Craig Federighi – a worthy replacement to Serlet, and a nerd impostor to boot

Thu, Mar 24, 2011


Will Shipley writes nicely on the departing Bertrand Serlet and his replacement, and seeming nerd impostor, Craig Federighi who began working at NeXT in 1994 and took over the EOF group (Enterprise Objects) in record time.

We’re all around this table in some generic conference room, and in comes Craig – the new guy – and he’s like seven feet tall and gameshow-host handsome and he’s smiling like a used car salesman. I will admit it; I was prepared not to like him. I mean, nerds have a certain look to them, and if you violate the unwritten nerd contract then you risk ostracization, dammit.

You naturally expect a tall, handsome dude to be, well, kind of a jerk. Like, his ideas are more important than yours. But what struck me so hard in that first meeting, so much so that it’s still in my head 17 years later, is that he was there to listen. And not just to passively listen – he wanted to make sure he understood what we were saying, yes, but also to get to theheart of it. Are you saying we need this? Is this what’s really important, or is it this other thing? Active listening. In an industry where most engineers just want to talk about how big their metaphorical dicks are, this was a huge surprise.

The NeXT EOF team had some of the smartest engineers on it I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, but they tended to be kind of lone wolves. They did their thing, they had their ideas, the wrote code. Craig brought ideas together. He didn’t care who they came from – I’ve got mail from him asking if we want to put sample source code on an EOF release, I’ve got mail where he followed up on bug reports he filed against OmniWeb and OmniPDF. Why was Craig so concerned about third-party software? Craiglikes to get things right. Sure, he’s damn charming, but he’s not really concerned about politics, he’s concerned with making sure we the needed things are done well.

Shipley concludes, “So, we’re losing a great man in Bertrand, and we’re gaining one in Craig.”



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