Elon Musk is Not Steve Jobs: Why The Comparisons Need to Stop

This podcast discusses the two most common people who have recently been compared to Steve Jobs: Elizabeth Holmes, who has now been sued for fraud by the SEC and Elon Musk who - uh - hasn't. In this podcast I talk about the history of Apple and Steve Jobs as it compares to both Elizabeth Holmes and Elon Musk. I point out similarities and differences between Apple and Jobs when Apple first went public and Tesla and Elon Musk as it exists today.

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snblitz Sun, 05/20/2018 - 19:16 Permalink

I met both Jobs and Wozniak in the early days of Apple Computer Inc.

So early, that the Apple ][ has not been invented yet. (Prior to the Apple ][ was 'the apple computer' which was $666.66) (yes it's true))

Comparing Musk or Theranos to either Steve's is an insult to the Steves.

DemandSider snblitz Mon, 05/21/2018 - 07:13 Permalink

Jobs was a greedy bastard, needlessly reliant on expensive, proprietary products and software. Apple is The Schwinn Bicycle of electronic toy producers, refusing to allow their products to play nice with existing parts, add ons or accessories, and we can only hope they also go to generic, PRC oblivion to die. Still, today, Apple, with unmitigated gall, charges premium prices for over blown products almost exclusively produced in Communist China, while claiming to be a foreign corporation to evade American taxation. I've never spent dime one on any Apple products, and I've usually felt sorry for those I've known who own them, who are too ignorant to understand how badly they've been taken advantage of. For those conspicuous consumers, basically buying Apple products as a fashion statement, you deserve them.

Were it my legal right to do so, I would proudly urinate on Job's grave, daily.


P.S.  Most critics of Musk on ZH produce more value in one dump than they will in their entire professional lives, and they know it.

In reply to by snblitz

a Smudge by an… DemandSider Mon, 05/21/2018 - 07:51 Permalink

Martin Shkreli sits in a hole while Elizabeth Holmes walks free because her former board reads like a who's who of the Pentagon.

Shkreli's main crime was being honest about who he is. And this barritone voiced flaxen haired crazy eyed bitch is busy spooning beluga into her fat mouth and washing it down with Veuve Cliquot.

Justice isn't blind. She wrapped her hankie around her eyes so we can't see her crying.

In reply to by DemandSider

Dr. Heywood Floyd DoctorFix Mon, 05/21/2018 - 12:47 Permalink

Back in those days, one of Apple's biggest rivals was Radio Shack with the TRS-80. That played out rather decisively.

I knew a kid in high school who was a full blown stereotypical uber-nurd who had a TRS-80 color computer (CoCo as they called them). The silver finish was worn off the front of the case from hundreds of hours of use. What a brilliant coder!! He came up with all sorts of games and animations, working down at the machine level. I have no idea what became of him.

In reply to by DoctorFix

Donate Moar Dr. Heywood Floyd Mon, 05/21/2018 - 13:17 Permalink

Well, its many years later, and I still have that computer.

But I have developed an intense Hatred of programming the fuckers.

Every time we got a stable product, that fucker Bill Gates would jam a God Damn upgrade down our throat and the testing department AND customers would start screaming at the top of their bloody lungs.

FUCK COMPUTERS.  I fix small engines now.  I still have that worn down keyboard, and the memory of many bitter roommates in college that could never sleep because I was TAPPY TAPPY TAP TAP on the keyboard all night long.  Space bar was always the loudest on the TRS-80.

(Yeah, I know I'm typing on a GOD DAMN COMPUTER, but I sure as shit will throw it out the window if it even looks at me funny).


In reply to by Dr. Heywood Floyd

DontWorry Sun, 05/20/2018 - 19:30 Permalink

Both were brilliant at seizing the biggest opportunity of the time - Steve at capitalizing on technology and Elon at grabbing free gov money right from the spigot.

Heterodox economics Sun, 05/20/2018 - 20:44 Permalink

The pod cast makes good points but it could have been streamlined.

