Steve Jobs and the revisionist history of Randall Stross

A few weeks ago the Sunday New York Times had an op ed by Randall Stross regarding Steve Jobs. Stross suggested that Jobs’ leaving Apple in 1985 was instrumental in him becoming the capable executive that he is today rather than “the worst personnel decision.”

In 1993, Stross released a book, Steve Jobs and the Next Big Thing, chronicling the NeXT computer company and its struggles. The book is out of print but I found an old copy and read it a few years ago. The book is well researched and Stross provides ample evidence to to support his conclusion that Jobs was an immature brat, a terrible leader, a liar, and a poor manager. The picture he paints of Steve Jobs is the classic story of the entrepreneur conquring the world, becoming egocentric and then failing miserably when attempts to replicate his initial success. When I read the book, in 2007, I was in possetion of invaluable data not available to Stross in 1993. Jobs masterful turn around of Apple.

So everytime I read a chapter I had to accept the anecdotes Stross recounted while rejecting his thesis and attempt to fit the data to a different conclusion. It was a fun reading experience.
In another recent bit of news on Steve Jobs, take a look at John Scully’s interview with Leander Kahney. Its a fascinating view of their relationship and what Steve meant to Apple.