Malcolm Gladwell, the bestselling author of books like The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference and Outliers: The Story of Success, says that 50 years from now there'll be statues of Bill Gates across the third world, and people will be asking, "who was Steve Jobs?" That's not to say that Gates is perfect; Gladwell is quick to point out that Gates, like Jobs, was "the most ruthless of capitalists" during his tenure at Microsoft.
Of course Gladwell thinks that's a good thing - it's important, he says, that great businessmen be amoral (not immoral, mind you), willing to do what's best for business, setting aside personal qualms and worldly squabbles. That's important to remember that when we're celebrating great entrepreneurs.
Because of this, Gladwell says that in 50 years no one will remember Steve Jobs, or even Microsoft, for that matter. What they will remember is Bill Gates, not as a businessman, but as a hero. Gladwell spoke at the Toronto Public Library about entrepreneurs and the balance between morality and business.
Gates is the most ruthless capitalist, and then he wakes up one morning and he says, 'enough.' And he steps down, he takes his money, he takes it off the table. I firmly believe that 50 years from now, he will be remembered for his charitable work, no one will even remember what Microsoft is. And of the great entrepreneurs of this era people will have forgotten Steve Jobs. Who's Steve Jobs again? There will be statues of Gates across the third world.
Even though Gladwell doesn't think many people will remember Steve Jobs or his accomplishment, he still praises Jobs as a businessman, and uses his career as an example of why it's usually not best to be first. He uses Xerox, Lycos and Friendster as examples of companies that were first but ultimately fizzled. It's still nice to be first-ish, though.
So what do you think? Will people remember Gates and forget Jobs 50 years from now? Or have Jobs' supporters (and Jobs himself) firmly established his legacy? And is it fair to criticize Jobs for not being as charitable as Gates, after his life was cut so tragically short?
Check out the full video of Gladwell's talk below. He discusses Gates at about 9:30, and Steve Jobs at 16:20. It's a bit of a long haul, but all in all pretty interesting stuff.
Via: The Verge
Source: Toronto Public Library (YouTube)