The Herald Bulletin

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March 28, 2013

New book shares insights from Steve Jobs' first boss

(Continued)

SAN FRANCISCO —

Jobs and Bushnell kept in touch. They would periodically meet over tea or during walks to hash out business ideas. After Bushnell moved to Los Angeles with his family 13 years ago, he didn't talk to Jobs as frequently, though he made a final visit about six months before he died.

There are only a few anecdotes about Bushnell's interaction with Jobs at Atari and about those meetings around Silicon Valley.

The book instead 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.

Bushnell dispenses his advice in vignettes that hammer on a few points. 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.

Many of these principles have become tenets in Silicon Valley's laid-back, risk-taking atmosphere, but Bushnell believes they remain alien concepts in most of corporate America.

"The truth is that very few companies would hire Steve, even today," Bushnell writes in his book. "Why? Because he was an outlier. To most potential employers, he'd just seem like a jerk in bad clothing."

Bushnell says he is worried that Apple is starting to lose the magic touch that Jobs brought to the company. It's a concern shared by many investors, who have been bailing out of Apple's stock amid tougher competition for the iPhone and the iPad and the lack of a new product line since Tim Cook became the company's CEO shortly before Jobs' death. Apple's market value has dropped by 36 percent, or about $235 billion, from its all-time high reached last September.

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