Like many of my colleagues in Silicon Valley, I was having a fantastic day today. It is crisp in the shade, warm in the sun. The skies are a magical blue with puffy clouds floating like dreams. And when all seemed to be going well, an email in my inbox — without as much as the new message sound — arrived: Letter from Steve Jobs. It was as if the inbox was observing the solemnnity of the occasion. It is an end of an era.
The first thought that ran through my head was about Steve’s health, and I thought to myself that this cannot be good. I don’t care about him being the CEO or head of Apple. What I really do care about is his health. He wouldn’t be making this decision unless things were pretty dire.
It is incredibly hard for me to write right now. To me, like many of you, it is an incredibly emotional moment. I cannot look at Twitter, and through the mist in my eyes, I am having a tough time focusing on the screen of this computer. I cannot hear the sounds of the street or the ring of my phone. The second hand on my watch moves slowly, ever so slowly. I want to wake up and find it was all a nightmare.
And while I wish for him to have more time with his family, I am also being very selfish. I will miss the thespian who made inanimate objects like a computer become a thing to behold. A few years ago, I compared Steve to Howard Hughes using the line, “Some men dream the future. He built it.”
Steve Jobs, the maverick who has architected one of the greatest comebacks in the history of Silicon Valley, continues to prove that he is a modern-day Howard Hughes. Unpredictable, charming, loving, petulant, and perhaps more than anything deviously mysterious. But more than anything brilliant.
I have watched him from afar. I have learned from his decisions. And yes, there have been the products Apple has built — especially those in the most recent decade. Jobs has had an incredible influence on me.
Jobs (and by extension, Apple) has taught me (and I am sure others) a big lesson: If you want to change something, you have to be patient and take the long view. If Apple and Steve’s incredible comeback teaches us something, it’s that when you are right and the world doesn’t see it that way, you just have to be patient and wait for the world to change its mind.
Today, we are living in a world that’s about taking short-term decisions: CEOs who pray to at the altar of the devil called quarterly earnings, companies that react to rivals, politicians who are only worried about the coming election cycle and leaders who are in for the near-term gain.
And then there are Steve and Apple: a leader and a company not afraid to take the long view, patiently building the way to the future envisioned for the company. Not afraid to invent the future and to be wrong. And almost always willing to do one small thing — cannibalize itself. Under Steve, Apple was happy to see the iPhone kill the iPod and iPad kill the MacBook. He understands that you don’t walk into the future by looking back. If you do, you trip over yourself and break your nose. Just look at Hewlett-Packard, (s hpq) and you know what I am talking about.
As a founder of a company, Steve’s biggest gift to me is not the MacBook or the iPhone. Instead it’s the confidence to disrupt myself. Whitney Johnson, a founding partner at Rose Park Advisors recently wrote:
We typically define disruption as a low-end product or service that eventually upends an industry. But I’ve found that the rules of disruption apply to the individual too. Or as thought leader Jennifer Sertl writes, “innovation ultimately begins on the inside.”
Jobs is a perfect example of that. He could have settled for status quo and gone on as the chief executive. But why wait? After all, he is the man who can see the future better than most of us. And even if it means a full stop to what has been an incredible career.
146 thoughts on “Steve Jobs and the sound of silence”
wonderful tribute Om
great words Om. really touching to read.
Om, I know some have said that this reads like an obit, but I know where you’re coming from, in that his situation must be serious. Let me just say that you hit the nail on the head when you said “Some men dream of the future. He built it.” Truly poignant words . . . it’s how Steve rolls!
Really great tribute and article. Enjoyed it immensely. Well done Om.
Thank you Om. I felt what you had to express.
Hi Om… forgive the gender-ization here, but Steve succeeded because has balls. Your use of “petulant” is a mild way to put it. 🙂 The best thing that ever happened to him was (former Apple CEO) John Sculley kicking his ass out of the company back in ’86 or ’87. Steve never stopped feeling the pain of that, and it made him a despot. We are all the better for it.
