Erick Schmidt and Steve Jobs have had their squabbles over the years, most famously when Jobs felt Schmidt stabbed him and Apple in the back with their plans for Android. You might remember that Schmidt at one point was a board member at Apple before resigning in 2009 citing a conflict of interest due to Google’s increasing interest in the smartphone market.
In fact, word has it that Jobs even ripped into Schmidt while the latter was busy having a grand old time at Burning Man in Las Vegas.
The Apple CEO “shouted” at Schmidt and “railed” at him, furious about his smartphone plans and duplicity, said our source. After all, Schmidt sat on Apple’s board and was supposed to be a partner on the iPhone, providing internet services like maps.
Schmidt, enduring the abuse, visibly lost his composure; his face went “weird,” said our source.
“Steve was very, very upset,” Schmidt is said to have later told his companion Bohner. “My God, he was so angry.”
But it wasn’t long before the two were seen chatting over coffee in the Valley, and while perhaps Jobs never forgave Schmidt as Google quickly emerged as Apple’s next Microsoft, the two seemed to have patched things up well enough to get coffee together.
Writing for Businessweek, Schmidt relays a few anecdotes about the Steve Jobs that he knew. Schmidt recounts that when he was working at Sun, he used to visit Jobs at NeXT as the two companies had business dealings together.
He was exactly the same way he was at Apple: strongly opinionated, knew what he was doing. He was so passionate about object-oriented programming. He had this extraordinary depth. I have a PhD in this area, and he was so charismatic he could convince me of things I didn’t actually believe.
I should tell you this story. We’re in a meeting at NeXT, before Steve went back to Apple. I’ve got my chief scientist. After the meeting, we leave and try to unravel the argument to figure out where Steve was wrong—because he was obviously wrong. And we couldn’t do it. We’re standing in the parking lot. He sees us from his office, and he comes back out to argue with us some more. It was over a technical issue involving Objective C, a computer language. Why he would care about this was beyond me. I’ve never seen that kind of passion.
Schmidt has publicly stated, quite effusively, the amount of respect he has for Jobs and is quick to point out that Jobs was always one step ahead of him. For instance, Schmidt recalls telling Jobs that nobody was interested in tablet computing and that existing tablets were incredibly underwhelming. “No, we can build one,” Jobs replied back.
“One of the things about Steve is, he was always in the realm of possibility”, Schmidt said. “There was a set of assumptions that Steve would make that were never crazy. They were just ahead of me.”
But as has become quite evident over the past week, Steve Jobs, more than anything he did at Apple, NeXT, or Pixar, was most proud of his family.
Steve and I were talking about children one time, and he said the problem with children is that they carry your heart with them. The exact phrase was, “It’s your heart running around outside your body.” That’s a Steve Jobs quote. He had a level of perception about feelings and emotions that was far beyond anything I’ve met in my entire life. His legacy will last for many years, through people he’s trained and people he’s influenced. But what death means is you can’t call—you can’t call him. It’s a loss. I’ll miss talking to him.