The Tao of Steve

New York’s Tech Community Remembers Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs at MacWorld, New York City, July 17, 2001


After the news about Apple founder Steve Jobs death broke last night, Betabeat reached out to a few members of the New York tech community and asked them to share their thoughts and impressions of the ultimate CEO. Here’s what they had to say:

Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures:

Steve Jobs is the iconic entrepreneur of the information age. He impacted everyone and everything. It is a great loss.

Marc Cendella, The Ladders:

We’ve lost our Jobs. Life

swipes by, fingerprints reveal:

He adopted us.

David Tisch, Techstars:

When I sat down with the 60 entrepreneurs in the TechStars program last night, we had a moment of silence… No one even blinked. As I addressed the group, the message was simple: Steve Jobs created things people dream of, he changed the world in ways people can only dream of, he impacted each one of our own dreams. As you embark on your journey to create something, I can only hope each of you strive to impact the world in a profound way.

To know that for the next 100 years, companies will be inspired by what Steve Jobs has created, will care about design and user experience, will focus on the customer… that is an impact. It is an impact that every child growing up will inherently and unknowingly feel, as they use his computers, phones, and what’s yet to come. My first computer was an Apple IIGS. My computers today are all built by Apple. Hopefully my last computer will be an Apple, too. Only visionaries can impact the future and leave it a better place; he did. I hope we can also make a “dent in the universe”, or at least dream to.

Dina Kaplan,

When I think about Steve Job’s legacy for entrepreneurs, I think about two things. First, your product has to be good. So good people are excited to use it and feel happy interacting with it. When you’re managing a start-up you’re juggling a number of glass and rubber balls–some of which can drop and survive, but others which have to always be in the air.  Thinking about what Steve Jobs accomplished at Apple focuses your mind on the importance of a strong base for your company, which is always product.

Second, I remember hearing him say that the Apple Store was the best marketing the company ever did. I love that. Build a great product and showcase it in a wonderful way, and your hard work is done. It’s simple, clean, inspirational and motivating.

sjobs New Yorks Tech Community Remembers Steve JobsScott Heiferman, Meetup:

A friend I haven’t heard from since 1990 just tweeted: “@heif Heard the news. Became teenager again. Heard you preaching the gospel of Jobs.”

Obviously, he was a lifelong hero.

Chris Dixon, Hunch:

My entire life has been shaped by computers and from the Apple II to the iPhone it was always computers invented by Steve Jobs.  Every technology entrepreneur looked up to him as the greatest innovator and entrepreneur we’d ever seen – and will likely ever see again.  His passing is just an incredibly sad day for the tech world but most importantly his family and friends.

Bre Pettis, Makerbot:

My family had a software company called “Software Productions” that made children’s software for the Apple II+. The programmers that worked on the software were 17 and 18 year old hackers and as a 10 year old, these guys programming software for the Apple II+ were magicians that could make the computer sing. Those programmers were my childhood heroes. I daydreamed that I would be as cool as them when I grew up. I remember being in school and there was an Apple II+ in the classroom and I was so proud that I knew how to make it work and could edit the hex code and hack it to make my characters in the game wizardry have 10 million gold pieces. That computer opened up the world for geeks like me in the 80’s and inspired a generation of young people to understand technology and use it creatively.

Those early computer experiences have led me to start a 3D printer company called MakerBot to bring 3D printing to average person and to the classrooms of the world so that young people can have that same rush that I felt with the Apple II+. Every creative project I’ve ever done was done on hardware that Steve Jobs had a hand in. The beautiful style and the focus on user friendly interfaces changed the face of computing and made it easy to use for people to be creative. His work is an inspiration and he was taken too early and will be missed by everyone who has ever appreciated an Apple product..

Charlie O’Donnell, First Round Capital:

I teach a course called Intro to Tech Ventures at Fordham.  I don’t really care too much if they write a winning business plan or build an app that gets a million downloads.  I want them to walk out of the class thinking that they can change the world driven by passion for quality, caring about customers, and being resilient–and that’s what Steve Jobs did.  He went from being some kid in a garage to changing the way we live and how we interact with each other.  It’s probably the second greatest story ever told.

Avner Ronen, Boxee:

Like many other entrepreneurs I am an Apple fanboy. Standing in lines to get the latest device. Hitting ‘refresh’ on my browser reading a “live” blog covering their latest product announcement. Jobs have changed the world for the better in numerous ways. He challenged and inspired everyone else to build better products. He made users expect more. He is responsible for spreading joy among millions of people.

His commencement speech from 2005 has been an inspiration on a personal level as well. Like many others I will share it with my kids when they grow up. It is sad he died at such a young age, but it seems he lived a full and great life, true to his principals and leaving behind a legacy that will live on for generations.

