The 13 Most Unflattering Revelations in the New Steve Jobs Documentary

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine explores the Apple mastermind's more controversial qualities

Most Popular

After making an enemy of the Church of Scientology earlier this year with Going Clear, Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney is taking on the tech world's most polarizing yet beloved icon with Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine. As with much of Gibney's previous work, the film is less celebration than portrait of a living contradiction—a man who, as Gibney puts it in the film's narration, was an "artist who sought perfection but could never find peace," who had "the focus of a monk, but never the empathy," a person who "offered us freedom, but only within a closed garden to which he held the key."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Here are 13 unflattering things we learned about Steve Jobs from The Man in the Machine.

***

1 | He used Steve Wozniak's work to get a job at Atari

In archival footage, Steve Wozniak explains how he had seen the video game Pong in a bowling alley and immediately figured out a way to build his own version using a TV. "I was such a nerd," Wozniak recalls. While Woz created the game just for fun, Steve Jobs saw it as an opportunity. "Steve came back from Reed College and saw that I had built my own Pong game. So that gave him the idea to go down to Atari. He went down and he showed them the board and he wound up with a job." Atari founder Nolan Bushnell was impressed. "Steve said, in typical Steve Jobs fashion, 'I'm not going to leave until you hire me,'" Bushnell remembers. "And I appreciated his intensity."

Most Popular

2 | He screwed Woz out of thousands of dollars

It didn't take long for Bushnell to realize that Woz, who was working at HP at the time, was helping Jobs with his work. So he made the decision to put Jobs on the night shift, figuring that was one way to get "two Steves for the price of one." Bushnell put Jobs on creating a new game for the company, Breakout, and gave him four days to do it. Woz recalls how the two of them spent four straight days working on this seemingly impossible deadline, which they somehow managed to make. Impressed with the work, Jobs told Woz that they got paid $700 for their efforts and wrote him a check for $350. In reality, Jobs had received a $7,000 bonus. "That hurt, because we were friends," Woz says. "If he had said, 'I need the money,' I would have said, 'Take it all.' I was just happy to be on the project."

3 | Jobs cleaned house prior to the Apple IPO

In the summer of 1980, it became clear that Apple's IPO was going to launch in the immediate future. Which meant that Jobs' net worth would likely skyrocket from $10 million to around $200 million. Jobs used this time to reinvent himself and his company, which meant getting rid of a few key contributors. While Woz left with a generous stock package and lifetime stipend, Daniel Kottke—Jobs' longtime friend and one of Apple's first employees—wasn't so lucky. When an apple executive offered to give Kottke the same amount of stock that Jobs would give him, Jobs responded: "Fine. I'll give him zero."

4 | He denied paternity of his daughter by claiming he was sterile

Jobs' reinvention went beyond his professional life. In an attempt to streamline his personal life, Jobs denied paternity of Lisa, his daughter with Chrisann Brennan, who was born on May 17, 1978. In a series of court documents filed in August of 1979, Jobs alleged that Brennan had a number of sexual partners during the time she became pregnant. As further proof that he was not the father of Lisa, Jobs claimed that "he was sterile and infertile, and, as a result thereof, did not have the physical capacity to procreate a child." (Jobs would go on to have three more children with Laurene Powell, his wife of 20 years.)

5 | He was not afraid to tell people what he didn't like

In 1986, Esquire writer Joseph Nocera was invited to spend a week shadowing Jobs, from which emerged one of the defining early profiles of the then-31-year-old entrepreneur as he was ramping up for his post-Apple venture, NeXT. It also gave Nocera a firsthand account of how well Jobs played with his colleagues. And it wasn't always pleasant. "If it was in a meeting and somebody said, 'Here's a great idea,' and put the idea out there and he didn't like it, he'd just chop the person into mincemeat," Nocera says.

6 | If he wasn't seducing you, he was vilifying or ignoring you

"Steve ruled by a kind of a chaos," explains Bob Belleville, who served as Apple's director of engineering from 1982 to 1985. "And if you're comfortable with chaos, you can use it as a tool. And he used a vast number of really irritating tools to get people involved in his schemes. He's seducing you, he's vilifying you, and he's ignoring you. You're in one of those three states."

7 | He thought he was above the law

The easiest way to identify Steve Jobs—at least on the road—was by his lack of identification. After discovering a loophole that allowed for a six-month grace period before having to place a license plate on a leased car, Jobs (who could afford to purchase the silver Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG he favored) would lease the same car every six months in order to avoid having to slap a plate on it. "He told people [it was] because he didn't want people to identify him," explains Yukari Iwatani Kane, author of Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs. "Well there's nothing more identifiable than a silver Mercedes with no license plate on it. It screams 'Steve Jobs.' And it does give you a glimpse of how he thought he was above the law." In addition to a lack of a license plate, Jobs' habit of parking in handicapped spots around the Apple campus was another easy way to identify him. "It even became something of a pastime in the Valley to take a picture next to Steve's car," Gibney says.

8 | He was not actively involved in charities

Unlike his competitor Bill Gates, who very publicly donates the bulk of his fortune in various charitable ways, Steve Jobs allegedly described giving away money as "a waste of time." After Jobs reassumed control of Apple in 1997, he did away with the company's philanthropic programs.

