Sculley’s wife was surprised to see him back in the middle

Sculley’s wife was surprised to see him back in the middle of the day.

“I’ve failed,” he said to her forlornly. She was a volatile woman who had

never liked Jobs or appreciated her husband’s infatuation with him. So

 

when she heard what had happened, she jumped into her car and sped

over to Jobs’s office. Informed that he had gone to the Good Earth

restaurant, she marched over there and confronted him in the parking

 

lot as he was coming out with loyalists on his Macintosh team.

“Steve, can I talk to you?” she said. His jaw dropped. “Do you have any

idea what a privilege it has been even to know someone as fine as John

 

Sculley?” she demanded. He averted his gaze. “Can’t you look me in the

eyes when I’m talking to you?” she asked. But when Jobs did so—giving

her his practiced, unblinking stare—she recoiled. “Never mind, don’t look

 

at me,” she said. “When I look into most people’s eyes, I see a soul.

When I look into your eyes, I see a bottomless pit, an empty hole,

a dead zone.” Then she walked away.

 

Saturday, May 25: Mike Murray drove to Jobs’s house in Woodside to

offer some advice: He should consider accepting the role of being a new

product visionary, starting AppleLabs, and getting away from headquarters.

 

Jobs seemed willing to consider it. But first he would have to restore peace

with Sculley. So he picked up the telephone and surprised Sculley with an

olive branch. Could they meet the following afternoon, Jobs asked, and

 

take a walk together in the hills above Stanford University. They had

walked there in the past, in happier times, and maybe on such a

walk they could work things out.

 

Jobs did not know that Sculley had told Eisenstat he wanted to quit,

but by then it didn’t matter. Overnight, he had changed his mind and

decided to stay. Despite the blowup the day before,

 

he was still eager

for Jobs to like him.

So he agreed to meet

the next afternoon.

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Suddenly the frozen onlookers began to squirm. Del Yocam had

Suddenly the frozen onlookers began to squirm. Del Yocam had to go first.

He said he loved Jobs, wanted him to continue to play some role in the company,

but he worked up the nerve to conclude, with Jobs staring at him, that he

 

“respected” Sculley and would support him to run the company. Eisenstat faced

Jobs directly and said much the same thing: He liked Jobs but was supporting

Sculley. Regis McKenna, who sat in on senior staff meetings as an outside consultant,

was more direct. He looked at Jobs and told him he was not yet ready to run the

 

company, something he had told him before. Others sided with Sculley as well. For Bill

Campbell, it was particularly tough. He was fond of Jobs and didn’t particularly like

Sculley. His voice quavered a bit as he told Jobs he had decided to support Sculley,

 

and he urged the two of them to work it out and find some role for Jobs to play

in the company. “You can’t let Steve leave this company,” he told Sculley.

Jobs looked shattered. “I guess I know where things stand,”

 

he said, and bolted out of the room. No one followed.

He went back to his office, gathered his longtime loyalists on the Macintosh

staff, and started to cry. He would have to leave Apple, he said. As he started

 

to walk out the door, Debi Coleman restrained him. She and the others urged

him to settle down and not do anything hasty. He should take the weekend to

regroup. Perhaps there was a way to prevent the company from being torn apart.

 

Sculley was devastated by his victory. Like a wounded warrior, he retreated to

Eisenstat’s office and asked the corporate counsel to go for a ride. When they

got into Eisenstat’s Porsche, Sculley lamented, “I don’t know whether I can go

 

through with this.” When Eisenstat asked what he meant, Sculley

responded, “I think I’m going to resign.”

“You can’t,” Eisenstat protested. “Apple will fall apart.”

 

“I’m going to resign,” Sculley declared. “I don’t

think I’m right for the company.”

“I think you’re copping out,” Eisenstat replied.

 

“You’ve got to

stand up to him.”

Then he drove

Sculley home.