An important difference between Apple and Tesla is that Apple makes money hand over fist, while Tesla is in the red.

A company that's in the red for a couple of years can eventually becomes profitable. One example of this is Amazon.

Musk is not the next Steve Jobs. But he's not a fraud like E. Holmes. Musk will not be the next Bezos.

My prediction: when the next recession occurs and the accompanying bear market in stocks--which I think will happen in the next two years--Tesla will dramatically decline in value and go bankrupt.

truthalwayswinsout Sun, 05/20/2018 - 21:16 Permalink

I knew both Jobs and Wozniak in Silicon Valley and was around when they could not sell their computers. In fact, the real reason for their success was an accounting software program that emptied their warehouse and saved them from bankruptcy.

Other than that and the fact they could not build a computer to save their lives and hired Wozniak's old boss at HP who fixed their crap computer they would be a figment of everyone's imagination. But that is not as bad as the fact that Jobs sexually harassed employees all the time.

That is why the current leadership at Apple is the gay squad. 

They even had a chance to dominate the computer business when they interviewed the key person who made the Amiga computer such a success and the #1 seller in the world. But they believe their tech is so superior that they can sell at a premium which always gets them to a peak but ensures their failure just a few short years later.

Right now there are iphone killers being built that are 2-3 times better than the iphone. So Apple is Apple and is headed for a massive fall off as their phone business goes south.

a Smudge by an… truthalwayswinsout Mon, 05/21/2018 - 07:56 Permalink

And this is what keeps me coming to ZH.

So who wrote the accounting software? And what was it called?

Sorry, I'm Open Source so I never really dipped into the Appleverse. As a former IT guy my familiarity stated and stopped with giving the graphic designers their own subdomain and letting them self-administer. I kind of regarded them as witches and they certainly regarded me as an evil fascist.

Indeed, my nemisis was not named Steve Jobs but rather Bill Gates. We attacked him on the network level and chased his crap out of running our infrastructure. In return, we gave everybody his Microsoft Office which made the (l)users very happy indeed.

I acutally loved Outlook at one point but what they did with Exchange servers has been a hugely bigly pain in the ass from day one.

In reply to by truthalwayswinsout

Fed-up with be… GunnerySgtHartman Mon, 05/21/2018 - 09:32 Permalink

I was there.   I am an old guy and was working in MINI-Computers (rememer those?) during those times. I recall the first "Internets."  I add the "s" as a joke.   One of my first big breaks was in the DOS to Windows universe, and I was working in Peripherals (we call them Disk drives and Printers now) and I grew up on the PC side, not the Apple-Sphere.


In fact, the debate over Apple versus the PC was won on pure volume alone.   What saved Apple's big butt is the smart phone and it is a marvel as I use one (NEVER an APPLE) and the Androids are pretty simple and work.  I use a smart phone as my WIFI connection full time Now as I travel in a bus.



In reply to by GunnerySgtHartman

flight77 truthalwayswinsout Tue, 05/22/2018 - 02:58 Permalink

Well, I am a long year Windows guy (20 plus years). I considered buying an Imac for Video editing with fcpx, since Adobe charges a monthly rental fee, and I don´t like that. Apple charges once around 300 USD  and it´s <ours incl. updates. I was so surprised. They gave me excellent information from a very well educated salesman who is also doing workschops. These Apple inhouse workshops don´t cost a penny. They have different workshops every day, for ipad, iphone and mac. I bought me an ipad with a keyboard. I am impressed. My wife is a teacher owns her Ipad for at least 6 years. She never ever had any problems, and she uses it every day.  Well, I think they deliver value for money. And the new 5k Imac screen is of fantastic quality, and alone worth the 1700 USD. I don´t see there any Premium on the product.

