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Google Businesses Apple

New Book Reveals Apple's Steve Jobs Was First Choice for Google CEO 167

Posted by Roblimo
from the do-no-evil-while-wearing-a-black-turtleneck dept.
A Reader notes, Steven Levy's latest book, In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives, lifts the lid on the secretive world of Google, revealing how the founders fell out with Apple's Steve Jobs and what happened in the search engine's exit from China. Levy claims that when Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were on the hunt for a chief executive they wanted Steve Jobs to take the job. Obviously, he didn't, and later the two companies became fierce rivals rather than allies.
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New Book Reveals Apple's Steve Jobs Was First Choice for Google CEO

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  • by McGuirk (1189283) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @05:24PM (#35769996) Homepage
    It makes you wonder how things would have turned out if Jobs had accepted the offer. Then again, the competition between the two is likely to still lead to some new innovations that might not surface otherwise.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Don't be evil" could not have been the motto with that douChEO in charge

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "Don't be evil" could not have been the motto with that douChEO in charge

        Youtube wouldn't be using Flash right now, though.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by joh (27088)

          "Don't be evil" could not have been the motto with that douChEO in charge

          Youtube wouldn't be using Flash right now, though.

          And Google Apps would be a joy to use instead of the total mess it is.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Not if it was anything like itunes

          • by Xest (935314)

            Yeah, it could be as awesome as iTunes.

            Oh wait.

        • by leenks (906881)

          I don't have Flash. I can use YouTube.

          • Well you can thank Apple and the other members of the WHATWG [wikipedia.org] for that.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @06:36PM (#35770444) Journal
      I'm not sure that Jobs could possibly have been induced to take the offer: He already has more money than he could conceivably spend on any hobby that isn't "tell financial minion to write check for value of liquid holdings to somebody"(and, unlike many wealthy CEOs, he doesn't seem to have any wildly expensive hobbies), so he is unlikely to be buyable.

      His work with Apple(which obviously gooses the value of his stock holdings; but for which he doesn't get paid nearly what he easy could demand) seems to be entirely about pursuing his perfectionism wherever it leads him, even if that means killing profitable products(hello iPod Mini...), stomping on backwards compatibility in ways that upset important partners(Yo Adobe, 64 bit carbon is dead, we didn't bother to tell you until the last second; because Cocoa is just better.) and trading marketshare for margin whenever necessary(nearly all the Macs, the continued lack of a 1 socket mini-tower type config).

      Google, on the other hand, really only does relentless perfectionism on the back end(datacenter efficiency and search algorithms). Most of their user-facing stuff is not bad; but is proudly beta, low margin, and basically about being good enough to serve its strategically vital cash cows.

      Unless Jobs suddenly developed an intense hatred of publicity, in which case he might well be a good recruit for some position in Google's back-end operations, a gig with Google would run strongly against his tastes, and he already has enough money, and not enough interest in money, that Google couldn't easily buy him.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by nomadic (141991)
        Plus Jobs is a complete narcissist, he would have trouble functioning in an environment where there were identifiable people who could replace him as opposed to his easily cowed, faceless board of directors at apple.
        • by vakuona (788200) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @04:46AM (#35772670)

          Yeah. The Pixar guys were really cowed and faceless. People have this idea of Jobs, the CEO being one person, the Apple CEO. But he was also Pixar CEO, and they seemed to do OK. Maybe, he is just a really clever guy who knows how to organise a business to make money. Compare his computer company (I use the term loosely, Apple ceased being that a long time ago) to other computer companies (Dell, HP, Compaq (now HP obviously), Gateway etc). His is the most successful, running on a completely different strategy, making it work. He also ran Pixar, right up until he sold it and they didn't make a single flop movie. Who says he wouldn't have been able to run Google. He proved himself in 2 completely different industries already.

        • What makes you think he is a narcissist? Aside from all the stories you've read on the internet?

