I worked at Apple from 2000-2002. I had occasional interactions with Steve as part of my job (director of product marketing for applications). As I reflect (with much sadness) on Steve’s resignation from the company he built, there’s one event that sticks out as an example of how Steve’s personality and that of Apple’s are one and the same.
It was early on November 30th, 2001, and I was sitting at my desk in 1 Infinite Loop reading the news. I was stunned when I saw a headline saying that George Harrison had died. As with many others of my generation, his music had been an important part of my life for many years. It really hit me hard. I sat there in a dark contemplative mood for quite awhile, feeling alone in my grief. But then I realized I wasn’t alone; many of my colleagues at Apple were Harrison fans, and I was sure they’d also feel the need express some of their feelings at this moment. This gave me an idea…one that took considerable courage on my part: I would suggest to Steve that Apple put some sort of tribute on the home page.
Up to this point, all my dealings with Steve had been strictly business, and I was afraid he’d think I was some kind of sentimental looney. But my feelings pushed me forward…I sent Steve this note:
Then I waited nervously.
Several hours passed with no response, so I concluded that he wasn’t interested and put it out of my mind. But that wasn’t the end of it. Later that evening, I’m back at my desk and get a call from Tom McDonald (the Final Cut Pro product manager) who tells me he had just come from a meeting with the web design group and they were all working overtime tonight because of me. ‘What? What do you mean?’ I asked. As far as I could recall, I didn’t have any projects they were working on.
Turns out that Steve did not think it was a stupid idea, as I feared, but instead had put the web team to work on coming up with something suitable.
So, late that night, after a couple rounds back and forth with Steve to choose the best photos, the Apple home page became this:
It was one of my proudest moments at Apple; to be part of a company that lets its heart guide its actions. I know now, more than ever, that the company is built that way because of Steve.
Chief Marketing Officer – Code 42