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That evening Apple’s general counsel Al Eisenstat had a small

That evening Apple’s general counsel Al Eisenstat had a small barbecue at

his home for Sculley, Gassée, and their wives. When Gassée told Eisenstat

what Jobs was plotting, he recommended that Gassée inform Sculley.

 

“Steve was trying to raise a cabal and have a coup to get rid of John,”

Gassée recalled. “In the den of Al Eisenstat’s house, I put my index finger

lightly on John’s breastbone and said, ‘If you leave tomorrow for

China, you could be ousted. Steve’s plotting to get rid of you.’”

Friday, May 24: Sculley canceled his trip and decided to confront Jobs at the

executive staff meeting on Friday morning. Jobs arrived late, and he saw

that his usual seat next to Sculley, who sat at the head of the table, was

taken. He sat instead at the far end. He was dressed in a well-tailored suit

and looked energized. Sculley looked pale. He announced that he was

dispensing with the agenda to confront the issue on everyone’s mind.

“It’s come to my attention that you’d like to throw me out of the company,”

he said, looking directly at Jobs. “I’d like to ask you if that’s true.”

Jobs was not expecting this. But he was never shy about indulging in

brutal honesty. His eyes narrowed, and he fixed Sculley with his unblinking

stare. “I think you’re bad for Apple, and I think you’re the wrong person

to run the company,” he replied, coldly and slowly. “You really should leave

this company. You don’t know how to operate and never have.” He accused

Sculley of not understanding the product development process, and then

he added a self-centered swipe: “I wanted you here to help me grow,

and you’ve been ineffective in helping me.”

As the rest of the room sat frozen, Sculley finally lost his temper. A

childhood stutter that had not afflicted him for twenty years started to

return. “I don’t trust you, and I won’t tolerate a lack of trust,” he stammered.

When Jobs claimed that he would be better than Sculley at running the

company, Sculley took a gamble. He decided to poll the room on that question

. “He pulled off this clever maneuver,” Jobs recalled, still smarting thirty-five

years later. “It was at the executive committee meeting, and he said,

‘It’s me or Steve, who do you vote for?’

 

He set the whole

thing up so that you’d

kind of have to be an

idiot to vote for me.”

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That night Jobs took his Macintosh team out to dinner at

That night Jobs took his Macintosh team out to dinner at Nina’s Café in

Woodside. Jean-Louis Gassée was in town because Sculley wanted him

to prepare to take over the Macintosh division, and Jobs invited him to

 

join them. Belleville proposed a toast “to those of us who really understand

what the world according to Steve Jobs is all about.” That phrase—“the world

according to Steve”—had been used dismissively by others at Apple who

belittled the reality warp he created. After the others left, Belleville sat with

Jobs in his Mercedes and urged him to

organize a battle to the death with Sculley.

Months earlier, Apple had gotten the right to export computers to China,

and Jobs had been invited to sign a deal in the Great Hall of the People over

the 1985 Memorial Day weekend. He had told Sculley, who decided he wanted

to go himself, which was just fine with Jobs. Jobs decided to use Sculley’s absence

to execute his coup. Throughout the week leading up to Memorial Day,

he took a lot of people on walks to share his plans. “I’m going to launch a

coup while John is in China,” he told Mike Murray.

Seven Days in May

Thursday, May 23: At his regular Thursday meeting with his top lieutenants

in the Macintosh division, Jobs told his inner circle about his plan to oust Sculley.

He also confided in the corporate human resources director, Jay Elliot, who

told him bluntly that the proposed rebellion wouldn’t work. Elliot had talked

to some board members and urged them to stand up for Jobs, but he

discovered that most of the board was with Sculley, as were most members of

Apple’s senior staff. Yet Jobs barreled ahead. He even revealed his plans to

Gassée on a walk around the parking lot, despite the fact that Gassée had come from

 

Paris to take his job.

“I made the mistake of telling

Gassée,” Jobs wryly

conceded years later.

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Plotting a Coup “You were really great the first year, and everything

Plotting a Coup

“You were really great the first year, and everything went wonderful.

