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iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business Paperback – Apr 14 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 14 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471787841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471787846
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.5 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 558 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #436,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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..."the writing is savvy and lively...even readers with a scant interest in computers, technology or animated movies will find the tale entertaining..." (", 29 Aug. 2005) ..."a story of the personalities behind the facts and figures...includes some interesting personal touches..." ("Liverpool Daily Post, 22nd June 2005) " ... rich in anecdotes and retellings of turning points in the lives of Jobs, Apple and Pixar... " ("Information Age, 1st August 2005) ..."the authors paint a vivid picture of Jobs as an occasional genius and a regular jerk. All of which makes for gripping reading for any Mac fan..." ("icreate, July-December 2005) " ... Young and Simon are particularly good at telling the inside story... " ("Belfast Sunday Life, 3 July 2005) " ... new perspectives on the creation of Apple... details Jobs's meteoric rise, fall and rise again... " ("Moneywise, June 2005) " ... a well-balanced look at an incredible life. The achievements are all catalogued in full, as are the personal idiosyncrasies and shortcomings... " ("Glasgow Sunday Herald, June 19 2005) "Provides insight into inner businer business strategies and power plays between larger-than-life personalities such as Disney boss Michael Eisner." ("USA Today) Apparently, this book hit a nerve. Or several. According to media reports, Apple Computer removed all of the titles published by John Wiley & Sons from its retail stores to protest this book. Included were the successful Dummies series, as well as computer-related volumes from popular authors Andy Ihnatko and Bob LeVitus. Sowhat's the fuss? This biography of Apple's co-founder is fairly well balanced. The authors keenly admire Jobs despite the many personal shortcomings they catalog, gleefully referring to sundry over-the-top idiosyncrasies as examples of Jobs' ''Stevian'' hubris. But there's much to admire about Jobs. An adopted child of a northern California working class couple, he parlayed rabid curiosity about electronics, preternatural entrepreneurial zeal and a fierce sense of self into a partnership with the brilliant Steve Wozniak and created the revolutionary Apple II, the first popular personal computer. The pair became multimillionaires, though Wozniak eventually left the company to pursue other interests -- including flying small airplanes -- after nearly dying in a plane crash. Jobs subsequently latched onto and took over a wayward project at Apple to develop the next generation machine, and the resulting Macintosh became the computer of choice for artists and other creative folks. Jobs' prickly personality and immense ambition may have helped drive his success but also fueled clashes with executives, board members and others, and led to his forced departure from the company he co-founded. That was Jobs' wild first act. But authors Jeffrey Young and William Simon also chronicle what came next. After leaving Apple, Jobs' new computer company, NeXT, was a near-disaster. Though technologically advanced, the box was expensive and ill suited for its intended market, universities. Still, the operating system held great promise and the possibility for Jobs' return to the spotlight. When divorce forced Star Wars auteur George Lucas to sell off his nascent computeranimation company, Pixar, Jobs scooped it up at a fraction of the asking price. Soon, the production company allied with Disney and became a creative powerhouse in its own right, with smash films, "Toy Story and "Finding Nemo. When Pixar went public, Jobs became a billionaire. At the same time, Apple was having a rough time with its latest CEO, Gil Amelio, who slashed costs, consolidated product lines and seemed to be on the verge of turning the company around despite a lack of ''Stevian'' political prowess. His search for an appropriate operating system for a new, more powerful Macintosh attracted Jobs' attention. His NeXT software was the ticket back to Apple. After some deft machinations, Amelio was sent packing and Jobs became ''interim'' CEO. Soon, some new, very cool computers were introduced by Apple and the company was again deemed successful and sexy, though Young and Simon suggest that Jobs was the beneficiary of the departed Amelio's cost-cutting and new product development initiatives. Regardless, Jobs struck gold again with the introduction of the iPod music player, and the ''interim'' was removed from his title. The biography includes many personal details that surely embarrass Jobs, such as his early abandonment of a daughter born to an unmarried girlfriend (both of whom he later reconciled with and supported), along with endless examples of pride, egotism, venality, ruthlessness and conceit. But it's still an interesting and engaging tale. Warts and all, for better or worse, Steve Jobs is undisputedly an American business icon. ("Miami Herald, June 6, 2005) "One of the most captivating business biographies of recent years. Young and Simon havedone a masterful job." ("Ft. Worth Star-Telegram) "A fascinating tale of an imaginative genius." ("BookPage)


