Steve Jobs: Microsoft Will Not Change As Long As Steve Ballmer Is Running It

Steve Jobs: Microsoft Became Irrelevant, But I Appreciate What They Did

by Anton Shilov
10/27/2011 | 12:46 PM

Steve Jobs, the co-founder and former chief executive officer of Apple, said in an interview with his biographer Walter Isaacson that companies like Microsoft, IBM or HP were becoming “irrelevant” because at some points salespersons took the helm and the quality of products became less important than selling them in mass quantities.

 

“It’s easy to throw stones at Microsoft. They have clearly fallen from their dominance. They’ve become mostly irrelevant. And yet, I appreciate what they did and how hard it was. They were very good at the business side of things. They were never as ambitious product-wise as they should have been. Bill likes to portray himself as a man of the product, but he’s really not. Winning business was more important than making great products. […] I admire him for the company he built – it is impressive – and I enjoyed working with him,” said Steve Jobs in an interview for his biography (Amazon, B&N, iBooks).

According to the co-founder of Apple, big companies lose relevancy when they essentially become monopolies and salespeople start to lead them. The companies then change their focus from creating great products to earning maximum amount of money, which essentially locks the innovation.

“I have my own theory about why decline happens at companies like IBM or Microsoft. The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The company starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So, the salespeople end up running the company,” said Mr. Jobs.

There are a number of examples, including Apple itself under John Sculley, IBM, Xerox and Microsoft, the company that Mr. Jobs considered one of the main rivals.

“John Akers at IBM was a smart, eloquent, fantastic salesperson, but he didn’t know anything about product. The same thing happened to Xerox. […] It happened to Apple when Sculley came in, which was my fault, and it happened when Ballmer took over at Microsoft. Apple was lucky and it rebounded, but I don’t think anything will change at Microsoft as long as Ballmer is running it,” said Steve Jobs.

The legendary co-founder of the most valuable tech company in the world also condemned startup creators usually called “entrepreneurs” and accused them of unwillingness to work and build something truly valuable.

“I hate it when people call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ when what they are really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They are unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business. That’s how you really make a contribution and add the legacy of those who went before. You build a company that will still stand for something a generation of two from now. That’s what Walt Disney did, and Hewlett and Packard, and the people who built Intel. That’s what I want Apple to be,” explained Steve Jobs.

The co-founder of Apple passed away on the 5th of October, 2011.