But something happened.” Sculley, who generally was even-tempered,

lashed back, pointing out that Jobs had been unable to get Macintosh

 

software developed, come up with new models, or win customers. The

meeting degenerated into a shouting match about who was the worse

manager. After Jobs stalked out, Sculley turned away from the glass wall

of his office, where others had been looking in on the meeting, and wept.

Matters began to come to a head on Tuesday, May 14, when the Macintosh

team made its quarterly review presentation to Sculley and other Apple

corporate leaders. Jobs still had not relinquished control of the division, and

he was defiant when he arrived in the corporate boardroom with his team.

He and Sculley began by clashing over what the division’s mission was. Jobs

said it was to sell more Macintosh machines. Sculley said it was to serve the

interests of the Apple company as a whole. As usual there was little cooperation

among the divisions; for one thing, the Macintosh team was planning new

disk drives that were different from those being developed by the Apple

II division. The debate, according to the minutes, took a full hour.

Jobs then described the projects under way: a more powerful Mac, which

would take the place of the discontinued Lisa; and software called FileServer,

which would allow Macintosh users to share files on a network. Sculley learned

for the first time that these projects were going to be late. He gave a cold critique

of Murray’s marketing record, Belleville’s missed engineering deadlines, and

Jobs’s overall management. Despite all this, Jobs ended the meeting with

a plea to Sculley, in front of all the others there,

 

to be given one

more chance to prove he

could run a division.

Sculley refused.

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The board became increasingly alarmed at the turmoil, and in

The board became increasingly alarmed at the turmoil, and in early 1985

Arthur Rock and some other disgruntled directors delivered a stern lecture to

both. They told Sculley that he was supposed to be running the company, and

 

he should start doing so with more authority and less eagerness to be pals with

Jobs. They told Jobs that he was supposed to be fixing the mess at the Macintosh

division and not telling other divisions how to do their job. Afterward Jobs retreated

to his office and typed on his Macintosh, “I will not criticize the rest

of the organization, I will not criticize the rest of the organization . . .”

As the Macintosh continued to disappoint—sales in March 1985 were only 10%

of the budget forecast—Jobs holed up in his office fuming or wandered the halls

berating everyone else for the problems. His mood swings became worse, and so

did his abuse of those around him. Middle-level managers began to rise up against

him. The marketing chief Mike Murray sought a private meeting with Sculley at an

industry conference. As they were going up to Sculley’s hotel room, Jobs spotted

them and asked to come along. Murray asked him not to. He told Sculley that Jobs

was wreaking havoc and had to be removed from managing the Macintosh division.

Sculley replied that he was not yet resigned to having a showdown with Jobs. Murray

later sent a memo directly to Jobs criticizing the way he treated colleagues and

denouncing “management by character assassination.”

For a few weeks it seemed as if there might be a solution to the turmoil. Jobs became

fascinated by a flat-screen technology developed by a firm near Palo Alto called

Woodside Design, run by an eccentric engineer named Steve Kitchen. He also was

impressed by another startup that made a touchscreen display that could be controlled

by your finger, so you didn’t need a mouse. Together these might help fulfill Jobs’s vision

of creating a “Mac in a book.” On a walk with Kitchen, Jobs spotted a building in nearby

Menlo Park and declared that they should open a skunkworks facility to work on these

ideas. It could be called AppleLabs and Jobs could run it,

 

going back to the

joy of having a small

team and developing

a great new product.

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There were many reasons for the rift between Jobs and Sculley in

There were many reasons for the rift between Jobs and Sculley in the sprin

of 1985. Some were merely business disagreements, such as Sculley’s attempt

to maximize profits by keeping the Macintosh price high when Jobs wanted to

 

make it more affordable. Others were weirdly psychological and stemmed from

the torrid and unlikely infatuation they initially had with each other. Sculley had

painfully craved Jobs’s affection, Jobs had eagerly sought a father figure and mentor,

and when the ardor began to cool there was an emotional backwash. But at its core,

the growing breach had two fundamental causes, one on each side.

