According to a new Bloomberg interview with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, the young Steve Jobs may have been inspired by Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, among other books, in his ambitions with Apple.
(at around 5:30)
INTERVIEWER: Steve, give us some insight into Steve Jobs’s personality and what it is about him that made him so ambitious and so driven to turn Apple around.
STEVE WOZNIAK: I can only speak to the early days. In the early days, he wanted to have a, you know, a success, and he wanted to be an important person in the world. And he wanted to do it by having a company that was successful and made money. And it sort of like evolved in those directions over time. He didn’t lose that part of his personality.
STEVE WOZNIAK: …And he did want to have a successful company, and he had a lot of ideas. He must’ve read some books that really were his guide in life, you know, and I think… Well, Atlas Shrugged might’ve been one of them that he mentioned back then. But they were his guides in life as to how you make a difference in the world. And it starts with a company. You build products and you gotta make your profit, and that allows you to invest the profit and then make better products that make more profit. I would say, how good a company is, it’s fair to measure it by its profitability.
If true, of course, Steve Jobs certainly wouldn’t be alone. Many entrepreneurs have been influenced by Ayn Rand’s novels to push for more entrepreneurial solutions to the world’s problems.
It sounds to me like Wozniak might be a bit of an Atlas Shrugged fan himself.
UPDATE – From Bob Maloney in a Facebook thread:
Mr. Jobs was at the same screening as I on opening night at Shoreline Theatres in Mtn. View a few months ago. I doubt he would have bothered to make it out to a busy opening night showing (especially as frail as he was) unless he was a fan of Atlas Shrugged.
From a new article in The Independent about a Silicon Valley startup being backed by the founders of PayPal:
Polish-born Nosek, 36, worked on supercomputers at the University of Illinois in the early 1990s, then entered Silicon Valley working for the computer-services company Netscape, before co-founding PayPal. He cites as a key personal influence the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, whose ideas picked up considerable traction among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs during the 1990s. “I’m not a libertarian or an objectivist [like Rand],” says Nosek, whose personal collection of elaborately spun theories and stories is â?? like his bank account â?? seemingly inexhaustible. “But the most important lesson I got from Rand was that business can be good or evil. I have realised more and more that great companies, founded for a long-term purpose, such as Google or Facebook or SpaceX, may do more good in the world than any other vehicle that we have.” Nosek became the link-man between Founders Fund and Halcyon Molecular: he is the man who discovered the Andreggs.
See the full article for much more.
In his profile, Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman lists Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged as two of his favorite books — and his list is fairly selective, with only six unique books (plus The Fountainhead listed a second time, since there happen to be two pages for it at Facebook).
A new book review at the Wall Street Journal begins with this story about Ayn Rand and Cecil B. DeMille:
On a cool Southern California morning in September 1926, an impoverished, 21-year-old Russian with sketchy English who had just renamed herself Ayn Rand was dejectedly leaving the DeMille Studio after being told that the publicity department had no job openings. Near the exit gate, she spotted a beautiful open roadster parked by the curb; the man behind the wheel was unmistakably the boss himself. She couldn’t help staring for a moment, then collected herself and turned toward the gate. Before she made it out, however, the car pulled up to her and the driver asked: “Why are you looking at me?”
Cecil B. DeMille shortly invited the young lady into the car and drove her into the nearby hills, where his epic life of Christ, “The King of Kings,” was shooting. The director allowed Rand to observe the filming for a week, then employed her as an extra for three months, whereupon she became a junior writer assigned, eventually, to a picture called “The Skyscraper.” Uninspired by its story and characters, Rand began her own screenplay of the same name, turning the story into one about an architect whose power and integrity intimidate lesser mortals.
The salient point of the Rand-DeMille convergenceâ??as related in “Empire of Dreams,” Scott Eyman’s colossally comprehensive and surprisingly moving biography of DeMilleâ??is not so much that the film director inadvertently helped plant the seed that would blossom into the 1943 novel “The Fountainhead.” (Although it is ironic that Ayn Rand’s name and even that of the novel’s fictional hero, Howard Roark, are undoubtedly more familiar to people under 40 today than is DeMille’s.) Rather, what matters about the episode is that it shows us DeMille as a real-life Roark, a powerful man of such ambition, determination and fearlessness that nothing and no one could stop him.
See the full article for much more about the DeMille biography.
A new documentary movie about the rock band Rush — whose 1976 concept album 2112 featured a title track based loosely on Ayn Rand’s novelette “Anthem” — will be coming to theaters on June 10, 2010.
The trailer is available on YouTube, for those who don’t have Apple’s Quicktime player — but this HQ version at Apple is of much higher quality.
Ed Snider, perhaps best known as owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, is starting a new cable network called RightNetwork, which will compete with Fox News while focusing on entertainment rather than news.
Snider has long been a supporter of Rand-related causes, as he talks about in this 2007 speech.
Hat-tip to Don Hauptman for the link.
From an interesting new interview with John Stossel about his new show on Fox News:
Stossel. How did you come up with that name?
They just sprung it on me.
Tell me a little bit about what the show is going to be.
It will be one subject. The first subject will be maybe Atlas Shrugged or global warmingâ??Atlas Shrugged because I think 50 years ago, Ayn Rand predicted today. It sort of sums up what Iâ??m going to be reporting about.
Ayn Rand predicted what?
Big government, nice-sounding legislation like â??The Preservation of Livelihood Law,â? which mandated that Hank Reardenâ??s production must not be bigger than any other steel mill, to make it a level playing field. Itâ??s silly.
Is that a new law passed by this Congress?
No, but itâ??s what Wesley Mouch, the evil bureaucrat in the book, passed. And what Tim Geithner and what Barney Frank might like to pass.
See the full interview for more.
Celebrity Ayn Rand fan and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has a great article in today’s Wall Street Journal with his recommendations for free market based health care reform (though I take exception to his dietary advice). It’s one of the best articles I’ve seen, in terms of making positive recommendations about how to actually improve the quality of health care in the United States.
AÂ mostly favorable and long (6 pages) profile of Objectivist and former BB&T CEO (current Chairman)Â John Allison from Sunday’s New York Times:Â
OverÂ much of the last four decades, John A. Allison IV built BB&TÂ from a local bank in North Carolina into a regional powerhouse that has weathered the economic crisis far better than many of its troubled rivals â?? largely by avoiding financial gimmickry.
And in his spare time, Mr. Allison travels the country making speeches about his bankâ??s distinctive philosophy.
Speaking at a recent convention in Boston to a group of like-minded business people and students, Mr. Allison tells a story: A boy is playing in a sandbox, only to have his truck taken by another child.Â A fight ensues, and the boyâ??s mother tells him to stop being selfish and to share.
â??You learned in that sandbox at some really deep level that itâ??s bad to be selfish,â? says Mr. Allison, adding that the mother has taught a horrible lesson.Â â??To say man is bad because he is selfish is to say itâ??s bad because heâ??s alive.â?
If Mr. Allisonâ??s speech sounds vaguely familiar, itâ??s because itâ??s based on the philosophy of Ayn Rand, who celebrated the virtues of reason, self-interest and laissez-faire capitalism while maintaining that altruism is a destructive force.Â In Ms. Randâ??s world, nothing is more heroic â?? and sexy â?? than a hard-working businessman free to pursue his wealth.Â And nothing is worse than a pesky bureaucrat trying to restrict business and redistribute wealth.
- Intro to “Give BB&T Liberty, But Not A Bailout”, The New York Times, August 2