Steve Jobs admired Mark Zuckerberg for not selling out


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Steve Jobs had some kind words for Mark Zuckerberg before he died.

Despite tensions between their two companies, two of Silicon Valley’s most famous founders got along, well, rather famously.

As we told you, a year ago the Apple co-founder and Facebook founder had dinner at Jobs’ home. Later they strolled the streets of Palo Alto together.


Our sources told us at the time that this get-together was not an isolated meeting of the minds. Jobs often reached out to Zuckerberg, even once with a handwritten note.

In interviews with his biographer Walter Isaacson, Jobs said he respected Zuckerberg for not selling out and for dominating social networking.

‘You know we talk about social networks in the plural but I don’t see anybody other than Facebook out there. It’s just Facebook. They’re dominating this,’ he told Isaacson. ‘I admire Mark Zuckerberg. I only know him a little bit, but I admire him for not selling out. For wanting to make a company. I admire that a lot.’

The admiration was mutual. When Jobs died Oct. 5 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, Zuckerberg paid tribute on his Facebook profile: ‘Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.’

Zuckerberg is frequently mentioned as a possible heir apparent to Jobs.

Jobs said he felt an obligation to counsel other entrepreneurs since Silicon Valley gave him so much. Yet he did not dole out praise easily. He told Isaacson that Microsoft and Google ‘just don’t get it.’

In his official biography out Monday, Jobs assailed Microsoft’s Bill Gates as ‘unimaginative,’ saying Gates never invented anything.


He saved his real venom for Google and vowed to destroy its mobile phone business, Android. Jobs had served as a mentor to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and had welcomed Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt to the Apple board. Google went on to launch Android, which is the main competitive threat to the iPhone.

‘I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,’ he told Isaacson.

‘I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.’

Will Apple now run by Tim Cook go thermonuclear on Android? That could spell big trouble for Google, which is trying to shore up its anemic patent portfolio to protect Android.

Jobs did relent in January when Page approached him for advice on succeeding Schmidt as CEO. Jobs told Isaacson that he was tempted to reject Page, but then remembered how Bill Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, counseled him.

His advice: Build a solid executive team, eliminate bureaucracy and narrow Google’s focus. And that’s exactly what Page has done.


‘The main thing I stressed was to focus,’ Jobs told Isaacson. ‘Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up. It’s now all over the map. What are the five products you want to focus on? Get rid of the rest because they’re dragging you down. They’re turning you into Microsoft. They’re causing you to turn out adequate products that are adequate but not great.’

Google has finally figured out one way to best Facebook, notes Danny Sullivan at

He says: ‘It looks like adding a suggested user list to Google+ has finally paid off in solving its ‘Mark Zuckerberg problem.’ Facebook’s CEO is no longer the most popular person on Google+, having just now been passed by Google CEO Larry Page.’


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-- Jessica Guynn

Top photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Credit: Sebastien Nogier / Reuters

Lower photo: Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press