The news that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is stepping down from his post because he’s, as he put it, “no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO,” is sad news. Sad not just for Apple Computer, but for the San Francisco Bay Area.
Because Steve Jobs, you see, has carved for himself a unique place in SF Bay Area culture.
UPDATE: Who Is Tim Cook?
Steve Jobs is arguably the first business exec, the first entrepreneur, who’s had a multidisciplinary impact on our lives. He took the style of the San Francisco Bay Area: our habit for the cutting-edge, yet personal, human scale approach to life, and combined it with a desire to make the most technologically-innovative products of our time.
In so doing, Steve Jobs changed the way not just the Bay Area lives, but the World itself.
While IBM created the cold, efficient personal computer, something you wouldn’t even think of designing an interior around, Jobs developed the Macintoch, something interior designers did create spaces around.
Jobs is the first to take our generations love for modern sci-fi, where tech and design meshed to produce the Starship Enterprise, and the Communicator and Tricorder, and actually make products that fused tech and design, much as we had come to expect…on television.
Because of this, it’s no surprise that Apple Computer itself is as much a way of life as Star Trek. It comes as no surprise that Apple Marketing would use the newest Star Trek Enterprise in its marketing, as was the case in 2010. It comes as no surprise that we can walk into an Apple Store and be dipped into the “Apple Style” and all around tech.
We take all of that for granted.
We take that for granted, as much as we ignore the fact that Pixar may be known for Toy Story, but for this blogger, it was the maker of a the very cool product that would eventually be used to make Toy Story: MacRender Man, or what Pixar now calls “RenderMan.” That was Steve making a company, that made a product, which created products that impacted our culture.
And all of that right here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I really don’t think Steve’s development could have happened anywhere else in the entire World, and to some extent, his now famous 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech says as much.
It has been insanely fun and inspiring to watch him evolve from my Oakland perch. The idea of the website and approach for my company, Sports Business Simulations, came because we paid as much attention to design and color as tech. That was because of Steve Jobs influence on me.
I have always been a Steve Jobs fan. I’ve used nothing but Macs for my entire computing life. I have an iPhone, and when I stopped using my first one after a dispute with AT&T, I bought a Samsung Galaxy Variant because it looked like an iPhone. I wanted to buy a NeXT Computer, but the $10,000 price tag was too rich for my young blood. Pixar was, for a long time, a software maker, then Steve bought it from another local entrepreneurial icon George Lucas (via Lucasfilm) and turned it into the incredible idea factory it is today.
I visited Pixar in Richmond in 1997. Watched as then-Economic Development Director, and friend from my Cal City Planning days, Kofi Bonner lured Pixar from Richmond to Emeryville, and then had the pleasure of a visit most recently to reward a good samaritan, who works for Pixar. Interestingly, Had Steve not purchased Pixar, none of those events in my life would have happened.
Steve Jobs is a major cultural glue for this Bay Area. When you ask “Who defines what the San Francisco Bay Area is about?” point to Steve Jobs. Point to him and smile.