Beautifully put, Om. Many a tear today, and many who in looking at their own life’s purpose and the roadblocks that one must fight through to realize one’s dreams, are left with a deepening appreciation of how much the inspiration provided by Jobs made THEM want to be…BETTER.
This is a keeper.
Great article with so many true words.
That was better than what I usually read from this site. Thanks!
I’ve got my money on Apple going back to what it was while Jobs was gone. It has already lost in the OS market, is facing pressure from Google in the smart phone market, and eventually someone will build a better iPod and they’ll be lost.
POLL: Now that Steve Jobs has resigned, what do you think will happen to Apple?
@rob man your a douche, sometimes u got to give a rest you as@$&le!
Er, Steve Jobs is not dead. He still works at Apple. This entire post is totally crazy.
I don’t know you from Adam, but, I’m guessing if I did, I wouldn’t be surprised at how callous and petty you are.
Go fu*k yourself, Rob. Take your inappropriate rants somewhere else, asshat.
I’ll take the other side of your bet and we’ll see who’s right.
Hmmm a MS fan, or maybe Android??
“I’ve got my money on Apple going back to what it was while Jobs was gone. It has already lost in the OS market, is facing pressure from Google in the smart phone market, and eventually someone will build a better iPod and they’ll be lost.”
Go market share… Remember HP, the largest maker of PCs in the world,,, trying to dump their PC business… and walking away from 5-6 Billion investment in mobile…
Yep, Apple is doomed…. doomed I tell you, and in 30 or 40 years you will see it…. 🙂
You sir, are an idiot.
I hope Steve has decades to enjoy time with his family, having fun and as Chairman of the Board of Apple! He’s full of surprises and could very well be around for another 20- 30 years…who knows for sure?
Very well put Om. It is tough to read anything today but yours and Gruber’s were the ones I wanted to read.
Was a moving tribute indeed. Though reads as an obituary as it regards Mr. Jobs in a past tense manner.
That is not the case today.
This is not an obituary and instead these are my feelings as someone who strives to create and work on his own tiny startup!
I hear you. Doing your own tiny startup is a lonely, hard road with many disappointments and set backs. It was seeing Steve wage his own battles and ultimately succeeding that gave me courage to continue on many occassions. I’m not there yet and today’s announcement makes me realize just how much I was still using him as inspiration. Now we know he’s a crutch we will not be able to lean on much longer, and we will have to make our own way without him.
Hi Om, Its truly a nice article…
BTW, Om Malik, you are one of those folks I regard as one of the stand outs in our industry.
Miss seeing you in video from the days when you appeared on Davorak’s Cranky Geeks podcast. Just loved your demeanor!
Steve go’s where others can only dream..
You’ve put my own feelings into words, Om. Thanks for that. I, too, am tearing up.
Thank you Om. Thank you Steve. I have been a fan since I saw you (Steve) introducing the Mac in 1984. I have three heroes: Albert Einstein, Ram Dass, and Steve Jobs. Thank you Steve, I am humbled by your genius.
Beautiful tribute. Thanks Steve.
LOL, he did great things, but it’s not like he’s Jesus.
So we can only feel sadness for Jesus? Idiot
Steve > Jesus
Only is San Francisco Frank.
Om, nice words, I’m rooting for Steve to stick around for a while longer.
Thank you Mr. Jobs.
Congratulations Mr. Cook.
Success to you both.
I am in shock.
We love you Steve!!!
Everything seems to be written as an obituary. For all we know, this could just be another in the progressive steps from iCEO to CEO, to now chairman where he can focus on just key relationships/things (China, etc) now that the company and it’s products are performing like a well oiled machine with a well thought out plan.
I’m hoping that’s the case.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
That came from the heart. Lovely.
Great words for the legend…
One sentence sums it call “You Rock Steve Jobs” even though I haven’t used any of apple products but I love your ideas and I love the way you execute those ideas.You will continue to remain relevant thank you for showing us that “An idea can change the world”
Om, you have said that you only write when you have something to say. You certainly did today. Thanks for a thoughtful tribute that is better than anything else I’ve read tonight.