"My books are about the secret lives of hackers. This book is about the secret life of maybe the most influential person in technology. Who else can you think of that has put his stamp on three industries – computers, music, and movie animation? Once you start reading, you won’t want to put it down."-- Kevin Mitnick, security consultant,, author of The Art of Deception and The Art of Intrusion

"Assembling the artifacts and stories to showcase the achievements of man is the work of museums like ours. But history also relies on authors like Young and Simon, who have done a memorable job compiling the biography of Steven Jobs from conversations with the people who have been players with this extraordinary technology pioneer. And this book is a fascinating read as well."-- John Toole, executive director and CEO, Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California

"During the high-tech boom years when Steve Jobs gained global recognition, I was on the Silicon Valley scene to witness his rise to fame. We all admired his genius and became aware of his flaws, as well. You won’t want to miss this absorbing behind-the-scenes story." -- Steve Westly, controller of the state of California, former senior vice president, eBay

"If technology was a competitive sport, Steve Jobs would be a combination of an NBA misbehaving superstar and an NHL player who high-sticks opponents whenever he thinks they’ve treated him badly. But he’d also be MVP. Fascinating and unforgettable." -- Carol Mitch, Best Damn Sports Show Period

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 50 REVIEWER on June 17 2011
Format: Paperback
Recently Steve Jobs has been named the CEO of the decade by Fortune magazine. The announcement was hardly surprising to anyone who has been following the business world over the last ten years. Apple Computer, the company that he cofounded and the one that his name will always be associated with the most, has gone from the verge of bankruptcy in the late 1990s to one of the most spectacularly successful companies in the World today and the top brand name. The announcement cemented his already stellar and legendary reputation.

Steve Jobs is a rare bird these days: an incredibly successful businessman whose personal life and adventures are almost as intriguing as his business dealings. This is especially true of young Steve, before he matured in a very sober and calculating professional. Stories of Steve's early life are masterfully narrated in "iCon," a very well written and intriguing book. The early chapters of the book are particularly fascinating, and anyone who is not familiar with the early days of Apple Computer and what led to its formation should absolutely read this story. It is filled with anecdotes and first-hand accounts that have since become an integral part of Silicon Valley lore. The creation of Apple Macintosh probably deserves a book of its own, and a very readable one can be found in Revolution in the Valley. This part of the book is a page-turner for any real Mac fan and was hard to put down.

The latter part of the book was rather disappointing. It was largely written from the outside perspective, and many of the stories presented there could have easily been gleaned from the newspaper accounts.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By betty l. dravis on Oct. 3 2005
Format: Hardcover
I live in Silicon Valley and love everything about this place!
You can tell this from a quote in my book, THE TOONIES INVADE SILICON VALLEY:
"If, as Steven King once wrote, 'Valleys are the dimples on the face of the earth,' then Silicon Valley is undoubtedly the deepest, most sparkling dimple of them all." - Betty Dravis
All that aside, I really enjoyed this book about one of our Valley Idols, Steve Jobs. It's obvious the author thinks a lot of Steve, too. I especially enjoyed the funny anecdotes about Jobs. They make him more human, and likable; WARTS AND ALL.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting, good insight into his character and into the world of business.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 98 reviews
93 of 112 people found the following review helpful
Great book that I could hardly put down despite some errors Oct. 2 2005
By T. TOM - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a former employee of Apple, Disney and Lucasfilm ILM and a lover of Apple's industrial design, I found this book a fascinating read. In fact, once I started it, I had trouble putting it down!

