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Steve Jobs' First Boss: 'Very Few Companies Would Hire Steve, Even Today' 420

Posted by samzenpus
from the hire-different dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Mercury News reports that Nolan Bushnell, who ran video game pioneer Atari in the early 1970s, says he always saw something special in Steve Jobs, and that Atari's refusal to be corralled by the status quo was one of the reasons Jobs went to work there in 1974 as an unkempt, contemptuous 19-year-old. 'The truth is that very few companies would hire Steve, even today,' says Bushnell. 'Why? Because he was an outlier. To most potential employers, he'd just seem like a jerk in bad clothing.' While at Atari, Bushnell broke the corporate mold, creating a template that is now common through much of Silicon Valley. He allowed employees to turn Atari's lobby into a cross between a video game arcade and the Amazon jungle. He started holding keg parties and hiring live bands to play for his employees after work. He encouraged workers to nap during their shifts, reasoning that a short rest would stimulate more creativity when they were awake. He also promised a summer sabbatical every seven years. Bushnell's newly released book, Finding The Next Steve Jobs: How to Find, Hire, Keep and Nurture Creative Talent, serves as a primer on how to ensure a company doesn't turn into a mind-numbing bureaucracy that smothers existing employees and scares off rule-bending innovators such as Jobs. The basics: Make work fun; weed out the naysayers; celebrate failure, and then learn from it; allow employees to take short naps during the day; and don't shy away from hiring talented people just because they look sloppy or lack college credentials. Bushnell is convinced that there are all sorts of creative and unconventional people out there working at companies today. The problem is that corporate managers don't recognize them. Or when they do, they push them to conform rather than create. 'Some of the best projects to ever come out of Atari or Chuck E. Cheese's were from high school dropouts, college dropouts,' says Bushnell, 'One guy had been in jail.'"
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Steve Jobs' First Boss: 'Very Few Companies Would Hire Steve, Even Today'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @08:50PM (#43327615)

    In all seriousness, other than during the bubble, has it ever been easy to get a job?

    Sometimes it feels like I've been hearing 'in this economy' for my whole life. Admittedly, I haven't been around as long as many, but that's what it honestly feels like.

  • yes, true for me (Score:5, Informative)

    by broward (416376) <<browardhorne> <at> <gmail.com>> on Sunday March 31, 2013 @08:50PM (#43327617) Homepage

    Ive done quite innovative stuff (datamining/meme manipulation) for the past fifteen years but few companies want to hire me, so Ive done contracting for the past eight years. Most companies pay lip service to innovation but few truly recognize it or desire it.

    Managers advance by minimizing risk, not by innovating.
    Thats just the nature of business and people.

  • Re:Steve Jobs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @09:15PM (#43327731)

    > Why does everyone forget that he was pushed out when Scully cam on board?

    Actually, he was pushed out of the Lisa project first, then took over Macintosh from Jef Raskin. He had a definite plan for where Macintosh should go, and if sales had kept up, he might have had a shot at staying in control. Instead, because he was in denial about sales performance, Scully came up with his own plan to salvage the situation. Jobs disagreed and bad-mouthed Scully around Apple. They fought for control and Jobs basically made an ultimatum to the board: him or me. The board said "him."

    Technically Jobs wasn't fired, he was just stripped of all managerial duties, but effectively they gave him no choice but to leave.

  • Re:Steve Jobs (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @09:17PM (#43327743)

    To be completely fair to history, he didn't start Pixar he acquired them. And, their management said that they succeeded in spite of him, because they ignored everything that he told them to do. The only time he ever really shined was at Apple. And, the only time Apple ever shined was when he was there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @10:03PM (#43327965)

    The first 9 numbers, listed in alphabetical order.

  • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @10:26PM (#43328035) Journal

    If you're an analog wizard who lives for implementing analog IP in silicon, and can relocate to Winston-Salem, ping me, because we've got openings. If you are a web design wizard, and JSON, Javascript, SQL (barf!), C#, Knockout and Bootstrap seem natural and easy to work with, and if you can live anywhere from Winston-Salem to Raleigh, ping me. I could use your help building EDA web stuff. If you can design digital, that's a bonus. If you can do digital and analog, and are a web wizard, then you must be God.

  • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @10:44PM (#43328103) Journal

    I can only tell you about what it was like since 1986 when I went to work in Silicon Valley. First, if you love engineering or computer science and are really good at it, there's always a job. All that changes is the pay. In 1982, as a senior in high school, I was trilled to make minimum wage, $4/hour, programming a PDP-11 in Fortran IV. With a BS from Berkeley in EECS, and a never-ending hard-on for cool tech, I got $29K/year in 1986 at National Semi. Inflation adjusted, it's about the same as what we offer grads today. The 90's were freaking awesome. I had two startups I worked at go IPO, and had my pay increased to $140K by 1998, plus awesome stock options. Those were the good old days... 2002 sucked hugely. The number of resumes I got for a job posting was unbelievable. It was not humanly possible to read them all. Things got almost normal again a couple of years later, and then in 2008 the Great Recession hit. I suspect the resumes would have been an inhuman pile, except we couldn't hire anyone.

    So, yeah, there are times when it's hard to get a job even if you are a certified genius willing to work for free, and times when anyone with a pulse can get a job in tech. These last few years were about the worst anyone who was born after WWII can remember. Fortunately, it seems to be turning around. If you're friends are still complaining that there's no work, maybe they aren't all that good, or maybe they aren't looking hard enough. They will make less than what we paid in the best times in the 90's, but they'll do as well as good engineers have traditionally done in this country. It's all fine for now... thank God. That recession sucked hugely.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @11:16PM (#43328209)

    But, I don't mix with people like Steve was. I can appreciate the creativity of his methods. I can dislike the shitheel he was to people.I can resent his business model. I can disdain his treating the user as a stupid money machine. I abhor his refusal to standard and compete with his contemporaries, instead embracing proprietary hardware, software and noninteroperability with erstwhile competition.

            I couldn't bring myself to hire him to make me money that crossed my ethics, in spite of his pied piper control of a market of money-cow-drones.
    I damned sure wouldn't use the stupid hippy for a shield at a shitfight. R.I.P. may your technical marvels fill our landfills months before your name is forgotten to save brain cells to focus on the Next Big Thing. He will not be missed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 01, 2013 @12:03AM (#43328373)

    Analytics/data science. I can't find anyone quickly enough to fill the open positions we have to complete the amount of work we have lined up.

    I provided offers to three people in the last 4 months and all of them called to say they took another job the day before they were going to start.

    The field is highly competitive, salaries are very high (I am very well paid compared to many of my friends in IT and certainly far more than anyone else), and the opportunities and freedom are abundant.

    Most associate level positions are starting at $60k with any experience, mid-level is 60-85k and Senior level is going for 85-135k right now. I just hired someone from TX and offered full relo, 6 weeks PTO, and a $10k signing bonus on top of a $125k salary.

    For the Upper Midwest, those salaries are big dollars.

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