would happen after his death.

"He didn't want us asking, 'What would Steve do?' He abhorred the way the Disney culture stagnated after Walt Disney's death, and he was determined for that not to happen at Apple," according to Cook.

Jobs called Cook to his house on August 11, 2011 to announce the succession. "He told me he had decided that I should be CEO," Cook remarked to the biography's authors. "I thought then that he thought he was going to live a lot longer when he said this, because we got into a whole level of discussion about what would it mean for me to be CEO with him as a chairman. I asked him, 'What do you really not want to do that you're doing?'"

The pair discussed what level of authority Cook would have, and whether Jobs was sure he wanted to make the decision, since both of them believed that his health was actually improving. He would eventually succumb to pancreatic cancer a few months later, following a weekend in which his condition suddenly and sharply deteriorated.

In the excerpt, Cook is quoted as backing Jobs' decision to pick an inside candidate. "If I were leaving this afternoon I'd recommend an inside candidate, because I don't think there's any way somebody could come in and understand the complexity of what we do and really get the culture in that deep way. And I think Steve knew that it also needed to be somebody that believed in the Beatles concept," he said, referring to Jobs' belief that the Beatles brought out the best in each other while tempering any one person's excesses.

"Apple would not be served well to have a CEO who wanted to or felt like they needed to replace him [Jobs] precisely. I don't think there is such a person, but you could envision people trying. He knew that I would never be so dumb as to do that, or even feel that I needed to do that."

On Campus 2 Jobs is reported to have cooperately closely with Norman Foster Architects on the building's design, applying concepts similar to the design of Pixar's headquarters, as well as Jobs' general product mindset, which was striving towards an ideal form. Construction of a modified design is well underway, and due to be finished in time for 2016 occupancy.

Cook also decried 2011's Walter Isaacson biography -- despite it having cooperation from Jobs -- calling it a "tremendous disservice," a "rehash," and something that portrayed the executive has a "greedy, selfish egomaniac." As a counter-example, he pointed to an incident in 2009, when he realized that he could potentially be a living liver donor. Jobs flatly refused. "Steve only yelled at me four or five times during the 13 years I knew him, and this was one of them," said Cook.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,983member
    Tim's quotes make it clear how much wisdom the guy has, how much he understood Steve's philosophies, how much he understands Apple, and why he's the perfect person for the job.
  • Reply 2 of 16
    The man, the legend, the loss to humanity. Imagine where Steve would have taken this planet and our country had he not left us so soon.!

    RIP Steve Jobs. You are missed.
  • Reply 3 of 16
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,268member

    @Slurpy: Agreed.   I don't work at Apple and have never had any contact with Cook, so I can't comment on how he actually behaves day-to-day, but from the outside looking in, just as Jobs was probably the greatest American CEO of all time in spite of his faults, Cook is probably the most centered and balanced CEO out there today.   I think he feels so secure in his own intelligence and abilities that he doesn't engage in the kind of megalomania that so many other CEOs dwell in.   My bet is that while he might not push employees to the extremes that Jobs did, most people at Apple are probably a lot happier and that could lead to higher productivity in the long run as overall morale is probably very high.

     

    If anyone who is actually working at Apple today wants to confirm or deny my perceptions, feel free.

  • Reply 4 of 16

    Man, I've got to exercise some more self-discipline, and stop reading these drip, drip, drip leaks of the book's content.... if this keeps up, the book will just sit on my shelf unread (like the Isaacson one does). :\

  • Reply 5 of 16
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,453member
    The book comes out on the 24th, just in time to provide some corrective for Alex Gibney's hack documentary. One hopes it will make the movie appear really sleazy, unkind and stupid. I know that's the way Gibney appears right now.
  • Reply 6 of 16
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member

    I can't keep track of how many books and movies are all made about him. Its all boring.

  • Reply 7 of 16
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pmz View Post

     

    I can't keep track of how many books and movies are all made about him. Its all boring.


    Anyone holding a gun to anyone's head forcing them to read/view any of them?

     

    Or did you just feel like posting a vacuous comment?

  • Reply 8 of 16
    bugsnwbugsnw Posts: 706member

    I'm grateful to have lived in this golden age of computers. I can't wait to read this book.

  • Reply 9 of 16
    Does anyone know what this book is going to be called or who it is by?
  • Reply 10 of 16
    It's interesting to see Cook slating the Isaacson biography. His sentiment that the book didn't reflect Jobs accurately rings true with me. I think Isaacson couldn't get over the petty surface details of Jobs's forcefulness to delve into his deep thoughtfulness. It looks as though this book will rectify that weakness.

    The more this book drips out, the more I want to read it. However flawed Cook may be compared to Jobs, he gets many things right.
  • Reply 11 of 16
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,297moderator
    Does anyone know what this book is going to be called or who it is by?

    Becoming Steve Jobs
    The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
    Brent Schlender & Rick Tetzeli

    I pre-ordered it as an iBook for $14.95
  • Reply 12 of 16
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,472member
    Id love to hear the details of what Cook thinks is wrong with the Isaacson biography. Chapter by chapter.
  • Reply 13 of 16
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,983member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post



    Id love to hear the details of what Cook thinks is wrong with the Isaacson biography. Chapter by chapter.

     

    I would pay very good money for that. 

  • Reply 14 of 16
    pk22901pk22901 Posts: 119member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post



    Id love to hear the details of what Cook thinks is wrong with the Isaacson biography. Chapter by chapter.



    It's not about the details... Almost all the details must be true.

     

    It's about Isaacson's story, the one Isaacson created to tell about Jobs' life. I believe he focused on the negative to the detriment of the great.

  • Reply 15 of 16
    The man, the legend, the loss to humanity. Imagine where Steve would have taken this planet and our country had he not left us so soon.!

    RIP Steve Jobs. You are missed.

    +1. Every time I read a story like this, it's bittersweet.
  • Reply 16 of 16
    Man, I've got to exercise some more self-discipline, and stop reading these drip, drip, drip leaks of the book's content.... if this keeps up, the book will just sit on my shelf unread (like the Isaacson one does). :\

    Get the unabridged audiobook. It's about 23 hours long! I thought it was pretty good. I still had a lot of admiration and respect for Jobs after hearing it, and I know there was a slant towards some negative things about his personality...

    One thing Isaacson did was he painted Jobs as someone who learned, evolved, and became wiser and more loving with age. I didn't think it was a bad book overall. By the sounds of it, this one will be even better. "Becoming Steve Jobs" is a great title, because my perception of his life can be summed up in one word: "Evolution". He was an amazing guy in his 20s but became truly great in his 40s. The bitter sting of getting fired by Sculley helped shape who he became.

    I too was an arrogant prick in my 20s and 30s, so I didn't mind Isaacson characterizing Jobs like that. There is no denying Jobs' genius and ultimately, great character. You have to give Jobs credit for Tim Cook and Jony Ive and the rest of the team that's there today. Jobs is a legend, forever.
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