An Open Letter from Steve Jobs to Tim Cook

Time passes quickly and the WiFi is spotty here in Trāyastriṃśaso I apologize for taking so long to check out how you’ve been doing with our company.

Of course, truth be known, Apple was already on that trajectory when I handed you the company, but props anyway.

Beyond that, though, I feel I must ask: Is that ALL you could manage with that money and talent? Seriously?

OK… Let me calm down… Deep breath… Nam Myoho Renge Kyo… Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.. That’s better.

Look, Tim, I don’t want to go all heavy on your case, but here’s what you need to do to make Apple great again:

1. Invest in new technology.

You let our cash on hand get all the way up to $245 billion??? Earning maybe 3% interest? Are you out of your mind?!?!  With those deep pockets, we should be making huge investments and acquisitions in every technology that will comprise the world of the future. You’ve let that upstart Musk make us look like IBM. That’s just plain wrong. 

2. Attack and cripple Google.

Google is our new nemesis, remember? They attacked our core business model with that Android PoC. But, Tim, c’mon… Google is weak. They can’t innovate worth beans and most of their revenue still comes from online ads, which are only valuable because they constantly violate user privacy. You could cut their revenues in half if you added a defaul 100% secure Internet search app to iOS and Mac OS. Spend a few billion and make it faster and better than Google’s ad-laden wide-open nightmare. This isn’t brain surgery.

3. Make the iPad into a PC killer.

WTF? The iPad was supposed to be our big revenge on Microsoft for almost putting us out of business. All it needed was a mouse and could have killed–killed!–laptop sales. Sure, it would have cut into MacBook sales, but that’s the way our industry works. I let the Macintosh kill the Lisa, remember? And the Lisa was my personal pet project. The iPad could have been the next PC… and it still might not be too late.  

4. Give our engineers private offices.

I get it, Tim. You’re not a programmer. You built your career in high tech but it was always in sales and marketing, which are the parts of the business where a lot of talking and socializing make sense. But if you’d ever designed a product, or actually written code, you’d know engineering requires concentration without distractions. Programmers and designers don’t belong in an open plan office. Give them back their private offices before it’s too late.

5. Don’t announce trivial dreck.

A credit card? Seriously? Airbuds with ear-clips? A me-too news service? Is that best you can do? And what was with Oprah And Spielberg at the event? Hey, the year 2007 called and wants its celebrities back. Look, when you gin up the press and the public up for a huge announcement and it’s just meh tweaks to existing products or me-too stuff, it makes us look lame and out of touch. If we don’t have anything world-shaking, don’t have an announcement!

6. Stop pretending we’re cutting edge.

There was a time–I remember it well–when people would line up for hours just to be the first to get our innovative new products. Heck, we even had “evangelists” who promoted our products to our true-believers. But that’s history. Until we come out insanely great new products that inspire that kind of loyalty, dial down the fake enthusiasm. 

7. Make Macs faster, better, cheaper–more quickly.

I’m honestly embarrassed what you’ve done with the Mac. You’ve not released a new design in years. Sure, MacBooks were cool back in the day, but now they’re just average. And where’s our answer to the Surface? Tim, you actually let Microsoft–Microsoft again!–pace us with a mobile product. That’s freakin’ pitiful.

8. Diversify our supply chain out of Asia.

Tim, Tim, Tim…  I love Asia, but you’ve bet our entire company on the belief that there will never be another war (shooting or trade) there. Meanwhile, China has become more aggressive and there’s a madman with nuclear weapons perched a few miles from our main supplier for iPhone parts. Wake up! We need to sourcing our parts in geographical areas where war is less likely.

9. Fix our software, already.

This was the one that surprised me the most. I knew that iTunes, iBooks, Music, and AppStore was a crazyquilt but I figured we could fix that in a future release. But here we are, ten years later, and we’re still asking people to suffer through this counter-intuitive bullsh*t? And what’s with the recent instability with our operating systems? And that wack Facetime security hole? 

10. Make some key management changes.

Delete your account.

Beatifically,

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos Each Wrote Exactly 93 Words About Their Divorce. Here's a Truly Stunning Theory About Why They Did It

Jeff and MacKenzie announced the terms of their divorce on Twitter this week in two simultaneous statements. When I wrote about it yesterday, I now think I may have missed something intriguing.

First, the background. It’s fascinating and admirable that the Bezoses worked through their agreement so quickly:

  • MacKenzie keeps 25 percent of their Amazon stock (which works out to something like $35 billion). 
  • Jeff keeps the remaining 75 percent of the Amazon stock, plus the voting power of MacKenzie’s shares, plus their interests in The Washington Post and Blue Origin.

When I wrote yesterday, I pointed out three things that I found unusual — but endearing — in the statements:

  1. They posted the statements almost simultaneously. 
  2. They used the same word, “grateful” twice each, which set the tone of the whole thing in a very positive way.
  3. They each wrote the exact same length: 93 words.

That last detail caught me. Why would they write 93 words each. Could it possibly be a coincidence? Hmmm. 

93 words

I’d only noticed this because I had to retype the statements into a text document. Being a word nerd, I also noticed that MacKenzie Bezos’s statement (embedded at the end of this article) doesn’t include many first person pronouns. 

For example, she writes: “Grateful to have finished the process of dissolving my marriage with Jeff…” instead of “I’m grateful to have finished….”

Actually every sentence is like that. 

I know people sometimes skip first person pronouns, and Twitter is informal, etc. But if she had included all the “I am” clauses, the statements would be uneven. She’d have more than 93 words.

Okay, this was really weird. I didn’t want to be known as a “Bezos Divorce Tweet Truther.” But was there something going on here? Did they agree on 93 words exactly?

And if so, why that number?

September 4, 1993

Then, a reader emailed me with an observation: “the obvious symbolism of the 93 words is they were married in ’93.”

Oh wow. The reader, who didn’t want to be identified, is right at least about the date. The Bezoses were married on September 4, 1993.

I haven’t heard back. I tried [email protected] as well, because why not? But it bounced back.

So I can’t confirm this “93-words-for-1993” theory, obviously. All I can do is put these intriguing facts in front of you, and share what I think of them.

My response is that if it’s true, it’s poignant and beautiful. The writer in me likes to think it’s a communication in a shared voice, going beyond the text itself.

It leaves me thinking about what was, what might have been, and what their relationship will be going forward.

Suspend your disbelief

Suspend your disbelief for just a second. Accept that it’s probably just a coincidence but then allow yourself to imagine what it means if it wasn’t.

Imagine if during the chaos of what could have been one of the most contentious and costliest divorces in history, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos quickly reached an agreement — not just on the big things, but on the little things, down to the length of their joint statement.

Suspend that disbelief just a bit longer, and ask yourself if it’s possible they chose 93 words for this special, sentimental reason.

Put that with their repeated symmetrical use of the word, “grateful,” and of the repeated phrases in each statement: “friends and co-parents,” and “co-parents an friends.”

Add to it how they both agreed with the language in MacKenzie’s post, where she says she’s “[h]appy to be giving Jeff all of my interests in The Washington Post and Blue Origin and 75% of our Amazon stock.”

Emphasis added there, since this phrasing is instead of Jeff saying he’s giving something to MacKenie, or them both saying they were splitting the assets. It’s MacKenzie giving what she owns to Jeff. That’s powerful.

I’m impressed. I’m a filled with a bit of awe. And, I find myself offering them both condolences and congratulations on the whole situation.