        • by abigor (540274)

          Oh please, Jobs was fired by the board once. They can do it again. They won't because he is really good at what he does.

          Anyway, why people have such personal feelings and feel free to make character judgements about a guy they will never meet who runs a computer hardware and software company is beyond me.

          • They won't because he is really good at what he does.

            That's not the only reason. They won't fire him because it's not necessary. Given his health, it's only a matter of time before they need to hunt for a new CEO, anyway.

      • "...stomping on backwards compatibility in ways that upset important partners(Yo Adobe, 64 bit carbon is dead, we didn't bother to tell you until the last second; because Cocoa is just better.)"

        First, this isn't an example of backwards compatibility. 32 bit Carbon has continued to live on just fine. 10.6 still is fully backwards with 32 bit Carbon. 64 bit Carbon was a new API that Apple canceled (and 64 bit Carbon itself wasn't even fully api compliant against 32 bit Carbon.)

        Second, Cocoa had been pushed as

        • by omfgnosis (963606)

          I don't think this is entirely right. At the time of the introduction of OS X (10.0), Cocoa and Carbon were given equal weight. Apple even rewrote NeXT's file manager in Carbon to prove the API's viability; this Carbon Finder wasn't replaced until the current version of OS X (10.6). Apple gradually changed its tune on API preference, and it's fair to say the writing has been on the wall for at least 3 major versions of the OS. But the only glimmer of evidence that Carbon wasn't meant to be included in OS X

          • "But the only glimmer of evidence that Carbon wasn't meant to be included in OS X was that it didn't appear in OS X Server (1.0), which was never meant to be a replacement for classic MacOS, and was never marketed as such. Carbon was always part of Apple's strategy to not bleed developers (besides just Adobe; Microsoft being another major one, but hundreds of others as well) in its second major technology transition, the same way that Fat Binaries were part of Apple's strategy in the first."

            It never appeare

      • His work with Apple(which obviously gooses the value of his stock holdings; but for which he doesn't get paid nearly what he easy could demand)

        Yeah, about that famous "$1" salary that Jobs gets from Apple (a headliner news item he shares with other tech moguls). The purpose of drawing a low salary is to avoid paying the highest rate of 35% income tax and instead pay 15% capital gains on stock grants and qualified dividends. Steve Jobs is the 34th richest person in the U.S. and tied for 110th in the world [cnn.com] wi

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      As big a fan I am of Steve, his golden touch is with physical objects. I don't know if he understands search. Would gmail, my favorite google product, have been free to the general public or behind a paywall destined for obscurity forever?

      I'm hesistant to say more, because he showed with NeXT an understanding of software, so I can't fault him with that, although I can't grasp OS X gui or some mac software beyond the basic, how to do things I take for granted in Windows as trivial methods easily discovere

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Steve doesn't necessarily understand physical objects, he has a knack for promoting and supporting people that know what they're doing. He wasn't responsible for the iPod, iPad, iPhone or any number of other gizmos that they've had great luck with, he was however responsible for ensuring that the people who were had the resources and support to make a quality product.

        • by rolfwind (528248)

          However, he also knows how to push people who come to him with a substandard product. Brilliant people can still put forward crappy work if allowed.

    • It makes you wonder how things would have turned out if Jobs had accepted the offer.

      Well, google phones probably would have been cooler and much more popular. ;-)

  • by scotch51 (108624) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @05:32PM (#35770048) Homepage

    Actually Jobs was choice number 3, after Sergey and Larry as co-CEO.

    Wired has it this month, from the same author. Oddly I don't recall a book reference.

    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/03/mf_larrypage/ [wired.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 09, 2011 @05:34PM (#35770066)

    from them.

    Jobs and Gates seem to display sociopathic, if not psychopathic characteristics. Is that necessary to succeed in business today?

    Or perhaps it has always been true. Have any studies been done that rate the sociopathic/psychopathic levels of captains of industry?

    • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @05:44PM (#35770130)

      Yes, and it's true that sociopathy is more prevalent in corporate management than it is in other parts of society.

