Tweet by Dan Rose
chairman coatue ventures / 20 years at facebook and amazon
I had an opportunity to spend some time with Steve Jobs towards the end of his life. Over the course of a handful of meetings, he said many things I still remember. He was ruthless, decisive, rude, charming, gracious - sometimes all in the same breath! Here's a few stories:
Steve came to our office a few months before launching the App Store to pitch us on building a native Facebook app for iOS. I asked for marketing in return for our engineering investment, which Steve flatly rejected. But he did agree to have us on stage at their launch event...
Our best mobile engineer spent several months building an app to be ready for Apple's big reveal. The week prior to launch, Apple asked guest speakers to perform a dry run, after which Steve summarily canceled our appearance. He didn't like our presentation, and that was that.
I saw Steve shortly after I had signed a strategic partnership with Microsoft. We feared Google would eventually try to crush us (which turned out to be right) and formed an enemy-of-my-enemy alliance. Steve looked at us quizzically and said "You know Microsoft is evil, right?"
Steve once complained to us that Google had forced him to build Apple Maps: "I don't want to build maps, but Google won't put turn-by-turn directions on iOS, only on Android." Given our own concerns about Google, we developed another enemy-of-my-enemy alliance with Apple.
As the companies grew closer, Steve approached us about integrating FB's social graph into iOS. We spent many months negotiating. At one point Apple's team grew frustrated with us and wanted to work with Twitter, but Steve said "I don't like Twitter. Nobody I know uses Twitter."
I was taken aback once when Steve came to our office. He was skinny and his face was gaunt. As we sat in Zuck's 4th-story conference room with views of Stanford / Palo Alto, Steve kicked his feet up on the table, looked out the window and said wistfully "I just love this view."
Our final meeting was right before Steve died. He kept us waiting for 2 hours and finally arrived looking very frail. He apologized for being late, he had been receiving medical treatment. It occurred to me Steve had dragged his dying body into the office that day to see Zuck.
Our goal in that meeting was to convince Apple to let us build an HTML5 platform inside our app (this is still being discussed!). Zuck pitched hard for 30 minutes, after which Steve just looked at him and said "No, we won't allow you to build a platform on top of our platform."
Then Steve kicked his feet up on the table and told stories for hours. Zuck must have reminded Steve of himself 30 years earlier - another college drop-out founder on the cusp of redefining Silicon Valley. I suspect this is why Steve took Zuck under his wing in his final years.
Towards the end of the meeting, Steve talked about Apple's roadmap, something he never did with anyone outside his inner circle. He said they thought about building a TV but decided against it. Then he looked at us with a twinkle and said "Apple could build a really great car."
The night Steve died, my wife and I grabbed our kids and drove a half mile to his house in Palo Alto where we stood outside with dozens of other neighbors. It felt right to be there and pay our respects to this visionary who had died too soon. I felt lucky to have known him.
PS - Steve Jobs gave a tremendous commencement address at Stanford in 2005. It's a great reminder to be courageous, savor life and confront death. All the more poignant after his cancer relapsed a few years later.