The Steve Jobs Movie: Controversy and Nostalgia

 

jobs-header-halfsize_130703Jobs, the Steve Jobs bioptic movie with Ashton Kutcher, was nostalgic and emotionally moving for me.   It stirred up the “roller coaster ride” feelings we felt during the high technology renaissance in Silicon Valley, California.

The movie is controversial.   Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder, thinks it is good but lacks accuracy.  (Wozniak is consulting for another movie in-progress, based upon Walter Isaacson’s official Jobs biography.) However, Ashton Kutchner seems believable as Steve in all his showmanship at Apple product introductions, clever wheeling and dealing, and intense emotional outbursts.  Jobs often took full credit for his team members’ brilliant work, at times he denied stock and respect to those who labored for him. There are many other aspects of Jobs’ life that are touched upon, including his odd diet, love and family life, and loneliness.

The movie covers Steve’s early college days through the IPod introduction.  It seemed to stop too soon.  I wanted to see Steve through his later years, the years of iTunes, iPad, and iPhone, and his time at Pixar.  I wanted to see him deal with his health, mortality, and his regrets.   But it is hard to get an entire life captured in a 2-3 hour movie.

I worked in Silicon Valley during the 1980s through 2005.  I remember the driven, creative talent focus, and crazy-frenzied activity.  There was a contagious attitude of exuberance, of challenging the status quo that so many startup and established companies felt.  I knew people who worked at Apple.  Designers and artists in the early years were happy and excited.  Stock options were coveted.   Later, I met some engineers and marketing pros who felt more like soldiers in an army.  (“You got a phone call from Steve at 1 a.m. – he demanded a marketing report presented that morning”.)  Apple people put up with Steve because they wanted to hitch a ride on his coattails, build something great, and get rich.

Realistically, no one movie or book can capture the full experience of Steve Jobs’ life or this period of time.  My hope is that we can better understand this era through all books and movies to strike up some serious discussions about what has made Silicon Valley great (and crazy).

What can we use from this to build a model to expand our thinking now and innovate into the future?   We critically need this to push through the doldrums we’re facing today, what do you think?

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