18 valuable pieces of advice from the best graduation speeches of all time

issa rae
Issa Rae.

“Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer.” – Shonda Rhimes’ 2014 speech at Dartmouth College

shonda rhimes dartmouth
Shonda Rhimes at Dartmouth College.

The world’s most powerful showrunner told grads to stop dreaming and start doing.

The world has plenty of dreamers, she said. “And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing.” She pushed grads to be those people.

“Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer,” she advised — whether or not you know what your “passion” might be. “The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real,” she said.

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Empathy and kindness are the true signs of emotional intelligence.” – Will Ferrell’s 2017 speech at the University of Southern California

will ferrell usc
Will Ferrell at the University of Southern California.

Comedian Will Ferrell, best known for lead roles in films like “Anchorman,” “Elf,” and “Talledega Nights,” delivered a thoughtful speech to USC’s graduating class of 2018.

“No matter how cliché it may sound, you will never truly be successful until you learn to give beyond yourself,” he said. “Empathy and kindness are the true signs of emotional intelligence, and that’s what Viv and I try to teach our boys. Hey Matthias, get your hands of Axel right now! Stop it. I can see you. Okay? Dr. Ferrell’s watching you.”

He also offered some words of encouragement: “For many of you who maybe don’t have it all figured out, it’s okay. That’s the same chair that I sat in. Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result.”

He even finished off with a stirring rendition of the Whitney Houston classic, “I Will Always Love You.” He was, of course, referring to the graduates.

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“As you leave this room don’t forget to ask yourself what you can offer to make the ‘club of life’ go up? How can you make this place better, in spite of your circumstances?” – Issa Rae’s 2021 speech at Stanford University

Insecure HBO Issa Rae
Issa Rae in HBO’s “Insecure.”

In the speech, Rae pulled lyrics from Boosie Badazz, Foxx, and Webbie’s “Wipe Me Down,” which she said she and her friends played on a boombox during the “Wacky Walk” portion of their own 2007 graduation ceremony at Stanford, to illustrate the importance of seeing “every opportunity as a VIP — as someone who belongs and deserves to be here.” 

Rae particularly drew attention to one line from the song that reads, “I pull up at the club, VIP, gas tank on E, but all dranks on me. Wipe me down.”

“To honor the classic song that has guided my own life — as you leave this room, don’t forget to ask yourself what you can offer to make the ‘club of life’ go up. How can you make this place better, in spite of your circumstances?” she said. “And as you figure those things out, don’t forget to step back and wipe yourselves down, wipe each other down and go claim what’s yours like the VIPs that you are.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Not everything that happens to us happens because of us.” – Sheryl Sandberg’s 2016 speech at UC Berkeley

sheryl sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg speaks during a forum in San Francisco.

During the Facebook COO’s deeply personal commencement speech about resilience at UC Berkeley, she spoke on how understanding the three Ps that largely determine our ability to deal with setbacks helped her cope with the loss of her husband, Dave Goldberg.

She outlined the three Ps as:

· Personalization: Whether you believe an event is your fault.
· Pervasiveness: Whether you believe an event will affect all areas of your life.
· Permanence: How long you think the negative feelings will last.

“This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us,” Sandberg said about personalization. It took understanding this for Sandberg to accept that she couldn’t have prevented her husband’s death. “His doctors had not identified his coronary artery disease. I was an economics major; how could I have?”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“If you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options.” – David Foster Wallace’s 2005 speech at Kenyon College

David Foster Wallace
David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College.

In his now-legendary “This Is Water” speech, the author urged grads to be a little less arrogant and a little less certain about their beliefs.

“This is not a matter of virtue,” Wallace said. “It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting, which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.”

Doing that will be hard, he said. “It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat won’t want to.”

But breaking free of that lens can allow you to truly experience life, to consider possibilities beyond your default reactions.

“If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable,” he said. “But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron’s 1996 speech at Wellesley College

nora ephron
Nora Ephron.

Addressing her fellow alums with trademark wit, Ephron reflected on all the things that had changed since her days at Wellesley — and all the things that hadn’t.

“My class went to college in the era when you got a master’s degrees in teaching because it was ‘something to fall back on’ in the worst case scenario, the worst case scenario being that no one married you and you actually had to go to work,” she said. But while things had changed drastically by 1996, Ephron warned grads not to “delude yourself that the powerful cultural values that wrecked the lives of so many of my classmates have vanished from the earth.” 

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim,” she said. “Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Our problems are manmade – therefore, they can be solved by man.” – John F. Kennedy’s 1963 speech at American University

john f kennedy speech
John F. Kennedy at American University.

Against the tumult of the early ’60s, Kennedy inspired graduates to strive for what may be the biggest goal of them all: world peace.

“Too many of us think it is impossible,” he said. “Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable — that mankind is doomed — that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.”

Our job is not to accept that, he urged. “Our problems are manmade — therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants.” 

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Err in the direction of kindness.” – George Saunders’ 2013 speech at Syracuse University

George Saunders
George Saunders.

Saunders stressed what turns out to be a deceptively simple idea: the importance of kindness. “What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness,” he said. “Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded … sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.” 