Mike Brown, Aol Ventures:

I remember buying my first iPhone and thinking to myself, ‘wow, this is a truly unique user experience and what an amazing device.’ It was a surprise and delight moment that I’d only experienced once before in my life when interacting with a consumer product [the other being flying on a Virgin Atlantic plane]. He really entrenched my belief that the true winners are those that make beautiful and highly functional experiences for consumers. Overall, his legacy will likely be unmatched and he already serves as an awesome inspiration to me and others who aspire to be the next generation of Jobs, Branson, etc.

Ricky Van Veen, College Humor:

Like many now, the way I tend to hear about notable deaths is via text message. And my reaction is usually “Oh, that’s too bad.” With Steve Jobs, it was different. I didn’t even know how to respond. And that’s how I felt when I read it–a full-body visceral reaction to the news. I then realized what a subtle and odd tribute it is to a technology innovator to have the news of his death carried by a product that was his brainchild.

Few things upset me more than unrealized potential. Steve saw industry after industry for what they *could* be, and not for what they are, and then made them better for everyone. He unlocked their potential. And I think about that in terms of Steve’s life. Even with all he accomplished in his unfairly short time here, I’ll still always wonder what else was bound to come out of that curious and brilliant mind. For people in the technology industry, yesterday we lost more than an innovator. We lost a role model, and a paragon of excellence. An example to the rest of us of how good we could be — if we could just be Steve Jobs.

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Apple Store on 5th Avenue, with a tribute to Steve Jobs spray-painted on a temporary construction barrier. October 5, 2011


Anil Dash, Activate:

The lesson I take from Steve Jobs’ life isn’t about any products or software, but much more about the channeling of ambition. Many, many people are driven and have lofty goals, but he made clear that you can only really capitalize on grandiose ambitions by channeling the energy of lots of other people towards that vision, and that’s an amazingly powerful skill.

It’s akin to James Brown; He’s enormously influential on even the music we hear on the radio today, but he didn’t play the drums or the horns on any of his big hits. He wasn’t even that great of a singer. He just knew how to articulate a vision for how things should be in a way that would bring the best out of others.

And Jobs was similar to that, especially in that he recognized he wasn’t just making technology, he was shaping _culture_. He acted like that from nearly the beginning of his career, at a time when such a idea seemed ludicrously grandiose. Just as Gates seemed wildly ambitious for imagining everyone would use a computer and use software, Jobs seemed crazy for imagining everyone would use a computer (in perhaps an unrecognizable form) to shape the way that culture is created. But as ever, what seems crazy is often just early.

Lauren Leto, Bnter:

Steve Jobs was a role model for us all in the most true sense of the word, not just a name to repeat as someone you’d like to resemble but an imposing persona to have in mind while we pitch, while we plan, while we provide. The generations before Jobs believed invention came from making objects fancier, adding bells and whistles, Jobs decided innovation was making objects simpler, making them intuitive. It’s because of Jobs that our generation is no longer inventing, we’re breaking things down.

Cody Brown, Commons Labs:

The first computer I ever owned was an iBook. I was 13, the processor was a blazing 600 Mhz, and my friends and family wanted me to buy a Dell. I could see their points about Apple being too ‘niche’ but I caved and I bought the iBook and I became a Mac person in the generic way a lot of people become Mac people. I’d spend hours on the MacRumors forums, I’d try to convince everyone I met to switch to Mac, and I repeatedly tried to get my parents to buy Apple stock. They didn’t, but my grandma eventually caught wind of this and gave me 50 shares of stock for my birthday. Half those shares were sold this year to keep my company running when it was on the verge of falling apart. I made a long bet on Jobs and he returned the favor.

When I read that he passed last night I got quiet and I wanted to be alone. I never met steve jobs, I never even emailed him but I feel like he’s been with with me and he’s been a friend since I bought my first mac 10 years ago. There is nothing more anxiety inducing than the constant creation of new technology and Jobs, for so long, has countered this emotion with awe. When Jobs is on stage, Moore’s Law and our own potential have always been positively correlated but he’s never taken for granted that this happens naturally. I wanted nothing more than to meet him because I, like so many, craved to see what he was like off stage when things are hard and the answers aren’t clear. But we don’t have that option anymore, we only have recording of his life and his art which we often clutch in the palm of our hands. We’ve lost our leader in technology and I think we’d be lying to ourselves if we didn’t also accept that we lost a moral and religious leader. Jobs spoke with a lucid philosophical clarity that was unmatched by anyone in tech and his endorsement meant everything. Those who had it, no longer can take it for granted and those who tried to get it, now need to think about why. I think we’re going to do a lot of wandering now and I think we have a lot of hard questions to ask ourselves that we may have previously ignored. I think he’d say that this is good.

All pictures via Getty Images