      This isn't necessarily a bad thing, for the most part, just a case of different people with different personalities finding roles in society where their traits are assets rather than liabilities. If you could wave a magic wand and remove the influence of so-called "sociopaths" from human history, we'd all find ourselves back in the caves, if not the trees.

      Likewise if everyone behaved like a stereotypical CEO, we'd have destroyed ourselves long ago. It takes all kinds.

      • by microbox (704317) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @06:09PM (#35770274)

        This isn't necessarily a bad thing, for the most part, just a case of different people with different personalities finding roles in society where their traits are assets rather than liabilities.

        You have to be kidding. Bullying and walking over people is never an asset in a civilized society. Only about 2% of people are like that, and they cause almost all of the problems.

        If we didn't have the problem of sociopaths and psychopaths (pigs might fly), then our political and business system would actually be ethical, since 98% of the population doesn't have much of a problem with being ethical.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Bullying and walking over people is never an asset in a civilized society

          And your degree in behavioral psychology is from the University of ________?

          The fact is, progress depends on people who are willing to place their own interests -- or those of their "tribe" -- above those of others. Your statement suggests that you're either 12 years old, or have spent all your life in a Zen monastery.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by hedwards (940851)

            You do realize that psychology isn't actually science, right? And that argumentum ad hominems just make you look like a dumbass.

            Most humans, despite the beliefs to the contrary are more or less decent people, there's just this nasty tendency towards confirmation bias that makes it seem otherwise. People tend to be social and without those 1-2% individuals that behave like that, I'm really not convinced that people would behave like that.

            That being said, there's no way of knowing because we'll never get rid

            • So if psychology isn't a science, what basis could any of the generalizations in your post possibly have? Almost every sentence you wrote contains at least one such statement, unbacked by any cited research. Not only that, but you seem to be saying that such research would be unscientific by its nature.

              If psychology is a science, then it is entitled to ask and answer questions regarding the interaction of sociopathic personalities with society as a whole. Practitioners can determine whether people like G

            • Bullying and walking over people is never an asset in a civilized society. Only about 2% of people are like that, and they cause almost all of the problems....

              .

              You are being a bit delusional here, confusing an ideal (should be...) with reality (what is..). What you state may be true, but bullying and walking over people are almost as necessary to this society as the lack of it. What do you think the police/military do? In fact, bullying/lack of order/law of the jungle was one of the reasons for development of religion - a legacy that has now become more a burden than benefit.
              And by the way, where do you get that 2% figure from? Sources?

              Most humans, despite the beliefs to the contrary are more or less decent people, there's just this nasty tendency towards confirmation bias that makes it seem otherwise. People tend to be social and without those 1-2% individuals that behave like that, I'm really not convinced that people would behave like that.

              This has only happened in

      • If you could wave a magic wand and remove the influence of so-called "sociopaths" from human history, we'd all find ourselves back in the caves, if not the trees.

        They 80s just called, they want their "Greed Is Good" slogan back.

    • by improfane (855034) * on Saturday April 09, 2011 @05:48PM (#35770152) Journal

      Jobs did steal, he pocketed cash that was meant for Steve Wozniak.

      http://www.woz.org/letters/general/91.html [woz.org]

      • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @07:18PM (#35770704)

        Or, as it really happened:

        Jobs was working for Atari.

        Atari offered Jobs $750 to create a Breakout prototype in 4 days, with a $100 bonus for every chip he eliminated from the original estimate of ~100 chips.

        Jobs told his friend Woz about the project, and offered to split the $750 if Wozniak made the prototype. Jobs never told Wozniak about the bonus.

        Wozniak produced a prototype with an incredible 50 fewer chips than the estimate. However, Atari decided not to use the prototype, since for all its efficiency it was the hardware equivalent of a mass of spaghetti code only Wozniak could understand. The final Breakout game had close to the original design estimate of 100 chips.

