The most dangerous man in Silicon Valley


That's what Robert X Cringely called Steve Jobs in Accidental Empires. He called Gates the Demo God in the same book. Role reversal anyone?

Wired says it's the Biggest Reunion Since Simon & Garfunkel but I'd prefer to go more local with Paul and John. Sadly the latter will never happen of course but seeing Steve and Bill (or is it Bill and Steve) on stage together this week as the D conference is a hot ticket - and not just with geeks. Regardless of their feuds and war of words over the years and even those naff Mac ads, these two guys have dominated the IT industry for 30 years. Frankly I'm interested in listening to one of them on stage but both together should be a real treat.

Fake Steve is doing a great job of whipping up the crowd and it promises to be the ultimate showdown. The king of cool against the ubergeek. Wired set the scene nicely with some historic quotes:

 

Gates on Jobs:

"Do you really think Steve Jobs has got anything there? I know his technology, it's nothing but warmed-over Unix."Attributed in On the Firing Line: My 500 Days at Apple, by Gil Amelio, 1998

 

Jobs on Gates:

"I am saddened, not by Microsoft's success -- I have no problem with their success. They've earned their success, for the most part. I have a problem with the fact that they just make really third-rate products." -- Triumph of the Nerds, PBS documentary, 1996 (Ed. note: According to an Aug. 8, 1997 New York Times story, Jobs later called Gates to apologize for his comments in the film.)

 

I think they've both matured somewhat since then and I actually think Bill will do pretty well in a Q&A format - he thinks fast on his feet and is actually a pretty funny guy. Steve is the master showman and I love his presentations. Can he make it work in Q&A? We shall see.

 

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Comments (7)
  1. Sharpe says:

    Quick on his feet, really? He can’t answer an interview question about an elevator pitch on Vista. He rambled on and on without answering the question that would have required an elevator on a 200 story building that stopped on every floor. He couldn’t spin a question on I’m a Mac, I’m a PC advertisement to his advantage, but he got all pissed off and cut the interview short. I don’t think he is nimble at all, more like some old guy with a broken leg leaning on a bent crutch who walks on a sandy beach.

  2. Yeah, really. So you saw Bill in one TV interview and that’s the marker. I’ve seen him quite a few more times and though I can’t say how he’ll do this week, I stand by my statement. How many times have you actually seen him speak? And how many times have you seen Steve speak (without it being scripted)?

    let me take a wild guess here. you don’t own a PC do you?

  3. DBL says:

    Steve is always great off-the-cuff too. He can definitely take care of himself. Bill on the hand has a tendency to drop into drone mode for long stretches, probably because all of the information he feels he has to get out to detail corporate strategy is impossible to get through any other way, so if he approaches the conference as an opportunity to hit all the rote phrasings and slogans I think he will make a poor showing of it.

    If Steve gets Bill’s dander up, it could get really interesting because I have heard tell about Bill throwing down and I’ve heard he can be formidable, but I have never seen it.

  4. DBL says:

    By the way, I don’t think this is going to be a catfight. I don’t think that Bill would do it if that’s what he thought he was getting himself into, and I don’t think Steve would do it unless he could confound our expectations with it in some way. And both those signals point in the direction of this being a general rapprochement with backslapping and oodles of mutual respect exchanged, inevitably to be followed by the obligatory: "Mac vs. PC – Are the OS Wars Over?" articles. If it fits the pattern, the result of this process will be even more innovatively underhanded  varieties of backstabbing and sneak attacks developed on all sides.

  5. stevecla01 says:

    I’m with ya DBL. This is waaay to overhyped for it to live up to the "deathmatch" exepctations. it would be good to see Steve get Bill’s dander up though.

    I expect at least one cheap shot per side though. I’d be disappointed if not 🙂

  6. jbelkin says:

    Steve talking off the cuff CNBC interview:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7wXWDrvj0M

  7. stevecla01 says:

    okay though we didn’t hear him get asked too many questions. that was a classic PR handled interview if you ask me. Don’t get me wrong, I think Steve is awesome but people underrate Bill. Steve was brilliant with the Cupertino Council at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmPdcwgO96c

    but then so was Bill on Channel 9

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm_z_3Gzbi8

    or in the UK recently

    http://blogs.msdn.com/stevecla01/archive/2007/01/31/government-leaders-forum-gordon-brown-and-bill-gates.aspx

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