‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ Biographer Believes Elon Musk is Next Great Visionary

PHOTO CREDIT: AFP/Getty Images
PHOTO CREDIT: AFP/Getty Images

In a standing room only event at Apple Inc.’s shiny SoHo store, people packed in to listen to Steve Jobs’ biographers talk the iconic CEO’s life and legacy.

But as it now should, the discussion shifted beyond just how the iPhone inventor should be remembered, to who the next great visionary might be. For longtime journalist and Jobs biographer Brent Schlender, the answer was an easy Elon Musk.

On Thursday, Schlender read passages from his new book “Becoming Steve Jobs” and discussed in length with co-author Rick Tetzeli his memories of covering the visionary CEO and Apple during a several-decade stint at The Wall Street Journal and then Fortune.

Jobs and Schlender were about the same age, and while he would never call them friends, he will say that they came of age together, having fallen ill around the same time in the early 2000s, having set up playdates with their children to watch unreleased Pixar movies.

The authors discussed the challenges of writing a book about a man who has been covered so harshly and extensively for decades. The first three people they interviewed for the book—one year after Jobs’ death—all cried during the interview, even though they had all been fired by him. Those most intimate with Jobs refused to participate until the book was halfway done.

The conversation on Thursday ranged from the way Jobs held venomous grudges and expected flawless work, to his softer side, like how he cried in the parking lot after being asked to leave a meeting of nonprofit leaders for taking his argument and temper too far.

Jobs was a complicated, emotional–at times internally-conflicted—man, they concluded. He was a freethinking genius who often diverged greatly from mainstream thought. He was blunt with his employees, demanded perfection, and had an unrivaled vision of the future that few have since matched. He expected the same passion and perfection of others, and acted with brute force when someone failed to meet those standards.

The personality traits of Steve Jobs have been examined through a microscope, picked apart, and analyzed in books and in the media both posthumously and while Jobs was alive. It has turned into a fight for his legacy. But as Schlender notes, Apple largely stays out of the conversation. It has moved on, become obsessed with the present and the future—as Jobs would have wanted.

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SOURCE: Market Watch, Jennifer Booton

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