        Atari kept their end of the bargain though, paying Jobs $750 for the prototype and a huge $5000 bonus.

        The same year, Jobs left Atari and used the money to found his own startup, Apple Computer, along with Wozniak.

        Wozniak left Apple five years later after crashing his light plane, with an estimated net worth at the time of $45,000,000.

        So I'm sure Woz cried his way to the bank on that one.

        • If the story is true, at the time Jobs intentionally screwed over his supposed friend for money. What's the relevance of what happened after?
          • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @07:57PM (#35770970)

            So If I didn't pay you a small sum of money—money I never said I'd pay you—and then invested said money in a company which gave you a job doing exactly what you always wanted to do, which you worked at for five years and retired at 30 a multi-millionaire, I'd be screwing you over?

            Oh, and if you'd rather hear from Woz himself [woz.org]:

            Comment from E-mail:
            According to the site, you resigned from Apple. Is this true? And was you actually cheated by Jobs for $5000?

            Woz:
            No, I never resigned from Apple, and I still receive a small paycheck because I want to be an employee forever. The press constantly tries to make it out that Steve and I are enemies but we are not and have not been. You'll find virtually no negative words and definitely not a single person who ever saw us argue or fight. It's just something that the press likes to say. The Wall Street Journal once printed that I was leaving Apple because I was disgusted, even though I'd told the reporter that was not the case. If it were true, it's hard to imagine me staying on the payroll with employee agreements in effect. Every book from then on printed that story and it became history.

            I'm sorry that the story about Steve cheating me ever got out. First, it concerns something from long ago and even our memories are suspect. Second, it's good to forgive small things. Third, I would have gladly split money the way it was if he just said that he needed it. We were both like that. For example, around that time Steve went to India and ran into someone who had lost their plane ticket home. Steve actually gave that person his own ticket. Steve had no money but trusted the person to replace it, and sure enough the replacement was mailed to him and he got home.

            I got a great excuse to design a video game for Atari and that was worth more than any money to me. If I'd gotten more money, I might have wound up buying a computer kit or constructing a different kind. Many good things about the Apple I and Apple ][ came from not being able to afford expensive parts.

            • Woz: If I'd gotten more money, I might have wound up buying a computer kit or constructing a different kind. Many good things about the Apple I and Apple ][ came from not being able to afford expensive parts.

              And that is the actual reason why they can't forgive Jobs for his "theft": without it there would be no Apple.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by DerekLyons (302214)

            To soften the blow and make Jobs look like less of an asshole than he is?

          • If the story is true, at the time Jobs intentionally screwed over his supposed friend for money.

            If Woz was happy with the split of the $750, how did Steve actually screw him?

            What's the relevance of what happened after?

            Because it's obvious that your condensed understanding of a one-sided telling of the story didn't provide the same shocking reaction to Woz that it did to you.

            • by nomadic (141991)
              You are all missing the point of what "morality" is. The issue is not that Wozniak made out better in the long term. The issue is at the time, Jobs had a personal, internal decision to make. He made the immoral one. Because events ultimately took away the consequences to Wozniak, it doesn't fix the idea that he failed morally at the time.
              • You're not getting my point. I'm not saying Woz getting rich made up for it. I'm saying that obviously he didn't see it as the big immoral back-stab that everybody here does..

                • by nomadic (141991)
                  So? Why should I adopt Woz's moral judgments?
                  • So? Why should I adopt Woz's moral judgments?

                    You're wouldn't be. What you should be doing is realizing you dont have a clear picture of what actually happened.

                    • by nomadic (141991)
                      Which is why I specifically included the qualifier "if the story is true."
                    • Which is why I specifically included the qualifier "if the story is true."

                      You didn't do that when you judged Steve's decision as the 'immoral' one.

                    • by nomadic (141991)
                      Because for the sake of the conversation we had already established that my position was based on whether the story was true. There was no need to repeat it on every post.
          • Yeah, screwed him over by founding a company with him.

