Published Friday, July 28, 2000, in the
San Jose Mercury News
THE SWING SHIFT
Author replows old ground on Jobs and Apple
WHEN he set out to write ``The
Second Coming of Steve Jobs,'' 301 pages about Silicon
Valley's ultimate phoenix figure, author Alan Deutschman
says he was looking for Steve Jobs the person, not the icon.
Right there, Swing Shift got nervous.
``I set out to discover the deep sources of his character
and motivation,'' he writes in the preface. ``I strived to
find out where he got his unusual ideas about leadership,
management and the creative process.''
Ugh. We read on, and on, and on, trying -- striving, even
-- to answer the question: Besides the people Jobs tormented
along the way, who really cares?
The last 15 years of Jobs' journey have been chronicled
ad nauseum in newspapers (including this one), magazines, TV
documentaries and books. And now this.
Coming on the heels of so many other ``inside'' Silicon
Valley stories, including Michael Lewis' stellar portrayal
of Netscape's Jim Clark, Deutschman's effort -- done without
Jobs' consent or cooperation -- seems forced and filled with
The biography, told in breathless Hollywood style, is due
out from Broadway Books in September. It opens in 1985, with
just after the close of Jobs' first reign at Apple Computer
Inc. Jobs, stripped of his power in a boardroom coup by John
Sculley, is depressed, angry and defiant. According to one
friend, he is also possibly suicidal. He dreams of escape:
He'd like to fly on one of the space shuttles. He considers
running for U.S. Senate in California. Oy!
Eventually, Jobs returns to reality, starts his next
company called, yes, NeXT, assembles Pixar Animation
Studios, and ultimately retakes the Apple throne. Along the
way, he tries, unsuccessfully, to win over the staff at
Pixar. (Deutschman, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair
and a former Silicon Valley correspondent for Fortune,
claims Jobs also tried to push award-winning director John
Lasseter out of Pixar, to no avail.) We hear about his
strong-willed girlfriends; a bout with bulimia; his envy of
Bill Gates; his insulting behavior (toward Heidi Roizen!
Shame on him!) and his unorthodox route to the marital
altar. No wonder officials at Apple declined to comment on
RETURN TO SUNNYVALE: It started as a social
history of Silicon Valley, but ended up a story about
growing up in Sunnyvale, his family, and the line between
success and failure. That's what writer and former resident
Jeff Goodell told a crowd at Barnes & Noble in San Jose
this week during a stop to promote his memoir, ``Sunnyvale''
(Villard Books, 252 pages; $24.95). During a 90-minute
appearance, Goodell read from his book, then took questions
from the audience of about 75, mostly middle-aged, mostly
Unlike stops in Seattle or Washington, D.C., where
readers are ``fascinated'' by Silicon Valley, Goodell said
he felt some trepidation appearing a stone's throw from his
hometown. ``I was a little uneasy about that; it doesn't
exactly come out as a love note to Sunnyvale,'' said the
Goodell, who visits the valley regularly, still has
praise for its energy, creativity and optimism, but
questions the way money has changed its values. And it
didn't happen overnight. ``I remember being 15 years old
standing near El Camino, hearing a weird rumble, and seeing
a Ferrari convertible and thinking, `What is a Ferrari
convertible doing in Sunnyvale?' ''
CYBERSELFISH IN S.F.: During a recent San
Francisco appearance at Ruby Skye hosted by Gracenet, a Bay
Area woman's networking group, author and commentator
Paulina Borsook read from her latest work, ``Cyberselfish:
A Critical Romp Through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of
High Tech,'' (PublicAffairs; 267 pages; $24). It's an
intimidating title, but shouldn't be. The contrarian author,
who has written for Wired, Mother Jones and Salon.com, among
others, basically throws cold water on all that is
overheated in our valley of hype, pointing out the
hypocrisies of the digerati. ``It's stuff about this culture
(people) don't like, and it articulates it for them,'' said
The Swing Shift is a weekly column about the off-hours of
Silicon Valley. Send your ideas, tips and invitations to TheSwingShift@sjmercury.com.
Contact Michelle Quinn at (408) 920-5749 and Tracy Seipel at