Wonderful article Om. But let me point out that he is not dead yet 🙂
Inspirational, heartfelt and well read. Not sure that many tributes will ever come close.
lnspirational, great tribute to Steve, not just Apple’s CEO but the man in tech and business.
This one’s a keeper. Thank you, Om, for acknowledging Steve Jobs’ many gifts to us both as individuals & consumers.
Yes, thanks Steve. Let’s celebrate his awesome career and incredible accomplishments; best wishes…
this is one of the best pieces you have written.
Great words for great man, wonderful tribute. Thanks for sharing..
Nicely written OM!
Om, totally reflects my own thoughts. Here’s my own recollections of the career I’ve had a front-row seat on: https://plus.google.com/111091089527727420853/posts/jSzLAPTpjfV
Aside from my being a diehard Mac user since college (’88), Apple has, by far, been THE single brand that’s influenced and inspired my life the most! Thanks, Mr. Jobs, for the greatest company in the world…and I hope we can look forward to many more years of your involvement.
Beautifully said Om. Never been sad about a CEO resigning but clearly he is gravely ill. No doubt the naysayers will have their say but they can only dream where he achieved – Apple & Pixar in one life time, a buddhist & a maverick! I wish him well with whatever time he has left 🙂
Om, thanks for expressing so well the emotions and feelings many of us are going thru today!
Can’t stop reading again and again.very gripping
Thanks for sharing, you expressed my thought exactly.
Thanks, Om, for writing this. Indeed, thanks, Steve.
Hmmmmm All I can say is…
..SERIOULY ???? You are going to tell me that “It is incredibly hard for me to write right now” because a person that you have NEVER met in your life is deciding to quit his job for what may or may not be health reasons ???? Honestly, I find this either:
1) Patently ridiculous that you would shed a tear for someone you have never met
2) Disgustingly money grabbing to try to use the health status of a person unknown to you on a personal level to obtain some more hits on your website
You are going to tell us that you “cannot hear the sounds of the street or the ring of my phone” because you heard Steve Jobs, with whom you’ve NEVER shared a beer, broken bread, seen laugh when you told a stupid joke or gone through a tough personal moment together with, is quitting his job ???
Well, all I can tell you is….
Either, cry me a river and be a little bit more genuine !!!
Learn to care about people that do matter to you on a personal level ….I dunno, your high school friends, your long lost Aunt Bertha, or the milkman you have said hi to a couple of times in your life !!!
Alfredo, stop being cynical.
Very good observations, Alfredo…OM, now a little Shanthi, &.. OM…some kind of hired Rudali…(refer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudaali)
Alfredo, it’s obvious you’re not a fan of Steve Jobs. This article was written by a fan and appreciated by fans.
If you’ve ever had a favorite actor, musician, celebrity or role model, you’d understand what it’s like to see that person’s successful path come to an end.
However, If your mind is shallow enough to slay another man’s thoughts as he expresses reaction to disappointing news, then I can already sense that your intellect is absent of any real capabilities to dream and venture forward on a path, based on the pavings of great leaders.
In other words, get a life quick. Your response above obnoxiously declares that you are undoubtedly a moron.
No, on the contrary. I did try to place me in Om’s shoes and think “If the persons unknown to me that I admire most were to die, would I feel the same way Om did” and the answer to me was a resounding “No”.
It is not that my mind is “shallow enough” as you put it. It is simply that my mind and my sould are far more full with care for people I have actually shared experiences with to KNOW what really caring for somebody whose crossed his/her life’s path with me means.
Honestly, ThirstyTech, if you state that you could not operate yesterday after hearing Steve Jobs was quittng I tell you, go out and live a little, live life with people that are real and tangible to you so that you can learn what REALLY caring about somebody means and not feeling sad that somebody that you have lived vicariously through by reading about him/her on online blogs decides to quit.
