There are few men that have influenced the modern world more than Steve jobs. His products and innovations have left us with much of the technology we know and value and has left behind a global economic superpower. In speeches, he often comes across as witty, intelligent, and as a downright visionary. However, he also has had a reputation for being a truly awful human being. Many great innovators and creative minds have had circumspect moral compasses, but few can ever hold a candle to Steve Job’s notoriety. Here are some of the awful things Jobs did during his life and Tech career.
Steve Jobs was horrible to his business partners
Steve Jobs initial business partner and eventual Apple CEO was Steve “the Woz” Wozniack. While working together at Atari, Jobs had recruited Wozniack to build a scaled-down version of Pong. They had agreed that Wozniack and Jobs would pocket the ensuing profits evenly between them. Steve Jobs then sold the product and Wozniack received little over $700 from Jobs. However, Steve Jobs purposely did not take into account the major bonus he had received for developing the product so quickly and efficiently. Jobs lied about the significant amount of money involved in the transaction and kept the majority of the profits for himself. Despite this, Wozniack let bygones be bygones and they founded Apple together. Jobs would only continue to take advantage of Wozniack as time went on and even though Wozniack played a massive role in the development of Apple, he was largely shut out of many of their ensuing profits and fame.
However, Jobs was not specific in his treatment of Wozniack. This extended to his treatment of some of Apple’s other initial employees. Daniel Kottke was one of Apple’s first employees and even Job’s close friend who had accompanied him on a trip to India in 1974. Yet despite Kottke’s vital role in Apple’s founding and their close relationship, he never received stock options during his time at Apple. When Red Holt approached Jobs about Kottke and said “whatever you give him, I will match it”, Jobs replied “Ok I will give him zero”.
Jobs harassed candidates during interviews
Many employers treat their employees with contempt and lack of consideration, but Jobs took it to another level. During job interviews, it is reported by a few former employees that Jobs would ask them uncomfortable questions bordering on harassments. He would grind them on their past sexual activity, drug use, and other extremely personal questions. When they would drown out a response, he would simply deride them with snarky responses like “Gobble, Gobble”
Unfortunately, if they were able to get through the job interview it did not get much better from there. Jobs would continuously verbally and psychologically abuse his employees, justifying it as a test of ‘toughness’. Many reported him to be especially hurtful simply out of spite rather than the conventional bitterness of some again bosses. Wozniack once reported that most of his friends who worked at Apple reported that they would never work for Apple because of Job’s intolerable behaviour.
However, the most heartless likely comes with how he handled company cutbacks. It is not uncommon for companies to have to lay off mass sections of their employees, and often times it can come across as ruthless. However, almost always are they given due notice and a hefty severance check as compensation. Jobs however did not adhere to such a philosophy. When Jobs was working at Pixar in between his two stints at Apple, he decided to fire a large swath of his employees without severance pay. When one of his employees pleaded that they must be given at least a two weeks notice to which he responded, “Ok, but the notice is retroactive from two weeks ago”.
Steve Jobs pretended his daughter didn’t exist
While one may disapprove of his treatment of his workers and his business partners, this ruthlessness is not entirely uncommon among great minds in the business world and as a result can possibly be excused. However, few people can excuse his treatment of his first daughter Lisa. Lisa was born while Jobs was in his early 20s, a time when Jobs was at the height of his ambition for success. Jobs would deny paternity for many of the initial years of her life and even after admitting he was her father, would avoided paying child support. When he was finally forced to make child support payments, he planned it so the case would be closed days before Apple went public and he became a millionaire. Jobs had been abandoned as a baby and had been adopted so perhaps this influenced his view on familial obligations, but few have seen this as a legitimate excuse.
Jobs abused his daughter throughout her adolescent life
For years, his daughter and her mother lived in abject poverty while Jobs amassed one of the greatest fortunes in modern history. Later, he would finally acknowledge his paternal duties and even invited Lisa to move in with him as a teenager. However, according to her memoire “Small Fry”, this would only be the beginning of a long period of emotional and psychological abuse.
When she first moved in with him, he would forbid her from seeing her mother for six months, the only constant figure in her life before that. She was often made to feel lonely and devoid of love and affection during these years. In addition, he repeatedly withheld money from her and even refused to install heat in her bedroom.
However, perhaps the worst of his abuse manifested itself in one specific incident. Supposedly, Jobs once groped his wife and pretended to engage in sexual relations with her. He then proceeded to demand the nine year old Brennan-Jobs to stay and witness the ordeal, referring to it as a ‘family moment’.
While Brennan-Jobs may maintain her love for her late father, and even stayed by his side in the last moments of his life (during which he referred to her as a toilet), the reports from this memoire have left the majority of the public with a feeling that one of the greatest innovators in history was just an awful man.
Nonetheless, despite his ill-treatment of his partners, employees, and children, most are still indebted to his technological legacy and many of you are likely reading this article on a device he created.