Go Behind the Scenes at Apple, Courtesy of Fortune Magazine
By Ian Paul
Fortune magazine has figured out an interesting way to get people to pay for its periodical on the iPad: write a behind-the-scenes, insider’s view about Apple’s mysterious inner-workings. The magazine has unearthed some interesting little tidbits about one of the world’s most popular technology companies and its CEO, Steve Jobs. The article is based on interviews with former Apple employees many of whom did not want to be named for fear of incurring the wrath of their former employer.
The story isn’t available for free online, so to read it you have to either be a Fortune subscriber, buy the paper magazine or pay $5 to read it on the iPad. It’s an interesting read if you want to spend the money, but for the tl;dr (Too long; didn’t read) crowd, here are three interesting things you may not have known about Apple and Steve Jobs.
You Are In Command Now, Admiral Piett
When Apple introduced MobileMe in 2008–the company’s online sync service for contacts, email, photos, bookmarks and documents–it was universally panned. The system was criticized for email outages, downtime and a sluggish Web app. PCWorld said in its review the service had about 70 bugs at launch.
Unhappy with the result, Jobs called a meeting with the Mobile Me team and read them the riot act over the poor review, according to Fortune. “You should hate each other for having let each other down,” Jobs reportedly told the team after Mobile Me’s disastrous debut. Then, right in the meeting, he named a new executive to run the Mobile Me team.
While that was going on behind the scenes, an email leaked out during the Mobile Me debacle in which Jobs told Apple employees that Mobile Me was “not our finest hour.”
The Cult of Mac
There’s reportedly a group of elites among Apple employees called the ‘Top 100.’ This group goes on an annual three-day retreat at a secret location where employees discuss strategy and Jobs’ overall vision for the company. People in this group aren’t allowed to admit they’re in it and they have to take a company bus to the meetings instead of driving there themselves. Fortune didn’t mention whether Kool-Aid was served during the retreat.
A.J.: After Jobs
Steve Jobs appears to be keenly aware that Apple’s current success depends largely on his vision and is preparing for the day when he will no longer be at the company’s helm. To that end he created Apple University managed by Joel Podolny, former dean of the Yale School of Management. . AU’s creation was widely reported when the new venture began in 2008, but at the time it wasn’t clear what was going on at AU or why the company started it.
Fortune says AU hired academics such as Andy Grove and Richard Tedlow to write case studies about “significant decisions in Apple’s recent history.” The idea is for Apple’s future executives to learn about company culture by reviewing turning points in company history such as the creation of Apple’s retail chain. AU courses are taught by Apple execs including COO Tim Cook and Apple’s retail boss Ron Johnson.
The way Fortune describes it, AU’s case studies sound less like tools for a business school course and more like a treasure equal to the Dead Sea Scrolls. “Jobs even is ensuring that his teachings are being collected, curated, and preserved so that future generations of Apple’s leaders can consult and interpret them,” Fortune says.
So there you have it, a Sunday peek behind the curtain at Apple Headquarters. The Fortune article is an interesting read for Apple fans and anyone else who likes to read about the corporate culture of the technology industry’s most enigmatic company.