Until then, let me go out and dig my mini violin from under my imaginary chest to cry me a river for your loss 🙂
I think Steve would think otherwise of Om’s article because he would be able to see the words of praise, Nay, the effect he had had on Steve’s life. And Steve would be able to recognize Om’s genuineness in expressing what so few can. You’re obviously not of that ilk – that is not surprising.
As for breaking bread – seriously?? Why don’t you get past your own psychological complex and get a life and let others express freely and proudly what you clearly are incapable of?
You just remain on surface. That’s why you think that only having a coffee with someone can make you emotionally attached with him. People actually connect on ideas. Steve has been a guru to many. People have been trying to search his soul. His every quote is an evidence of his brilliance and wisdom. That wisdom can be applied to a large number of things and it makes sense.
People can die(I am glad he is alive and healthy), but their ideas live. Forever.
I can understand what Om felt. You need to get a life.
I love the tribute, but do you know something I don’t? If not, then the tone of this piece is very much obituarial (if that is a word) and I think premature. Let’s not write him off yet.
Horrible,melodramatic piece,reads like an obit.Steve is alive, FYI.
everything in this world has a beginning and an end. so dont get too misty eyed !!
Om, you captured the utmost darkness of the moment with a perfect tribute.
Here’s to a crazy one. Love him or hate him, one thing you cannot do is ignore him. He has changed the world and we will never go back. — cribbed from Apple’s 2006 “Think Different” ad.
Om, did you ever interview Steve?
Awesome article…you are truly a gifted writer
One of the best written article so far for Steve Jobs
Very Well Written !!!
Personally I think we should separate ‘vision’ from ‘strategy’. Apple is a company with a vision and great execution.
But they never created the AppStore or iPhone with a strategy for over 5 year. The AppStore happened to be a success because of great execution. With the success they quickly steered away from suggesting developers using HTML5, having real apps instead. It’s vision and ‘short term strategy’ if you will, but mostly: great execution.
As of today all the other appstores are clunky in comparison and there is no ‘computer company’ who has elegant product design and software.
Now only if they fix Lion 😉
didn’t apple just make phones and proprietary white things?
Yes, that’s what they do. Everything else is just the soap opera part of it.
Magnificent article, about a magnificent visionary.
One of the greatest combacks in tne history of Silicone Valley? Which is even to compare with Jobs’ resurrection of Apple (and renewal of IT)? NONE, by far. SJ rules!
Great article and a great tribute.
A Beautiful Tribute Om.
Brilliantly described Om Malik, thank you!
cant stop reading again n again!so gripping
I’m 66 and more than 45 years in the it business, after today nothing is than before.
wonderful tribut to steve, i am fully agree!
Very poetically written.
Best wishes, prayers, and the utmost thanks, Steve, you complete legend.
Beautiful Om. Great tribute to a great genius.
These words will never be forgotten. I appreciate the effort and time that Steve jobs putted into this company & provided some masterpieces in our daily lives.
Very heart touching..
What a great article. You not only honor the life work and reamrkable brillance of Steve Jobs, you provide some profound insights for everyone related to guiding change, innovation, leadership and dreaming vs building the future. If only more people had this type of thinking and discipline…just imagine. Thank you
“it’s the confidence to disrupt myself”
Great post Om.
stirring stuff, this however –
“I cannot look at Twitter, and through the mist in my eyes, I am having a tough time focusing on the screen of this computer. ” may be a maudlin bridge too far. If steve jobs were within reach, he would likely crack you over the head.
Well said. I could not have expressed this any better. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
He just retired, not died.
Very touching to read and even inspiring. The thought that comes to mind is, are we writing his eulogy early so he can read it? If so awesome job! Steve is definitely a person who hasn’t let the confines of status quo box him in. He definitely color’s outside the box and a leader among leaders. Yes, he seems to have said goodbye under his terms and what else can any of us hope for than that. Even in what seems to be an goodbye he is looking beyond the moment. Steve, you have taught the world a Hugh lesson. May you see beyond the foreseeable future to reap the benefits of your life’s work, may you spend the remainder of your days on earth with the ones you love and love you. And when and only when the end comes please know your work isn’t done. There must be a need for the largest refresh unknown to man. God Bless!