In reply to by truthalwayswinsout

RedBaron616 Sun, 05/20/2018 - 21:47 Permalink

I don't have time to listen to these. If you can't put them into print, I don't care what this guy has to say. Same reason I don't listen to talk radio. How can you properly analyze what is said? Written material lends itself better to critical analysis.

oncemore1 RedBaron616 Mon, 05/21/2018 - 01:35 Permalink

It is painfull to listen to him.

a magnitude of 100 worse, than corbett report (first class speaker, always to the subject, spares a lot of time, short (as long as needed) and pregnant).

This one is a full disaster. Lenghty, not to the subject, all and everything in one podcast, seems not to prepare himself, just a lot of improvisation.

In reply to by RedBaron616

a Smudge by an… oncemore1 Mon, 05/21/2018 - 08:04 Permalink

I remember this segment of media where a privileged 9 year old child was raving that "Steve jobs made the Apple, the iphone, the tablet, everything that matters!"

I remember my heart sinking in me and thinking what a horrible dis-service my geek peers have provided to this kid. How we as parents on a macro level have let this kid down. It made me feel like a failure.

The plus side is the kid has some years under his belt now and with any luck (gods be good) he realizes what a pile of complete and total bullshit it is now.

In reply to by oncemore1

sheikurbootie Sun, 05/20/2018 - 23:17 Permalink

Steve Jobs didn't invent a rocket that can fucking land, he invented a PC.  He's hailed for the Iphone which was stolen from the Palm Pilot touch screen device.  Big fucking deal.  Jobs is as big a nothing as Gates.  Fuck both.

Musk will change the world with his solar roof tiles. 

I own no stock and have no financial interest in any of the above.  My opinion is Musk is far greater of an inventor/visionary than Jobs/Gates et al.

booboo sheikurbootie Sun, 05/20/2018 - 23:49 Permalink

The next question that must be asked is how to get people to buy into a 40 grand roof....oh that’s right..#1 you won’t have a choice because musk has mastered manipulating .gov and # #2 power bills will rise not lower as the utility company will pass legislation the allows them to but back excess energy for penning on the dollar. And of course we all know the solar cells are built and disposed by elves at the north pole by fairy dust and recycled for free.

In reply to by sheikurbootie

sheikurbootie booboo Mon, 05/21/2018 - 00:30 Permalink

I did price the roof and 2 power cells.  In my case, $45,000 traditional roofing vs. $60,000 for solar/2 power cells. 

It will take 100 months to make it cost effective, but there's something to say about being off the grid.  I live on a farm, so it's double plus good to be able to be one more step towards self reliance.  I have not checked on insurance, but all in all it makes more sense than a generator sucking 1000 gals of propane in 20-30 days at half utility. 

In reply to by booboo

Oink1689 sheikurbootie Fri, 05/25/2018 - 04:04 Permalink

The misperception that the Powerwall warranty is 5000 cycles comes from an egregious distortion.  Do not assume that if the warranty is 10 years then ergo facto it will give 5000 cycles TO ITS RATED CAPACITY.  THIS IS NOT TRUE. After 500 -1000 cycles the actual capacity of a lithium cell will be 80% of its rated capacity.  After 5000 cycles it will indeed "cycle" ie you will be able to charge and discharge it BUT YOU WILL ONLY GET A SMALL FRACTION OF ITS RATED CAPACITY!!!!

Nowhere in the warranty does it specify 5000 cycles to a specified capacity.  THIS IS UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE.

My car tyres are guaranteed for 2 years - does this mean the warrany will cover 1000 miles a day times 720 days????  I DONT THINK SO

Get a lawyer to explain the legal concept of "fair wear and tear" to you and then note the following phrase from the Powerwall warranty...

"this Limited Warranty does not cover (a) normal degradation of your Powerwall’s energy capacity over time;"

.. and consider in conjuction with the delightful "mandatory arbitration provision and waiver of your right to request a jury trial or make a claim through a class action." provisions from the same document.

read it and weep ...




