Fifty-six is a short time on the planet these days, but Steve Jobs changed the world in his time.
The thing I really admired about him was that he succeeded and then he failed. And then he came back. This is what drives capitalism — the entrepreneur. It wasn’t a committee or a board or bureau that gave him direction. He acted on his own. He trusted his inner voice and followed it with passion. That takes courage.
He would be the first to admit that he didn’t do it alone, but that is not the point of entrepreneurship. Someone has to decide and give direction and beat up on people and take the heat. That is the point. You can’t hire that. And that is why entrepreneurs start their own companies.
So what did he do? He started a successful personal computer company and then he failed. He was kicked out by his own board. And then they brought in the Pepsi guy (John Sculley), and he almost ran the company into the ground. They brought Jobs back and he saved the company. iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad. Plus Pixar.
So, what did he do? He made the PC cool and everyone wanted one (iMac; not me, I will admit). He changed the animation industry (Pixar). He completely changed the entire music industry (iPod, iTunes). He changed personal computing with a pocket computer that really works well (iPhone). Now he’s on the way to making the laptop a relic (iPad). And I think the new Siri software for the iPhone means something and you shouldn’t underestimate what it means. Think Star Trek: “Computer. What is the GDP of Romania?”
He was the one, the guy, who changed everything. He was probably the best of his generation. Bill Gates did one good thing. A really great thing that Jobs missed entirely (a ubiquitous operating system that forced software makers to a single platform that spread the PC worldwide). But that was it for Gates, and he’s still living off of that one thing.
Jobs was a great businessman and visionary. And we wouldn’t be walking around connected to the world with a computer in our pocket without him. These guys don’t come often.
P.S. There are news reports that there are spontaneous gatherings at Apple stores throughout the world.
— Jeff Harding is a principal of Montecito Realty Investors LLC. A student of economics, he has a strong affinity for free-market economics. This commentary originally appeared on his blog, The Daily Capitalist.