            Funny how when it comes to Steve Jobs, everyone suddenly has much higher moral standards and assume they know everything about some story they've read.

    • by joh (27088) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @06:40PM (#35770462)

      I always felt that those people who insist in demonizing Jobs and Gates look much more psychopathic than Jobs and Gates. They are surely less grounded and in touch with reality, even if just because they did *not* manage to get large companies up and running from nothing. They're purely negative and destructive, just reacting to something they don't understand or don't like, with no means to do something successful on their own.

      I'm not saying there are no psychopaths in the industry but mostly you find them in meager positions of power that cater to their special "talent". The "captains" mostly are bright and realistic guys, even if often with an iron will and/or personal quirks. Like it or not but success is the most clear indicator for psychological health we have. There are exceptions in certain dysfunctional communities, but usually true madness sinks to the bottom. Describing Jobs as a sociopath just because he has very clear (and obviously very correct) ideas how devices for the masses should work is, well, mad.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by hedwards (940851)

        Whatever it is that you're smoking, I want some.

    • by am 2k (217885)

      If you read the story about Woz and Jobs, you get a pretty clear picture: Woz is not a sociopath and retired after he got enough money for the rest of his life. Jobs didn't stop there, he kept on working as the CEO of various companies, driven by something else than earning enough money to live comfortably, like Woz did. This drive is the thing all CEOs of the large companies need to have, otherwise they wouldn't be in that seat.

      • If you read the story about Woz and Jobs, you get a pretty clear picture: Woz is not a sociopath and retired after he got enough money for the rest of his life. Jobs didn't stop there, he kept on working as the CEO of various companies, driven by something else than earning enough money to live comfortably, like Woz did. This drive is the thing all CEOs of the large companies need to have, otherwise they wouldn't be in that seat.

        And you actually believe that for Jobs it's the "more money than he can spend" thing?

    • by a_hanso (1891616)
      It's not really sociopathy that you see in business leaders. It's alpha male characteristics. Almost everybody in slashdot is a 'beta' -- they pull the weight of the herd, but they don't lead. They *can't* lead because they have stronger 'do unto others' brain wiring than alphas do. So we resent those who are not encumbered by it. There's no justice in it, but its reality. At least I think it is.
    • Jobs and Gates seem to display sociopathic, if not psychopathic characteristics. Is that necessary to succeed in business today?

      No, it's just necessary to drive ad-hits on sites like Slashdot.

  • by TerranFury (726743) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @05:44PM (#35770128)

    Here's the impression I get:

    Apple is a dictatorship run by an obsessive-compulsive designer. It works its employees hard to produce well-integrated, very refined products, following one man's vision.

    Google is a confederacy of teams joined by a common culture. People within the organization have considerable freedom to pursue their own agendas, and Google tries to harness this energy to make its search business more profitable, even if it means taking a scattershot approach.

    Apple has OCD. Google has ADD.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      And we're better off with both of them.

    • by aralin (107264)

      I've got OCD and ADD, so I should be as good as Google and Apple combined :)

      • I think that makes you Sony. Sorry. Hopefully, though, you didn't pick up the paranoid schizophrenia.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday April 09, 2011 @08:15PM (#35771064)

      Google's idea is basically to make money on their search technology, which means on ads. To that end they develop new things that help get people using their search, and make those things free. They aren't concerned about monetizing a given product so long as that product helps drive their primary business.

      Apple's idea is to make a ton of profit on all their hardware. Anything they introduce, they want high margins on. It is designed to be profitable as it is, not to try and drive other business. They tie their products together, but as a way to get you to buy more products.

      It's probably a very good thing Jobs didn't get hired on at Google because I think Bing and/or Yahoo would have crushed them now. Apple's strategy is not a bad one, as is clear by the money they make, but it is not one that would work in the market Google is in.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Apple's idea is to make a ton of profit on all their hardware. Anything they introduce, they want high margins on. It is designed to be profitable as it is, not to try and drive other business. They tie their products together, but as a way to get you to buy more products.