One of the best and most touching pieces I’ve ever read in GigaOm or any other blog for that matter. Captures the emotion many of us in the technology industry feel to a tee.
I think you should be thanking musicians for Apple’s success. With music, there would be no ipod, iphone, etc.
Touching and true. Steve Jobs has truly made a difference, in so many ways.
Very well written Om, but i agree with some of the comments, Steve Jobs is still to stay, he has merely resigned from the CEO position at Apple.. We wish him the best of health and wish him sincerely that he is able to battle his health problems. The last decade under his leadership brought about some phenomenal products from Apple and we all are enjoying using them in our daily lives..
Point of Note, Jobs doesn’t see the future, in fact he doesn’t profess to know the future, rather he believes in taking calculated decisions in bringing together techno-ideologies which intend become futuristic. And that’s what makes him a brilliant mark apart from the rest.
Thanks, Om. And here’s Steve, from his 2005 Stanford commencement speech –
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
I am just one more misty-eyed MacAdict, saying, Thank you Steve.
Get a grip!
Nice article, it clearly expresses how you feel and incites the same enthusiasm within us. Praying for Steve’s health!!
Bravo! Unlike the analysts that drive our capital markets (and impact stock prices with unfounded and subjective commentary on what it means for Jobs to step down) you have hit the nail on the head: there is positive in this. Even though I agree that, for Steve, this kind of personal disruption is good for him as well (http://blog.jasonthibeault.com/index.php/2011/08/22/are-you-disruptive/) it’s also positive for the company. As humans, maybe we tend to look at the negative. When we say “Steve Jobs has resigned,” we all hang our heads and wonder what lies in store for the future. Rather, why not look at “Steve Jobs has resigned” and give a thumbs up? This is a new era for a venerable company. Steve built a culture of innovation and vision within Apple, not just a company bent on selling products (well, okay, there’s that too). That culture will not leave with Steve. And the new CEO, Tim Cook, is well entrenched in it. I believe that disruption will come for Apple, but slowly, and that when it comes, we should all be excited for the results.
thank you for your beautiful words about steve jobs! he is amazing! i wrote about “10 presentation secrets of steve jobs” at: http://clickwowdesigns.com/10-presentation-secrets-of-steve-jobs/
let’s learn from this great man!
Although I thought it was a nicely put tribute to Steve Jobs, I was put off by the drama of how “incredibly hard” it was to write those lines, the teary eyes, etc. Thousands of people at RIM, Cisco, and HSBC have received emails from their leaders these past weeks, telling them their positions had been eliminated, and that they would be escorted out by security guards, getting their layoff papers on the way out. Now, that is an email that shocks your existance. The “Letter from Steve Jobs” you received is just about someone taking a different position at your company. Try a layoff letter if you want something to shock your world…
good to read techzole.com
Steve the end of Apple……… The aggressive invention………
Fourteen years ago, the only person who believed that the Apple we see today was a possibility was Steve Jobs.
Remembering August 1997 http://www.minonline.com/news/Steve-Jobs-Repolished-a-Tarnished-Brand_18845.html
I think Steve is way too smart to not have planned his exit in detail. I think Steve is going to be around for a while ,but he wants to ensure that when he really,really leaves Apple & others dont feel his absence.
Don’t cry for the company (they’ll be fine, or they won’t: that’s capitalism for you) or the despotic businessman (he’ll be fine: as chairman, he’ll still provide vision), but shed a tear for a human being whose body is failing him.
Mr. Jobs and Apple like many others in creative industries have been the facilitators of our careers: driving our productivity, ideas, dreams and enthusiasm. I’ve been an Apple Sys Admin, an Apple consultant, and hard core Mac user and occasionally pissed off vocalist when they make mistakes.
However, through it all Steve Jobs passion, vision and enthusiasm for Apple and it’s products as well as Pixar and now Disney has been a visionary influence and example in my entire adult life. SInce my first Apple IIe and my Lisa my career as well as much of my life’s activities have evolved around Mr. Jobs vision and ideas. I owe him a world of thanks for helping drive my passion, career and firm belief in and hope for the future.