9 | He could channel Don Corleone when needed

After successfully launching the iPhone, a handful of employees left Apple for Palm in 2007, iPhone senior manager Andy Grignon among them. Grignon shares how about 20 minutes after submitting his resignation, he got a call from Jobs' assistant to set up a meeting, which Grignon describes as "a half-hour mindfuck. It [became] very Godfather-esque: 'You're part of my family and Apple's my family and you don't want to leave my family.' And at the end, he says, 'If you choose to leave my family, should you decide to take so much as one member of my family away from me, I will personally take you down."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

10 | He colluded with other CEOs not to hire each other's employees

In 2011, more than 64,000 Silicon Valley programmers filed a class-action suit alleging that the heads of some of the area's biggest companies—Google, Intel, Adobe, Pixar (which Jobs co-founded), and Apple among them—had agreed (illegally) that they would not recruit each other's employees. E-mails from, to, and about Jobs were some of the suit's strongest pieces of evidence. A 2005 e-mail from Google's co-founder Sergey Brin stated:

So I got another irate call from jobs today.
Basically, he said: "if you hire a single one of these people that means war."

Most Popular

In response, Google sent out a "do not cold call" list, which included Apple.

Two years later, when Google tried recruiting another one of Apple's employees, Jobs e-mailed Google CEO Eric Schmidt to remind him that this was a no-no. Schmidt assured Jobs that "the sourcer who contacted this Apple employee should not have and will be terminated within the hour."

When Google confirmed that the "sourcer" had been terminated, Jobs replied:

:)

Jobs had another brush with the law in 2008 over backdated options.

11 | Jobs held some Apple money in Ireland to avoid taxes

Perhaps anticipating the company's future success, in the early 1980s, Jobs and his colleagues set up holding companies for Apple in Ireland. Also known as a "double Irish," it's really just a way to avoid paying taxes. The documentary states that today, more than $137 billion of Apple's profits are held overseas, a large portion of which are held by two small Ireland-based companies—one of which has no employees. The company's Ireland-based earnings are taxed at less than one percent.

12 | He dictated Apple's media coverage

In his first meeting with Jobs, former Fortune editor Andy Serwer told Jobs that he'd like to have a good relationship with the company and write about its happenings. To which Jobs responded, according to Serwer, that, "We'll basically come up with the ideas with you or come up with the ideas and call you. We'll figure out who the writer is going to be on your staff to do the story." "And I said, 'Well, Steve, that's not really how we do things,'" Serwer remembers. "And he said, 'That's how you do things with Apple.'" (At which point Serwer put reporter Peter Elkind on a story about the company's stock options, which were still a bit of a mystery...)

13 | Steve Jobs hid his cancer diagnosis for nine months

Gibney's documentary includes footage of a 2005 commencement speech Jobs gave at Stanford, in which he implies that he underwent surgery for his pancreatic cancer shortly after learning of his diagnosis. In truth, Jobs spent nine months seeking alternative treatments before getting the life-saving surgery–during which time Jobs and Apple's board of directors kept his diagnosis from both the public and, more importantly, Apple shareholders, even though former Fortune editor Andy Serwer claims, "He was obligated to tell shareholders about his diagnosis." (In a 2008 Fortune article about the nine-month delay, editor at large Peter Elkind wrote that "News of [Jobs'] illness, especially with an uncertain outcome, would surely send the company's stock reeling. The board decided to say nothing, after seeking advice on its obligations from two outside lawyers, who agreed it could remain silent."​​)

This article was originally published on Esquire.com

***
MORE CULTURE:

What To Expect From This Week's Apple Conference
How Worried Should We Be About The Trainspotting Sequel?
Book Of The Week: Bream Gives Me Hiccups By Jesse Eisenberg
***
 

What do you think?

TV
Share
Game of Thrones Actors are Also Peeved About Their Characters Randomly Getting Killed
The man behind Doran Martell opens up about his one big moment last season
Culture
Share
This Is Where "Roger That" Really Comes From
​Copy that.​
Culture
Share
Man Who Lived As A Goat For Three Days Wins A (Spoof) Nobel Prize
​​Wait, what?​
iPhone 7
Culture
Share
This Is How Much It Actually Costs Apple To Make An iPhone 7
There's a reason they're worth $624 billion​​
Lego drone
Culture
Share
You Can Now Build Drones With LEGO, If That's The Kind Of Thing You're Into
Finally, technology we can get on board with​​
TV
Share
Why The New 'Westworld' Matters
The new version comes out on HBO soon, and the 1973 original is still shaping sci-fi
Mourinho and Wenger
Culture
Share
Jose Mourinho 'Wanted To Break' Arsene Wenger's Face Over Mata Transfer
According to a new book​
Culture
Share
Edward Snowden Just Named An App That You Should Avoid At All Costs
​Google 'Allo' is "surveillance", apparently​
Culture
Share
Count Dracula's Castle Is Up For Sale
​Deep in the Romanian countryside, this towering 12th century fortress inspired Bram Stoker's 1897 novel​
Mourinho and Rooney
Culture
Share
Jose Mourinho Used To Have A Nickname For Wayne Rooney: 'Fat Boy'
​According to a new book​