How leaving Apple the first time transformed Jobs
Many agree that after Jobs’ was kicked out of Apple by his Board of Directors in 1985 he mellowed somewhat and the lessons learned at Next also changed him for the better.
According to Ellison, being kicked out of the company he founded was a big surprise to Jobs’. Ellison noted: “He made himself vulnerable. He didn't negotiate with his board well enough. He expected the board to know that he was irreplaceable.”
His fiery personality is one reason why Jobs was fired (although officially he decided to leave the company). Ellison thinks things would be different today, and that’s probably because with hindsight firing Jobs “almost cost Apple its existence”, in Ellison’s words. “The Apple board didn't like the way he behaved. But look at the young geniuses in Silicon Valley now. If they don't like their boards, they fire them. To some degree I think that's a result of Steve,” he added.
“It's almost a bible story in the Valley”, said Walt Mossberg.
Ellison clarified: “Entrepreneurs don't trust their boards anymore. Larry and Sergei can fire their boards. Zuckerberg can. Firing Steve was such an incredible mistake.”
From dressing in a turtleneck and jeans to dressing the Apple Stores
The conversation also touched on Jobs famous black mock turtleneck and jeans: “Steve wore the same thing every day because he didn't want to think about what he was wearing. Steve didn't care about the way he dressed,” according to Ellison.
Apple Stores were given as an example of how Jobs wouldn’t listen to the naysayers. When the Apple Stores were first announced industry commentators looked at the problems Gateway was experiencing with it’s stores, and the success IBM was experiencing selling products online and concluded that Jobs was mad to pursue ‘brick and morter’ stores.
Even Ellison told Steve “that bricks and mortar was dead”, and in response Steve said: "But we're using glass and steel."
Ellison joked: “He dragged me to the mockups. I wanted to throw myself out of the car.”
Ellison added: “I didn't say it was nuts. I did say it was very risky. But utterly brilliant. I never expected there would be as many stores as there are now.”
Catmull agreed that the Apple Stores were “more successful than I thought it would be.”
The discussion really demonstrated that Ellison knew Jobs well. And he had been Jobs friend since the early days of Apple. Even in the early days, Ellison saw that: “He was an extraordinary guy and you could see it at the beginning.”