Gratitude and Fury

Steve Jobs is dead. One of the top business minds of the last 150 years, as influential, world changing, and enterprising as Edison or Rockefeller, has now taken his place with them in history. I am really upset that he is gone.

I want to kick god in the nuts right now.

I was going to try and say something about how he has influenced my life, but I think it’s probably easier to just include the letter that I wrote to Jobs on the day that he announced his retirement. Knowing what I did about him, I was certain that the move implied that the end was close at hand for him.

Steve,

As a 42-year-old business owner, and developer, who has felt your influence almost my entire life, I would like to say “Thank you.”

Thank you for the Apple ]['s that were available in my junior high computer lab, that sparked my imagination and made me immediately realize that I wanted computers and technology to be a part of my life.

Thank you for defining the very industry in which we work. Thank you for the Mac, and thank you for creating NeXT, which blew me away in college.

Thank you for your triumphant return to Apple, and for bringing such vitality back into it.

Thank you for being such a titanic influence and inspiration when I struck out on my own and started my own businesses.

Thank you for refusing to accept mediocrity, and your iconoclastic victory over the carriers and smart phone vendors that were unwilling to make the deep investments and sweeping changes necessary to really make something great.

Thank you for dragging the world, kicking and screaming, into the future we were all promised by science fiction as kids, with beautiful computers, really usable flat screen computers, and video calls.

Finally, thank you for your body of work as a businessman and CEO. Your history is the richest, most insightful, and inspiring example of great leadership of our day, and very likely the greatest in history.

Thank you for really insisting on the best, and demonstrating that with hard work and good people, the best is possible.

I regret that I was never able to meet you, but I do not believe that a man of your caliber really would have benefited much from the introduction in any case.

I wish you peace, comfort, and happiness. You are my hero.

-Daniel Pasco, CEO

Black Pixel

The dent Jobs made in the universe is immeasurable, particularly once he started eyeballing the tablet and smartphone markets. No other company, and none of the carriers, were willing to do what it took to make this happen.

Jobs constantly reinvented himself: first during the Apple ][ era, then with the Macintosh, then at NeXT, then upon his return to Apple, then with the outrageous sprint of industriousness that produced the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone, the iPad, and the Macbook Air.

What was unbearably tragic about Steve was that his period of greatest triumph was also marked by his struggles with the ravages of cancer and declining health. It seems so grossly unjust that the most powerful and important person in our industry would have his incredible career cut short, ultimately betrayed by a once-healthy body that could no longer sustain him.

Some people have wondered what Jobs could have done with another 20 years of life. I don't know. I am certain that Jobs realized he had a finite amount of time left to accomplish some of the things he'd wanted to see happen. I think the clock started running after his first diagnosis and surgery: the last five years pretty much shout "this is a man checking off his life goals and pushing his company hard to get his unfinished affairs in order."

This, to me, was the point at which Jobs made his biggest dent: the pace with which Apple produced and refined their hardware and software over the last five years was absolutely unprecedented.

I wish Steve was still alive. I am certain that there are others like him out in the world, but I don't know if anyone with his unique blend of skills will ever meet a catalytic Woz to get the ball rolling. And, although his immediate successes were huge, it still took three separate times at the helm of several companies for Jobs to become the recognized giant he would ultimately be. Practically speaking, it just doesn't seem likely to happen again in the next 50 years.

Thank you for everything, Steve. I am so sorry your time was cut short, but god damn, your candle burned bright.


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