Speaking of Grains of Salt Regarding Businessweek Stories

From a Peter Burrows piece for Businessweek, “Working With Steve Jobs”, interviewing former AOL CEO Barry Schuler:

Steve Jobs was a genius, but he knew his limits.

“He was never a guy who tried to make believe he had expertise in something,” said Barry Schuler, now a partner at venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

That was clear to Schuler when he got a call from Jobs in early 1997 to come over to his old offices at NeXT Software in Redwood City, Calif. Jobs, at that point, hadn’t yet agreed to run Apple on a permanent basis.

“What’s this Internet thing?” Schuler recalled Jobs asking. “I don’t get it. What are people doing on it? What do they like about it?”

Steve Jobs didn’t get the Internet? In 1997? OK, sure. Here’s Steve Jobs, in his classic interview with Wired in 1996:

The Web is exciting for two reasons. One, it’s ubiquitous. There will be Web dial tone everywhere. And anything that’s ubiquitous gets interesting. Two, I don’t think Microsoft will figure out a way to own it. There’s going to be a lot more innovation, and that will create a place where there isn’t this dark cloud of dominance. […]

If you look at things I’ve done in my life, they have an element of democratizing. The Web is an incredible democratizer. A small company can look as large as a big company and be as accessible as a big company on the Web. Big companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars building their distribution channels. And the Web is going to completely neutralize that advantage.

Yeah, he didn’t get it at all.

Update: Here’s Jobs in 1985 — 1985! — in his classic interview with Playboy:

The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people — as remarkable as the telephone.

Thanks to John Siracusa for the link.

Thursday, 13 October 2011