Steve Jobs Spent Final Birthday With Rupert Murdoch
Many people thought of Steve Jobs as a Liberal, and I can’t say that I’d blame them. Al Gore is on his board of directors, he had offered to help Barack Obama create a campaign ad, and he was into all sorts of “hippie” stuff in his free time. He even professed a love for the New York Times. So imagine my surprise when I found out he was good friends with Rupert Murdoch. How good of friends? He joked that he would hide the knives in his house to protect Murdoch from his (admittedly) Liberal wife. Upon learning this, I was fascinated.
Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs details the relationships that the gifted C.E.O. had with many titans of American business; from Silicon Valley to even the publishing world, Jobs was connected. Steve was convinced that his iPad could do for news papers what the iPod had done for music, and as such, he had set about trying to convince publishers to create content for the iPad. In particular, he was very worried about the New York Times. He felt that they were declining, and that it was “important to the country” for them to figure out how to be successful in the 21st century. He went so far as to make helping the New York Times “his personal project, whether they wanted it or not”. Amazingly, the Times didn’t appreciate Jobs’s help, but do you know who did? Rupert Murdoch.
Murdoch was open to the idea of making a newspaper that caters to the “USA Today crowd” that is only available on Apple’s iPad. Many critics have panned the newspaper (called “The Daily”), but in working on that venture, Steve and Rupert formed a friendship that many would not have expected.
Admittedly, Jobs was not a fan of Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity, but he felt like their shows didn’t represent the Rupert Murdoch that he knew, and as such he ended up developing an admiration for the owner of Fox News. Steve found a kindred spirit in Rupert. They both believed each other to be men who had created and grown large companies that had managed to retain their “culture”. They lamented how companies like Sony had stumbled and failed in that regard. They also shared a desire to change the school text book industry. They saw that the future was in digitizing text books, and with Apple’s iPad, Jobs had a keen interest in seeing that happen.
I found this chapter in Steve’s biography to be very interesting, and if you read the book, I strongly suggest that you don’t skip past it. One of my favorite lines is when Jobs discusses inviting Murdoch to spend his final birthday with him. He tells of how he had to “make sure that Laurene (his wife) didn’t veto the plan”…
“It was my birthday, so she had to let me have Rupert over.” -Steve Jobs