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Eric Schmidt on Steve Jobs

The Google executive chairman admired Jobs's passion, courage, and smarts

Everyone knows the transaction where the board sided with John Sculley and Steve left Apple. Steve sold all of his Apple stock, kept one share, and founded NeXT. Typical Steve maneuver. When I was still at Sun Microsystems, I visited him at NeXT—we did a bunch of deals with him. He was exactly the same way he was at Apple: strongly opinionated, knew what he was doing. He was so passionate about object-oriented programming. He had this extraordinary depth. I have a PhD in this area, and he was so charismatic he could convince me of things I didn’t actually believe.

I should tell you this story. We’re in a meeting at NeXT, before Steve went back to Apple. I’ve got my chief scientist. After the meeting, we leave and try to unravel the argument to figure out where Steve was wrong—because he was obviously wrong. And we couldn’t do it. We’re standing in the parking lot. He sees us from his office, and he comes back out to argue with us some more. It was over a technical issue involving Objective C, a computer language. Why he would care about this was beyond me. I’ve never seen that kind of passion.