        Seems to me that with the iPhone/iPad and the "30% of everything" you're describing the old Apple. The new Apple seems quite busy making money on software too. Not that I have noticed the hardware getting any cheaper because of it...

      • by initialE (758110)

        When you put it that way, it is hard to see why Apple and Google simply can't get along. Their goals are different, their markets are different, they adopt different strategies and hire different types of people. Since they don't get along, or rather, don't get along anymore, I guess there must be something missing from the picture here.

    • Apple once had ADD too - back when they were flush with cash in the early days. It damn near killed them when the glory ebbed and they were left with the habits of being wealthy but nearly stone broke.

    • Apple has OCD. Google has ADD.

      Hey, fun! So I suppose Microsoft has Borderline Personality Disorder. Oracle has a thing with spousal abuse (Poor Sun!). Canonical has Asperger's. And Yahoo! was the retarded kid they finally institutionalized in Redmond.

      Where in DSM-IV do other tech companies fall?

    • Here's the impression I get:

      Apple is a dictatorship run by an obsessive-compulsive designer. It works its employees hard to produce well-integrated, very refined products, following one man's vision.

      Google is a confederacy of teams joined by a common culture. People within the organization have considerable freedom to pursue their own agendas, and Google tries to harness this energy to make its search business more profitable, even if it means taking a scattershot approach.

      Apple has OCD. Google has ADD.

      It's great for us when they compete.

    • They have one thing in common. They are both keeping PhD's from doing more valuable research (medicine, fundamental physics, etc.), just to sell some ads and marginally improve joe sixpack's user experience. How are they doing it? Well, I think these companies are playing psychological tricks (through the media) to make their employees work for them, for example by making them feel like rockstar programmers, while they could be true heroes in different fields.

      Having "the perfect user experience" is absolute

      • by lennier (44736)

        They have one thing in common. They are both keeping PhD's from doing more valuable research (medicine, fundamental physics, etc.)

        And for that we are all very grateful.

        Do you really want Apple designers playing with nuclear isotopes, or Google techs doing a bit of DNA hacking just to see what might happen?

        The world is safer because Apple and Google keep these guys off the street.

  • Probably cherry-picked words to create a non-existent controversy - and YOU'RE PAYING. Oh and Google causes cancer. Oh wait it cures it.

  • If Jobs led Google: In order to search for anything, we would need little hand-held keyboardless Google devices that ran only on one proprietary Google OS, which would randomly blow up and fail to work while held in your left hand, and any search result that violated Google's decency standards (which would forbid nudity or the mention of homosexuality) would be blocked.

    • by mbkennel (97636)

      Not quite. If Steve Jobs ran Google:

      The button called "I'm feeling lucky" would look like a "Go" in some exotic font which cost $500,000 to make.

      It would be the only button.

      The button presently called "Google Search" wouldn't exist, and he'd fire anybody who suggested it.

      Quoth Steve Jobs With Goatee: "Customers don't want to search! They don't want pages of all that crap on the Internet! They want to Go. Google is pronounced Go-gle. Not Goo-gle."

  • Innovation: one-click shopping and the two-point affine transformation.

    If the pinch gesture is the "best thing" about any of Apple's products, Jobs will be answering to Zeus in the afterlife, with Eudoxus pressing the case against.

    Zeus will also want to know why Jobs favoured that gaunt, black font named after a frigid hinterland rather than the voluptuous and pleasing Helenica, while in the background the inventor of the Antikythera clucks in disbelief, "All you have to show for immortality is the pinch ge

  • It might be in the book, but it's not a "Breaking News" kind of thing. It's been known for quite some time already!
  • by kuzb (724081)

    Thank christ this didn't happen. Steve Jobs would have stifled innovation so much and we'd be paying huge for every single google service we currently enjoy at no charge.

    Fuck Steve Jobs, seriously.

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