For Jobs, the problem was that Sculley never became a product person. He didn’t make

the effort, or show the capacity, to understand the fine points of what they were making.

On the contrary, he found Jobs’s passion for tiny technical tweaks and design details to

be obsessive and counterproductive. He had spent his career selling sodas and snacks

whose recipes were largely irrelevant to him. He wasn’t naturally passionate about products,

which was among the most damning sins that Jobs could imagine. “I tried to educate him

about the details of engineering,” Jobs recalled, “but he had no idea how products are created,

and after a while it just turned into arguments. But I learned that my perspective was right.

Products are everything.” He came to see Sculley as clueless, and his contempt was exacerbated

by Sculley’s hunger for his affection and delusions that they were very similar.

For Sculley, the problem was that Jobs, when he was no longer in courtship or manipulative

mode, was frequently obnoxious, rude, selfish, and nasty to other people. He found Jobs’s

boorish behavior as despicable as Jobs found Sculley’s lack of passion for product details. Sculley

was kind, caring, and polite to a fault. At one point they were planning to meet with Xerox’s vice

chair Bill Glavin, and Sculley begged Jobs to behave. But as soon as they sat down, Jobs told Glavin,

“You guys don’t have any clue what you’re doing,” and the meeting broke up. “I’m sorry, but I

couldn’t help myself,” Jobs told Sculley. It was one of many such cases. As Atari’s Al Alcorn later

observed, “Sculley believed in keeping people happy and worrying about relationships. Steve didn’t

give a shit about that. But he did care about the product in a way that Sculley never could, and he

was able to avoid

 

having too many bozos

working at Apple by

insulting anyone who

wasn’t an A player.”

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When the Wall Street Journal heard what happened, it got in

When the Wall Street Journal heard what happened, it got in touch with

Wozniak, who, as usual, was open and honest. He said that Jobs was punishing

him. “Steve Jobs has a hate for me, probably because of the things I said about

 

Apple,” he told the reporter. Jobs’s action was remarkably petty, but it was also

partly caused by the fact that he understood, in ways that others did not, that

the look and style of a product served to brand it. A device that had Wozniak’s

name on it and used the same design language as Apple’s products might be

mistaken for something that Apple had produced. “It’s not personal,” Jobs told

the newspaper, explaining that he wanted to make sure that Wozniak’s remote

wouldn’t look like something made by Apple. “We don’t want to see our design

language used on other products. Woz has to find his own resources. He can’

t leverage off Apple’s resources; we can’t treat him specially.”

Jobs volunteered to pay for the work that frogdesign had already done for Wozniak,

but even so the executives at the firm were taken aback. When Jobs demanded that

they send him the drawings done for Wozniak or destroy them, they refused. Jobs

had to send them a letter invoking Apple’s contractual right. Herbert Pfeifer, the design

director of the firm, risked Jobs’s wrath by publicly dismissing his claim that the dispute

with Wozniak was not personal. “It’s a power play,” Pfeifer told the Journal.

“They have personal problems between them.”

Hertzfeld was outraged when he heard what Jobs had done. He lived about twelve

blocks from Jobs, who sometimes would drop by on his walks. “I got so furious about

the Wozniak remote episode that when Steve next came over, I wouldn’t let him in

the house,” Hertzfeld recalled. “He knew he was wrong, but he tried to rationalize, and

maybe in his distorted reality he was able to.” Wozniak, always a teddy bear even

when annoyed, hired another

 

design firm and even

agreed to stay on Apple’s

retainer as a spokesman.

Showdown, Spring 1985

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“I’m going to bring this up with the board,” Sculley declared.

“I’m going to bring this up with the board,” Sculley declared. “I’m going to

recommend that you step down from your operating position of running the

Macintosh division. I want you to know that.” He urged Jobs not to resist and

 

to agree instead to work on developing new technologies and products.

