Is the ‘Real’ Steve Jobs the Pixar one or the Apple one?

[Note: Since posting this, it has been brought to my attention that Dan Lyons is not the “former” Fake Steve Jobs, but that he still pretends to be Fake Steve. I am happy to set the record straight.]

Today, Day Lyons, the real writer who pretends to be the former Fake Steve Jobs , has some rather fanboyish sounding things to say about the Real Steve Jobs.

Here’s a short quote:

OK. Deep breath. Let’s admit that Jobs is a royal pain in the neck. Most of us probably wouldn’t want to work for him, or live next door to him, or have to negotiate deals with him. He’s spoiled, and arrogant, and he has a terrible temper. But he’s also brilliant. Those lines at the Apple store today? Tim Cook didn’t create those. Neither did Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief, or Ron Johnson, the retail boss who runs the stores, or even Jon Ive, Apple’s design guru. No, Steve Jobs is the one who gets those people to line up. He’s the one with the vision. He’s the one who inspires the fanboys.

Bottomline for formerly Fake Steve, writer Dan Lyons: Apple is not Apple without Steve Jobs. (But strangely, his reason boils down to a rather technical one: his Mac computer works while his PC crashes.)

I hope Steve Jobs runs Apple for a long time, but I think that he’s built the company into something that can survive his departure to do other great things.

First, that team Dan lists is a Dream Team: Phil Schiller, Ron Johnson, Jon Ive (especially), and Tim Cook are who make it happen at Apple on a day-to-day basis — they and the deep, deep bench they have at the company. And, frankly, the did create those lines.

The Leander Kahney book, Inside Steve’s Brain (which I thought was only so-so when I read it) makes some interesting comparisons between Steve’s radically different style as CEO (and owner of) Pixar to his style as CEO of Apple.


A sketch by Disney and
Pixar animator Floyd Norman.

At Pixar, Jobs built a company (Pixar) into something he sold to Disney for $7.4 billion that had a radically different “vibe” than Apple. Here’s a quote from an essay by Floyd Norman, a Disney Legend who also worked on several projects at Pixar when Steve Jobs was CEO.:

“I was lucky enough to be at Pixar Animation Studios when Jobs was boss. Known for his legendary tantrums and bull-headed behavior; Jobs had suddenly become a mature, mellow individual. Perhaps his years in “exile” had changed him, or maybe it was because he was now a father. Known for his excessive meddling, Steve was totally “hands off” at Pixar. And although he maintained a modest office at the company, I never saw him encroach on Pixar’s creative process. Unlike most high profile, power-obsessed executives; Steve was smart enough to leave his artists alone.”

I know, I know. People can easily and convincingly argue that Apple is different than Pixar — that Steve Jobs is Apple and vice versa: He didn’t “start” Pixar, but did Apple.

But the companies are extremely similar in many ways: over-the-top creative geniuses who are at the tops of their games and who consistently create wonderful products loved by critics and consumers, alike.

Jobs is sometimes compared to Walt Disney — but not because of what he did at Pixar, but what he’s done at Apple. The reason, of course, is that the myth of Steve starts out in a garage and involves computers and the myth of Walt starts out with drawing cartoons: Steve will forever be that computer guy and Walt will forever be that artist. However, Walt Disney became the Walt Disney Company for lots of reasons (and people, notably is brother Roy) far beyond his mythology.

When he died 1966, many of the things we today know Walt Disney for were unfinished.

So there’s this question: Can Apple be like Pixar and flourish without Steve Jobs being the company’s “mascot” or tyrant or whatever it is he’s supposed to be?

Can Apple survive Steve deciding to retire to find new challenges to solve?

I believe it can with a team like Phil Schiller, Ron Johnson, Jon Ive (especially) and Tim Cook running things.