There are a few factual errors that surprised me. Example- about a third of the way into the book, it is incorrectly stated that Ridley Scott directed the movie "Aliens". Strange because later on in the book the authors correctly state that James Cameron was the director. Ridley Scott directed the first movie, "Alien".

The book also talks about Pixar being located in Emeryville California around the time Toy Story came out. In fact, Pixar was in Point Richmond and moved to Emeryville years later. Pointing out these errors might seem like nitpicking but since these errors are fairly simple to check on, it leads me to believe that there might be other factual errors throughout the book as well. In other words, you probably shouldn't believe everything you read in this book.

That said, I still found this book a great read. If you are interested in business, technology and animation or want to gleen a window into the way Steve Jobs' mind operates, you should read this book.
64 of 79 people found the following review helpful
Heavy on personality, light on facts Oct. 12 2005
By Peter W - Published on
Format: Hardcover
While an entertaining read, the author injects too much venom to make this a balanced story. The author repeatedly attaches motives, emotions, etc to Jobs without attribution as if he divined Jobs inner spirit. The book also seriously understates Jobs business accomplishments in terms of the growth of Apple Computers, the success of NeXT (let's remember that Jobs NeXT for $400M), and the amazing success of Pixar. Only at the end of the book, does Young casually mention that Jobs sunk $50-$60M of his personal money in Pixar before it became a success.

The author's basic premise is that Jobs is a con (hence the title), and that his success was stolen from Woz, Lasseter, and the brilliant engineers at NeXT. The problem is that facts don't support his hatchet-job approach.

If you are looking for an amateurish psychoanalysis of Steve Jobs, then this is your book.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Waste of Time April 18 2008
By Pinonuar - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a poorly written book. It is biassed toward Steve Jobs and tries to be sensational by exaggerating some events. There are sentences, which are very unfair to Mr. Jobs.

One third of the book is about Disney Corp. !! Why should we read about the fight in Disney Management in so much detail? It could have been explained in few sentences.

The second act of Steve Jobs is poorly written. The stories are taken from magazines. The book doesn't inform us about the new management team at Apple and their relations with Steve Jobs. I am disappointed.

Therefore, don't waste your time and paper. There must be better books about the second act.
23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Reads like a Tabloid June 13 2005
By John Childs-Eddy - Published on
Format: Hardcover
When I first sat down with this book I was EXCITED!

Steve Jobs is sinonymous with Apple, Pixar & the iPod... and as a budding entrepreneur myself, I couldn't wait to learn all about Steve and his philosophy's in business...

However, the author of this book has been disinclined to engage the story of Jobs in an objective way. Instead he is apt to report the story in much the same way the national enquirer might have done it "Apple employee aghast! Jobs washes his feet in toilet to relax at the end of a hard day..."

The petiness that the author bothers to report is quite staggering => the gossip doesn't end with Jobs!

In fact, if you want to hear all about who said what to whom and when, this book will amaze and delight you.

On the other hand, if you want an objective look at an American Icon while learning some business lessons along the way...

Don't bother.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
iCon: Steve Jobs June 5 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Rare is the individual who combines artistic intelligence with the nuts `n' bolts know-how of the technical innovator. Edison, Bell and Ford all possessed visions that transformed society. They also had the ability to move their prototypes into mass production and distribution. This last point -- perhaps mundane to many artists -- has been the downfall of other innovators. Consider, for example, the single magnificent flight of Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose and you immediately dismiss its practicality.

In an odd way, Hughes offers a parallel to the life and career of Steve Jobs, except their similarities run in reverse chronology. Whereas Hughes began his career with considerable family wealth, Jobs was an orphan adopted by working-class parents. While Hughes, once the dapper bachelor, became a filthy recluse -- Jobs began his career as a long-haired, bare-foot entrepreneur who gradually acquired the spit and polish to match his successes in the computer, film and music industries.

These -- and many other personal transformations -- are revealed in a new book: iCon, Steve Jobs, The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business. The co-authors, Jeffrey S. Young and William L. Simon provide a fascinating insight into the world of bleeding-edge technology, the exhausting demands of technical design and the interpersonal struggles of the men and women leading the charge into tomorrow.