Jobs jumped from his seat and turned his intense stare on Sculley. “I don’t

believe you’re going to do that,” he said.

“If you do that, you’re going to destroy the company.”

 

public humiliation in a way that in most cases proved to be pretty effective,” Tribble

recalled. But sometimes it wasn’t. One engineer, David Paulsen, put in ninety-hour

weeks for the first ten months at NeXT. He quit when “Steve walked in one Friday

afternoon and told us how unimpressed he was with what we were doing.” When Business

Week asked him why he treated employees so harshly, Jobs said it made the company better.

“Part of my responsibility is to be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an

environment where excellence is expected.” But he still had his spirit and charisma. There were

plenty of field trips, visits by akido masters, and off-site retreats. And he still exuded the pirate

flag spunkiness. When Apple fired Chiat/Day, the ad firm that had done the “1984” ad and taken

out the newspaper ad saying “Welcome IBM—seriously,” Jobs took out a full-page ad in the

Wall Street Journal proclaiming, “Congratulations Chiat/Day—Seriously . . .

Because I can guarantee you: there is life after Apple.”

Perhaps the greatest similarity to his days at Apple was that Jobs brought with him his reality

distortion field. It was on display at the company’s first retreat at Pebble Beach in late 1985.

There Jobs pronounced that the first NeXT computer would be shipped in just eighteen months.

It was already clear that this date was impossible, but he blew off a suggestion from one engineer

that they be realistic and plan on shipping in 1988. “If we do that, the world isn’t standing still,

the technology window

 

passes us by, and all the

work we’ve done we

have to throw down

the toilet,” he argued.

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At the end of that month, Sculley finally worked up the nerve

At the end of that month, Sculley finally worked up the nerve to tell Jobs that

he should give up running the Macintosh division. He walked over to Jobs’s

office one evening and brought the human resources manager, Jay Elliot, to

 

make the confrontation more formal. “There is no one who admires your brilliance

and vision more than I do,” Sculley began. He had uttered such flatteries before,

but this time it was clear that there would be a brutal “but” punctuating the thought.

 

And there was. “But this is really not going to work,” he declared. The flatteries

punctured by “buts” continued. “We have developed a great friendship with each

other,” he said, “but I have lost confidence in your ability to run the Macintosh

division.” He also berated Jobs for badmouthing him as a bozo behind his back.

 

In his earnest way, Wozniak had openly answered the reporter’s questions when he called.

Yes, he said, he felt that Apple had been giving short shrift to the Apple II division.

“Apple’s direction has been horrendously wrong for five years,” he said.

Less than two weeks later Wozniak and Jobs traveled together to the White House,

where Ronald Reagan presented them with the first National Medal of Technology.

The president quoted what President Rutherford Hayes had said when first shown a

telephone—“An amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one?”—and then

quipped, “I thought at the time that he might be mistaken.” Because of the awkward

situation surrounding Wozniak’s departure, Apple did not throw a celebratory dinner.

So Jobs and Wozniak went for a walk afterward and ate at a sandwich shop.

They chatted amiably, Wozniak recalled, and avoided any discussion of their disagreements.

Wozniak wanted to make the parting amicable. It was his style. So he agreed to stay on

as a part-time Apple employee at a $20,000 salary and represent the company at events

and trade shows. That could have been a graceful way to drift apart. But Jobs could not

leave well enough alone. One Saturday, a few weeks after they had visited Washington

together, Jobs went to the new Palo Alto studios of Hartmut Esslinger, whose company

frogdesign had moved there to handle its design work for Apple. There he happened to

see sketches that the firm had made for Wozniak’s new remote control device, and he

flew into a rage. Apple had a clause in its contract that gave it the right to bar frogdesign

from working on other computer-related projects, and Jobs invoked

 

it. “I informed them,

” he recalled, “that working

with Woz wouldn

’t be acceptable to us.”

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