Thank you, Steve Jobs

Bambi Francisco Roizen · August 29, 2011 · Short URL:

How Steve Jobs touched our digital and entrepreneurial lives

Over the weekend, I had bookshelves placed in one of the rooms in my house. As I put the books on the shelves, I realized my collection had not grown in a year. A year ago, I began collecting digital books on the Apple iPad.

There have been countless articles about Steve Jobs, during the last week since his resignation as chief executive officer at Apple. Doubtless, he's an extraordinary person whose work has compelled many to share their thoughts. Few CEOs would drive me to write a thank you for their contribution to our world, and in particular mine. But you see, Steve Jobs has affected "my" world down to the core of the technology I touch daily (the iPad, iPhone, MacBook, etc.) and the work I do (working with entrepreneurs).

Even though Steve Jobs will remain at Apple as chairman, I wanted to write a tribute to him for his time at the helm.

Apple conversion

I'm pretty much a faithful gadget person. If I like something, I stick with it and embrace it. Back in the late 90's, I had one of the first Palm Pilots. I stayed a loyal Palm user until the Treo 650 in 2006. At that time, I converted over to the Blackberry Pearl, and my Palm days were over. But my Blackberry days were just temporary ones. By the end of 2006, I had started to envision a lifestyle fully unified with technology seamlessly speaking to one another. Blackberry wasn't the answer. While I had yet to fully become an Apple junkie, I knew I wanted to convert my living room and lifestyle to Apple products. So, I predicted that Apple shares would soon benefit as Apple would soon start penetrating my living room, as well as others. At the time, Apple traded at $82 a share.

Here was part of my prediction:

"Apple Computer continues to shine as it grabs a larger share of new markets for entertainment gadgets and media centers that hold video, pictures and music. Apple may not dominate our offices -- with only 3% of the PC market share -- but it will increasingly dominate every other room -- like our living rooms, game rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Apple is already the No. 7 music retailer, according to NPD. It's among the top 10 most visited online retailers, according to comScore. And, it was the fastest-growing Web property, according to Nielsen/NetRatings."

In 2007, I went from a Dell computer to my first MacBook. I moved onto an iPod Nano, started downloading music via iTunes, and when the first iPhone came out in June of that year, I was one of the early adopters. Fast forward, and in my household, we have two Apple computers, two iPads, two iPod Touches, and several iPhones. Our collection of music, photos, books, TV shows, and movies live on Apple products.

I am thankful that Steve Jobs has outfitted my digital world, and my sons. I can't imagine giving my boys a Kindle and having that preoccupy them for hours.

Steve Jobs - the entrepreneur

The other reason I want to say thanks is because of his tireless efforts that led to major achievements and failures. And, the lessons we can take away from his life. It's the failures and his combeback that the average entrepreneur and innovator should remember.

While many of the great entrepreneurs - Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg - of our time have left college to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, most Americans would believe dropping out of college is a failure. Steve Jobs' first failure was to drop out of college.

And, even though Apple had grown to a $2 billion company with 4000 employees, some would say that the early iterations of Apple I and Apple II were failures, having only sold "mere hundreds." In 1983, the Lisa computer, which cost $10,000, was considered a complete failure. As noted in this article, "Throughout 1983, Lisa turned out to be a bomb in the marketplace, like Apple III before it. Apple was still relying only on its six-year-old Apple II computer — whose market share kept shrinking because of the IBM PC. Macintosh had to succeed, or else the company would be out of business very quickly."

The Macintosh, despite the famed 1984 Orwellian ad, failed to meet Jobs' original goal of selling half a million in the first year. In the first 100 days, 70,000 were sold. But by March 11, 1985, the company had sold only 10% of Jobs' original prediction.

To top off these failures, by May 1985, 30-year-old Steve Jobs was booted out of the company he started.

"So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating. I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me... I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over. I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life." Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford, 1985  

In 1987, Steve Jobs went on to find NeXT Computer, which despte having no product, had a $125 million valuation, after Ross Perot invested $20 million. Ultimately, it too failed. "Despite those signs of optimism, the NeXT Cube was a blatant failure on the marketplace. It simply did not sell: universities and students found it way too expensive," according to the site

Yet despite all of these major and grand failures, Steve went on to become an even greater entreperneur. His greatest achievements came after his greatest failures. His journey reminds me of what Vinod Khosla - another famed entrepreneur, and now investor - once said, "Vision is bumbling around." Steve Jobs' story  is a lesson for all of us entrepreneurs who have a dream and desire to improve lives. Failures are the seeds to our most glorious achievements.

It doesn't matter if you fail. It's what you do with the lessons you've learned from them. 

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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