Bill Gates says he was never in Steve Jobs' league

Technically Incorrect: In the new book "Becoming Steve Jobs," the Microsoft co-founder marvels at Jobs' ability to excite a crowd about technology.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Bill Gates, admirer of the Steve Jobs show. Bloomberg/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I'm a little confused as to how Apple isn't happy with Walter Isaacson's -- authorized -- biography of Steve Jobs and is instead putting its deep faith behind a new work, "Becoming Steve Jobs," written by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli.

But I'm used to confusion.

I'm less used to those at the very peak of tech offering unabashed admiration for each other. In recent years, though, Bill Gates has revealed more and more of his respect for Steve Jobs.

Three years ago, Gates admitted that Jobs understood design and brand far better than he did. In "Becoming Steve Jobs," however, the Microsoft co-founder says he admired how Jobs presented every new Apple creation.

As Venture Beat reports, Gates said in the book: "I was never in his [Jobs'] league."

He went on to explain that it was Jobs' preparation -- and his turning that preparation into perfect performance -- that astounded him.

Gates said: "I mean, his whole thing of knowing exactly what he's going to say, but up on stage saying it in such a way that he is trying to make you think he's thinking it up right then."

It's called acting, Bill.

Gates spoke of how very single detail of each presentation was precisely choreographed, of how Jobs would become angry if any one of his underlings committed a faux pas. Once the show started, though, the fanpersons in the audience stared goggle-eyed (and un-Google Glassed, of course).

Would Microsoft have been different if Gates had been a wonderful salesman? Would he have made more people fall in love with his company, rather than feel, as some did, that they were enslaved by its tentacles?

If he had been a great presenter, someone who knew how to touch people at the emotional level, would Gates have created vastly different products, as much geared to enthrall as to be productive? It's a tantalizing thought.

The book, though, doesn't dwell merely on Gates' admiration of Jobs. Gates also offers the changeable, volatile Jobs, the one who seemed overconfident one moment and full of doubt the next. In the real world, we call that "human."

Still, no book, whether authorized or even superauthorized will ultimately capture the full truth. Books have to create a narrative order.

Human lives, however, are chaotic, self-contradictory and open to the vicissitudes of fate. No work of art can ultimately describe all of that as it really happened.

We are all, to some extent, a closed book.

Watch this: Bill Gates feeds his own blood to insects, for science!, Ep. 158