Thanks you for all you have done and your leadership and passion. Thank you Mr. Jobs for not taking the ordinary path, for not giving in, for pushing us forward. May God bless you and your family and I pray the rest of your time with us are happy, comfortable, and satisfying.
C’mon!!! Who died Christ? Be serious
Jobs is an unique and genius person who led and created amazing products. Thanks for the jobs done!
For the rest, I’d rather to quote Steve Jobs himself:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.”
he was so passionate and inspiring. Apple can not fill that gap ever.
Very nice, Om. Thx
Well said sir, well said. I hope he makes another comeback !
He’s not dead…He quit his job for health reasons. He’s not Nelson Mandela for god sakes.
Very well said Om. I wish Steve all the best.
Very nice Om! I love reading words from the heart. I worry about the same thing. Let’s hope he is retiring only. Very talented executive and deserves time with his family.
I want Jobs to be present at the grand opening of his new, and totally his, Spaceship Building.
“I cannot look at Twitter, and through the mist in my eyes, I am having a tough time focusing on the screen of this computer. I cannot hear the sounds of the street or the ring of my phone. The second hand on my watch moves slowly, ever so slowly. I want to wake up and find it was all a nightmare.”
Seriously man, get a life!
Taking, for taking both words and emotions out of my mouth.
“Steve is an amaizing man a true visionary and a trend setter,we proud of you man
As I understand it, Steve Jobs will not be gone, just not working on the day to day stuff. that can keep him in the company and still creative as ever.
This brought tears in my eyes. Thanks for sharing this Om.
I am sure, in time Steve will be remembered in the same way as Michael Angelo, or Leonardo DaVinci. One of the great contributors to all our lives.
Thank you, Om, for expressing so eloquently what is in my heart and mind at this moment.
Incredibly touching and insightful, Om
Awesome words Om. Thanks much.
I always enjoy your articles and your thoughts and points are spot on with SJ’s legacy. I hope he has many years left to enjoy his family and close friends. Everything else is irrelevant.
Well motivated but seriously over-the-top…
I fear you may have lived too long in the bubble of SV…
Wow how perfectly eloquent.
Forget Steve Jobs. I can’t stand this tech bubble blowing hagiography that has gone down since Jobs’s retirement as Apple’s CEO. Tech rag Gigaom found Om Malik found out and cried: “It is incredibly hard for me to write right now. To me, like many of you, it is an incredibly emotional moment. I cannot look at Twitter, and through the mist in my eyes, I am having a tough time focusing on the screen of this computer.” Come on. So much for the illusion of journalist impartiality. Malik’s sentiment is serious. He is one of the many who’ve gotten rich on selling the illusion of Jobs as a visionary auteur. Silicon Valley, ever the retailers of vaporware–technology facilitated experiences we neither need nor want nor, often, come to market–needs fantasy as much as Hollywood need the illusion of celebrity to prop ups its market domination in the selling of stardust. http://savageminds.org/2011/08/31/forget-steve-jobs/
touching indeed. if only people in high places not only emulated steve jobs instead of just appreciating his vision.
Thank you Om!
Your article was very touching me and my company. I’ve been an apple fanboy since I was 15, now I’m 24 and have never been so proud to be a nerd. Steve was an amazing idol and absolutely changed my life forever. I won’t make it long as I don’t want to bore you, but the one thing I’m going to miss more than anything… I don’t need an iPad 3, iPhone 5 or SiRi. Give me one last keynote. I miss the old ones that got me hooked on apple. “one more thing” he was truly an inspiring presenter. I laugh in comparison to Microhard presentations. And his vision of not only his products, but his buildings an how proud he was of them. Also, some people do t understand his importance with Pixar. You should probably research that. Overall, a simply extraordinary person. A gift to the world in my eyes. I’ll miss you Steve, thanks for responding to the dozens and dozens of emails i’ve sent throughout the years, even the stupid ones.
What an icon…