As I’ve written, I hugely admired the man, and he has done so much practical good for us all. Yet as with many world-changing geniuses, there was a dark side. From a CNN report about his spiritual life (Jobs was a convert to Zen Buddhism):
Karma is another principle of the religion, but it didn’t appear to be a system Jobs lived by. If he feared karma coming back to bite him, the sentiment wasn’t evident in his public statements about competitors and former colleagues, calling them “bozos” lacking taste. Those who worked for Jobs described him as a tyrant they feared meeting in an elevator.
“You’d be surprised how hard people work around here,” Jobs said in a 2004 interview with Businessweek. “They work nights and weekends, sometimes not seeing their families for a while. Sometimes people work through Christmas to make sure the tooling is just right at some factory in some corner of the world so our product comes out the best it can be.”
Some engineers who worked tirelessly on the original Mac emerged from the project estranged from their spouses and children. Jobs’ relentless work ethic may have been shaped by some of his dysfunctional family affairs as well.
Others have pointed out that Apple depends on Chinese manufacturers that treat their workers deplorably. Any honest assessment of Jobs’ legacy, and the fruits of his relentless perfectionism, must take these facts into account.