Great people? Steve Jobs, the Occupy movement, and us

by Bill Gunderson

Steve Jobs was a Great Man. Not always a Nice Guy. That is the secret the Occupy Wall Street crowd does not know.

Apparently, the greatest industrialist in American history would yell at people. He insisted they do it his way. He fired them if they did not. Sometimes he fired them if they did.

Steve Jobs set out to change the world though one simple goal: perfection. Although he had to settle for excellence, he inspired a lot of people along the way.

Jobs would not have been welcome at the Occupy Wall Street protests. He was not a “wave your fingers in the air if you want to let me talk” kind of fellow.

Nor did he care a darn about creating jobs. Steve Jobs was all about creating excellent goods and services for people. The jobs were a side effect, not a driving force.

From what anyone can tell, members of the Occupy Wall Street crowd think that talking about creating jobs by waving your fingers is the same as actually creating jobs. Of course it is not. And if the Occupy Wall Street crowd would put down their iPads and iPhones for a moment, they could learn why by looking at a tale of two companies:

Twenty miles apart in Silicon Valley sit two buildings: One is empty, funded by $535 million of guaranteed government loans. The other is a bustling campus that belongs to the largest publicly-traded enterprise in the world– started by two guys in their mom’s garage. As for government guarantees, they were not even guaranteed their moms would let them work there.

One is thriving. The other is dead. One changed the world. The other may change an election. One is Apple. The other Solyndra.

Solyndra touted its solar panels as unique. Scientists, however, saw little that was revolutionary. But the marketing people did not want to hear that. Neither did a bedazzled Department of Energy before it cut them a check for half a billion.

A Livermore movie theater was one of the first to install the government-funded solar panels. They were not as effective as advertised. But few knew. Or wanted to know.

Construction of Solyndra’s state-of-the art plant continued. Somehow, it is human nature to be more lavish with other people’s money, something Jobs and Steve Wozniak never experienced.

Solyndra opened its Taj Mahal of plants in September 2010 with much fanfare. It was nothing like Steve Jobs’ garage. But it did have alternative energy A-listers such as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Vice President Joe Biden.

For $535 million, Solyndra created 3,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs– that lasted one year. The new plant was shuttered on August 31, 2011. It was never close to breaking even.

Many knew that before Solyndra admitted it. In May of 2010, Solyndra’s own auditors issued as “going concern” letter– issued only when auditors believe that serious doubt exists that the company will survive beyond twelve months.

Mysteriously, this did not stop President Obama from showing up in Silicon Valley in May to hail Solyndra as a model for a bright new future in our economy.

He had the right idea. Just the wrong building.
Bill Gunderson is a San Diego financial radio talk show host, author, and frequent guest in national financial news outlets; his commentaries have appeared in over 100 newspapers.

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Most of the Apple jobs are overseas and the iPod etc are just
expensive toys not really necessary. So what is his legacy?
I think Thomas Watson was a greater industrialist by far among

Jobs was a salesman- and he did a great job of selling not only his devices, but also himself and his company.

mer- you are correct, TJW, Sr was one of the greatest industrialist- honest too. And TJW Jr carried that legacy on as well.

Aaron Feuerstein is an exemplary citizen. Maybe this is the "secret" industrialist that few know about.

Jobs was among the greatest of American innovators, but there is no shortage of public awareness recently.

Steve Jobs did not further technology, he just motivated people at his company to dress up existing technologies to look prettier. Steve Wozniak, Lee Felsenstein, the Xerox PARC team, and hundreds of other unsung innovators deserve the credit that Steve Jobs receives. Perhaps if journalists took the time to (a) learn their history and (b) learn about their computers we would not see so much Jobs/Apple worship.

B- and your point is?

Jobs couldn't tell you why the screen lit up (that is what Woz could do), but he could make it an experience for everyone else.

His vision was "sell the sizzle".....and he sold a lot of sizzle.

HarryD --

How did Steve Jobs make "it" an "experience for everyone else?" Neither Steve Jobs nor Apple brought computers into everyone's homes. Neither Steve Jobs nor Apple ushered in the age of global computer networks or any of the popular applications of the Internet (e.g. the world wide web). It was not Steve Jobs nor anyone at Apple who figured out how to make easy-to-understand software interfaces.

Steve Jobs was good at building markets for certain innovative products. How does that make him worthy of the praise that the media has heaped upon him? Why does Steve Wozniak receive only secondary mention? Why does nobody bother to mention Lee Felsenstein or Ed Roberts? If the CEOs of companies that changed the world deserve to have praise piled upon them, why not Bill Gates, whose company's products have done far more in making computers available to "everyday people" than Apple ever did? Why not the CEOs of other successful corporations?

So go ahead, explain why Steve Jobs deserves our adoration and praise. I am not interested in euphemisms about "sizzle," I want to know what great thing he did that overshadowed the work of all the people who ushered in the computer age.

-- B

The great moments in history photo op: "I'm pushing for Great Jobs in Green Technology/ the stimulus spending is working" and Obama. "Mission Accomplished" and Bush. "president hugging someone he does know but he did" and Clinton. "No new taxes" and Bush 1. "Cut taxes for the wealthy and good times are coming" Reagan. "I pardoned him to get past it" Ford

I'm thinking that you felt like you made a point here. You didn't. But you did offer the easy smack-down example that gets used in Rhetoric 101 courses, so all was not in vain.

B- jealous, huh? HE DIED! That's why.

Adoration and praise? Your words not mine. Jobs was but one person who "ushered in" the computer age. When people die, they become cult heroes to many

He was a good sales person who was able to revolutionize the world with his products and convince people to buy them when they were outrageously expensive compared to todays market and technology.

If that is not good enough, why don't you come up with someone who deserves "adoration and praise". Dead or alive...........

Woz was not in front of the people and he is not dead yet...........he will get a lot of praise when he passes I am sure.