In a recent interview, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates described his one-time arch nemesis Steve Jobs as a wizard of sorts, saying he was adept at "casting spells" during his time at Apple. Gates was not speaking literally, of course, but to the style of leadership that Jobs used, compared to his own.
Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in 2011. Before his unfortunate demise, however, he built one of the most successful technology companies ever, and helped create a consumer culture that is somewhat unique to Apple and its various products. According to Gates, Apple was "on a path to die" before Jobs started casting spells.
"I was like a minor wizard because he would be casting spells, and I would see people mesmerized, but because I'm a minor wizard, the spells don't work on me," Gates said during an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria.
He also said that Jobs was, at times, an "a**hole." That has been well documented, but Gates was not throwing shade as his former rival. Just the opposite, he had some high praise for Jobs and his business acumen.
"I have yet to meet any person who in terms of picking talent, hyper-motivating that talent, and having a sense of design of 'Oh this is good, this is not good.' So he brought some incredibly positive things, along with that toughness," Gates said.
While Gates says he was immune the Jobs' spell-casting, he also noted that he did not have the ability to cast the same ones.
It's a somewhat quirky analogy, but what Gates is saying about Jobs is that he had an uncanny ability to mesmerize people, whether it was warranted or not. For example, Gates says Apple's NeXT introduction in 1988 "completely failed, it was such nonsense, and yet he mesmerized those people" in the audience.
The bigger point Gates was making is that Apple's success story is an outlier of sorts. Jobs was such a unique talent, that there are not going to be many cases like Apple, where there is a company that might be destined to fail but ultimately grows into a behemoth. At the time of this writing, Apple's market cap is more than $918 billion.
It is an interesting take, and it shows what admiration Gates has always had for Jobs, even when they were competing with each other.
Thumbnail/Top Image Source: Flickr (Joi Ito)