In reply to by sheikurbootie

not dead yet sheikurbootie Mon, 05/21/2018 - 01:13 Permalink

Musk didn't invent a rocket either. It was the government with your tax money that perfected rockets which created an industry to supply engines, parts, and technology. Odds are most of Space X's people got their training working for the government. Whoopee they landed a rocket. At the same time the Muskinater's people were landing rockets on barges on the water Blue Origin, funded by Mr Amazon Jeff Bezos, was landing them on LAND near where they launched. The Russians first landed rockets in 2014 long before your "hero".

Musk is an investor not an inventor. He spouts bullshit like mars trips and Hyperloops and is considered a genius. The idea for the hyperloop has been around for over 50 years. Name one thing Musk himself has done other than fuck up a car company that could be profitable if he wasn't in such a hurry to build an empire to prove his genius that he built it on quicksand. Musk is a sorry excuse for a CEO and I'll bet the management in all of his companies dread when he shows up as he's going to fuck up whatever he touches. It's obvious except for the true believers that Musk was made CEO because of his cult following and ability to bullshit and being the largest investor. If he really was a hands on CEO he would not be able to run 3 companies. 

Tesla is considered a tech company that makes cars by the deluded and the faithful. Name one ground breaking thing Tesla has done. Batteries? Old hat and Tesla's battery tech is all Panasonic. Panasonic set up the battery factory and even poured their own money into the venture. Plus there lots of battery manufacturers on the planet and more on the way. Same with solar panels and powerwalls. Whoopee a solar roof. Without government money, and power companies forced to buy the power at top dollar, home solar is a niche market with limited prospects. Tesla got their self drive tech from Mobile Eye which backed out awhile back claiming they didn't like how Tesla was bastardizing their tech. All the recent Tesla self driving failures, dead people, prove they made a good decision by backing out. Cadillac is offering hands off interstate self driving plus lots of competitors in the self drive arena. People who have tested Tesla self driving in all types of driving, like the Tesla lovers at Motor Trend, won't self drive except on the interstate as the system is unreliable otherwise.

In reply to by sheikurbootie

not dead yet not dead yet Mon, 05/21/2018 - 01:34 Permalink

People think patents are only given for ground breaking and game changing stuff. Lots of patents are given for mundane and insignificant stuff. They can also patent processes and ideas. Lots of patent trolls out there today that patent an idea and sue when someone actually invents the thing. Musk made a big deal of releasing all of Tesla's patents , as he claims, to further the electric car industry. Another publicity stunt by Musk. If these patents really were important his board would not have allowed it as they would be missing out on huge bucks, which Tesla has always needed, by licensing them and collecting royalties.

In reply to by not dead yet

Richard Whitney sheikurbootie Mon, 05/21/2018 - 15:54 Permalink

No. No. No. NOT a visionary. A visionary is someone who has extraordinary foresight. Musk is extraordinarily myopic.

He didn't foresee any of the production problems Tesla has experienced. The latest was the automation gambit. That was a completely self-inflicted wound. How did he not foresee that? Every experienced automotive executive predicted that would fail, and Musk has proven them correct.

His solution, to add a third shift, is outright blind. A third shift is a management and QA nightmare. You are hiring from the labor pool that you have already dipped into for shifts one and two. Their output, such as it is, is overstated because shift one is spending time correcting their mistakes. And a third shift lowers margins even further. Quality and margin deterioration are just what Tesla doesn't need.

Musk answers questions so as to imply that he founded Tesla. He didn't. What he did see was that there would be a tsunami of government money washing Tesla's way, and he has found out how to skim it. That is the only vision of the future Musk has had. 

Otherwise, NOT a visionary.

In reply to by sheikurbootie

roddy6667 Mon, 05/21/2018 - 00:24 Permalink

Steve Jobs did not cure cancer or end world hunger or stop wars. His company makes a handheld gadget that is similar to many other in the world. If every Apple product in the world disappeared overnight, the world would not change. It's a gadget. At least Gates sells a products that most of the business world uses 24/7.