When Steve Jobs passed away more than five years ago, the entire world of technology and innovation mourned his loss. After all, very few people were epitomes of creativity, ingenuity, and passion like he was. He left a void in the industry, which was thought to be hard to fill. It is, but natural to wonder – “Who’s going to be next Steve Jobs?” If you ask the immensely loyal people at Apple, they will say that Steve Jobs is irreplaceable. “There can never, ever be another Steve Jobs.” But obviously! This is Apple that we’re talking about.
But what about the greater tech world? Has innovation died with Steve Jobs? Truth is, we are all bound by the laws of evolution. Someone will rise to fill the void left by the great visionary that was Mr. Jobs. It’s increasingly clear that the tech world is in a race to coronate his true successor as the world’s most important, and exciting, entrepreneur is no longer alive. Is it Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Sunder Pichai, Larry Page or even Tim Cook? It may be Elon Musk.
Let’s take a glimpse at the life of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk –
Jobs joined creative classes at Reed College for six months before dropping out, traveled to India, and ate meals at the Hare Krishna temple in his quest to be spiritual.
Musk spent two ýears at Queens University, Ontario before transferring to University of Pennsylvania with bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Business. He dropped out of Stanford Business School.
Work and Companies
Jobs worked as a game designer with Atari and interned with HP at age 13. He founded Apple Computers in his garage followed by NeXt. Apple’s market cap is evaluated at $523 billion.
Musk started his career with Zip2 and tried to open a video arcade near his high school at 16. He founded the Zip2 Corporation, X.com/PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, SolarCity. Tesla market cap is evaluated at $25 billion.
Products of Fame
After revolutionary products like iPod, iPhone, iPad by Apple Inc., the second major breakthrough Steve Jobs came across was the start of Graphics Group, now known as Pixar Animation Studios. Jobs can be termed as a perfectionist, especially when it came down to Apple. He wanted to make sure the product was perfect in size, function, and appearance.
After Space X, Musk carried on his entrepreneurial vision with electric cars at Tesla Motors. In 2008, Musk became the CEO and the product architect at Tesla Motors. His first project with the company was Tesla Roadster. Elon Musk has a different vision, one that goes out of this planet. While Jobs wanted to make things great and perfect, Musk has a vision for bigger and better. He wants to explore the galaxy and set up establishments on Mars, for a start.
But evidently, the sheen is just not there in Apple anymore. We still buy iPads and iPhones (in droves), but we sadly don’t witness that charming nostalgia: people jumping up and down, running in a zig-zag down Market Street waving Apple devices like hipster monkeys. Instead we quietly upgrade – the screen’s a little better, the camera has a few more megapixels, and there’s a new fingerprint sensor.
Meantime, Elon Musk seems hell-bent on re-engineering Planet Earth. Buying a Tesla is no longer the same as buying just any old car (BMW 3-series?): It’s the equivalent of buying an iPhone in 2007/2008… it ignites envy, lust, and ensures that everyone within your new-found magical bubble can’t help but feel the afterglow, for better or worse.
What’s one basic similarity between Elon Musk and Steve Jobs? They both obviously mastered the art of the splashy product reveal. Under Jobs, events launching new Apple products were a circus of frenzied expectation. The unveiling of Tesla’s new, lower cost Model 3 was called “bigger than Star Wars by Inc.com. It was Musk’s insistence on making ‘an electric car without compromises’ that ultimately led to 276,000 people reserving a Model 3, many without even seeing the car: after all, it’s a Tesla. Like a Samsung is just a phone, an iPhone is an iPhone!
Although Tesla’s products lack the mainstream appeal of Apple’s, they inspire a similar, cult-like devotion among users. Maybe that’s because Musk is exhibiting a Steve Jobs-like obsession with the beauty and quality of them. Aesthetically, Musk’s introductions for his products are quite different. He exhibits an extraordinary level of conädence in them. Like Jobs, he exudes an intimate familiarity that suggests he is heavily involved in their design and creation, as well as immense pride.
In recent months, Apple has hired a number of engineers with backgrounds in automotive and battery design, including a senior engineer from Tesla, according to a LinkedIn posting. When asked about Apple poaching Tesla’s ‘most important’ engineers, Musk said, ‘They have hired people we’ve fired. We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla Graveyard.’ If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding.”
Remember Jobs’ commentary on Microsoft! From “The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste” to “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”
“Mr. Jobs has nothing on Elon. Elon is Wernher von Braun , Howard Hughes , Henry Ford , Bill Gates , Steve Jobs, and every other badass, all rolled into one”, says Dolly Singh, Former Head of Talent Acquisiton at SpaceX.
Steve Jobs was a revolutionist, perfectionist, and a visionary, a man who wanted to change the definition of technology and the way humans think. He brought forward innovative ideas that helped humanity set new benchmarks for itself. Comparisons are inevitable but the two men are arguably among the greatest this world has ever welcomed. While their life situations contrast sharply, they both have left a legacy for generations to come.
Still, it remains to be seen whether Musk can ever scale the corporate heights Jobs did. However, there is no denying that his impact on the planet might end up being even more profound. He could help transform energy storage and commercialize space exploration. He talks, with a straight face, about colonizing Mars and saving the human race. If he achieves even half of that, he won’t just be the next Steve Jobs. He will be on his own level of greatness.
‘I think Steve Jobs is way cooler than I am’, said Elon Musk in a interview. I guess he meant, he is way hotter than Jobs.
Jobs affected the world profoundly. His vision, creativity and flair for the unexpected has inspired many CEOs and entrepreneurs. However, Musk is, in his own way, writing his own history. You can look through more of the genius Musk is, here.