So many facets of Steve Jobs appear contradictory. There is the nineteen-year-old college drop-out who gives up all his possessions to become a spiritual mendicant in India. The billionaire entrepreneur dictating design innovations in three distinct industries. The once-orphaned child who later denied legitimacy to his first daughter.

There is also the anger of Steve Jobs about this very book. It is an "unauthorized biography" and the authors have spared nothing to reveal Steve Jobs: warts and all. Apparently the portrait so offended Mr. Jobs that he banned all books published by Wiley & Sons from Apple stores.

Yet because the authors have gone to such lengths to seek second and third opinions about so many episodes, the reporting appears fair and balanced. Furthermore, the writing hums along like a well-crafted novel. Mr. Young, the lead author and founding editor of MacWorld Magazine, has a solid command of the one-paragraph character sketch.

And there are many characters involved in this saga. From Steve Wozniak, the technical whiz-kid who co-founded Apple Computers with Steve Jobs in 1976, to Kobin Chino, the Zen Master who became Mr. Jobs' life-long spiritual guide, to Bill Gates, Michael Eisner, Michael Ovitz, George Lucas, Jeffery Katzenberg, Bono and other leading lights in the computer, film and music business.

Despite the contradictions, the tantrums and rants, the personality clashes and zen koans, a few common threads weave this tale together. Those threads are all spun from Steve Jobs' fixation with design: "Design," he says, "is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service."

His obsessions with design became a form of tyranny among the engineers who worked for him. For others who witnessed his free-wheeling speeches his obsessions generated a blinding charisma. The effects are so infectious they're known as the Steve Jobs "Reality Distortion Field."

One has to admit he uses this power to achieve results. After losing a war at Apple, he incorporated NeXT Computers, wrestled control of Pixar from George Lucas, out-maneuvered Michael Eisner at Disney to produce a string of animated hits, then returned to Apple to launch the iMac, iTunes and iPod.

The risk of constant innovation drives him forward much like the artistic visionary. It defines "the moment that an artist really decides who he or she is," he says. "If they keep on risking failure, they're still artists. Dylan and Picasso were always risking failure." So too, is Steve Jobs -- and the world is better for it.

Steve Jobs bio/career timeline (to 2005):

* Born 24 Feb., 1954, an orphan. Adopted within weeks by Paul and Clara Jobs
* 1973, abandons all possessions to become a wandering mendicant in India
* 1975, returns to USA, meets Zen Buddhist, Kobin Chino who becomes his life-long spiritual guide
* 1 Apr., 1976, with Stephen Wozniak forms Apple Computer to manufacture $50 computer boards
* 1980, with little competition, sales of the Apple II personal computer double for the second year in a row. Later that year, Apple's IPO -- the largest ever at that time -- sells 4.6 million shares in the first hour of trading. Jobs is worth $217.5 million
* 1984, Apple launches the Macintosh computer
* 1985, after months of declining Mac sales and unrelenting internal pressure at Apple, Jobs resigns from Apple. Within weeks he incorporates NeXT Computers
* 1986, Jobs buys Pixar from George ("Star Wars") Lucas
* 1989, Pixar's "Tin Toy" is the first completely computer-based animated film to win an Oscar
* 1995, Pixar-Disney's "Toy Story" opens to rave reviews; one week later Pixar's IPO makes Jobs a billionaire
* 1996, Apple purchases NeXT; Jobs returns to Apple as "Special Advisor"
* 1997, Jobs becomes Apple's "Interim CEO" and within five months announces Apple's return to profitability
* 1998-2004, Pixar releases a string of animated feature hits that earn over $2.5 billion
* 1998, Apple launches the iMac computer
* 2001, Apple introduces iTunes followed by the iPod
* 2004, iPod quarterly sales up 500% from the previous year
* 2005, Jobs is featured on the cover of TIME magazine (for the third time)

D.F. (Don) Bailey [...]
iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business