But kindness is hard, the writer said. It’s not necessarily our default. In part, he explained, kindness comes with age. “It might be a simple matter of attrition: as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish — how illogical, really.” The challenge he laid out: Don’t wait. “Speed it along,” he urged. “Start right now.”

“There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness,” Saunders said. “But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf — seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.”

“Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.” – Stephen Colbert’s 2011 speech at Northwestern University

Stephen colbert
Stephen Colbert.

The comedian and host of the “Late Show” told grads they should never feel like they have it all figured out.

“[W]hatever your dream is right now, if you don’t achieve it, you haven’t failed, and you’re not some loser. But just as importantly — and this is the part I may not get right and you may not listen to — if you do get your dream, you are not a winner,” Colbert said.

It’s a lesson he learned from his improv days. When actors are working together properly, he explained, they’re all serving each other, playing off each other on a common idea. “And life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along. And like improv, you cannot win your life,” he said.

Red the transcript and watch the video.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.” – Steve Jobs’ 2005 speech at Stanford University

Steve Jobs Commencement HD
Steve Jobs at Stanford University.

In a remarkably personal address, the Apple founder and CEO advised graduates to live each day as if it were their last.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life,” he said. He’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year earlier.

“Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important,” he continued. “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Jobs said this mindset will make you understand the importance of your work. “And the only way to do great work is to love what you do,” he said. “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Settling means giving in to someone else’s vision of your life — a temptation Jobs warned against. “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“We can learn to live without the sick excitement, without the kick of having scores to settle.” – Kurt Vonnegut’s 1999 speech at Agnes Scott College

Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut at Agnes Scott College.

The famed author became one of the most sought-after commencement speakers in the United States for many years, thanks to his insights on morality and cooperation. At Agnes Scott, he asked graduates to make the world a better place by respecting humanity — and living without hate. Hammurabi lived 4,000 years ago, he pointed out. We can stop living by his code.

“We may never dissuade leaders of our nation or any other nation from responding vengefully, violently, to every insult or injury. In this, the Age of Television, they will continue to find irresistible the temptation to become entertainers, to compete with movies by blowing up bridges and police stations and factories and so on,” he said.

“But in our personal lives, our inner lives, at least, we can learn to live without the sick excitement, without the kick of having scores to settle with this particular person, or that bunch of people, or that particular institution or race or nation. And we can then reasonably ask forgiveness for our trespasses, since we forgive those who trespass against us.”

The result, he said, would be a happier, more peaceful, and more complete existence.

Read the partial transcript and watch the video.

“If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.” – Oprah Winfrey’s 2008 speech at Stanford University

oprah commencement
Oprah Winfrey at Stanford University.

The media mogul told Stanford’s class of 2008 that they can’t sacrifice happiness for money. “When you’re doing the work you’re meant to do, it feels right and every day is a bonus, regardless of what you’re getting paid,” she said.

She said you can feel when you’re doing the right thing in your gut. “What I know now is that feelings are really your GPS system for life. When you’re supposed to do something or not supposed to do something, your emotional guidance system lets you know,” she said.

She explained that doing what your instincts tells you to do will make you more successful because it will drive you to work harder and will save you from debilitating stress.

“If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. That’s the lesson. And that lesson alone will save you, my friends, a lot of grief,” Winfrey said. “Even doubt means don’t. This is what I’ve learned. There are many times when you don’t know what to do. When you don’t know what to do, get still, get very still, until you do know what to do.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“The difference between triumph and defeat, you’ll find, isn’t about willingness to take risks – it’s about mastery of rescue.” – Atul Gawande’s 2012 speech at Williams College

Atul Gawande
Atul Gawande.

Pushing beyond the tired “take risks!” commencement cliché, the surgeon, writer, and activist took a more nuanced approach: what matters isn’t just that you take risks; it’s how you take them.

To explain, he turned to medicine.”Scientists have given a new name to the deaths that occur in surgery after something goes wrong — whether it is an infection or some bizarre twist of the stomach,” said Gawande. “They call them a ‘Failure to Rescue.’ More than anything, this is what distinguished the great from the mediocre. They didn’t fail less. They rescued more.”

What matters, he said, isn’t the failure — that’s inevitable — but what happens next. “A failure often does not have to be a failure at all. However, you have to be ready for it. Will you admit when things go wrong? Will you take steps to set them right? — because the difference between triumph and defeat, you’ll find, isn’t about willingness to take risks. It’s about mastery of rescue.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Your job is to create a world that lasts forever.” – Stephen Spielberg’s 2016 speech at Harvard

Steven Spielberg Harvard commencement
Steven Spielberg at Harvard.

“This world is full of monsters,” director Steven Spielberg told Harvard graduates, and it’s the next generation’s job to vanquish them.

“My job is to create a world that lasts two hours. Your job is to create a world that lasts forever,” he said.

These monsters manifest themselves as racism, homophobia, and ethnic, class, political, and religious hatred, he said, noting that there is no difference between them: “It is all one big hate.”

Spielberg said that hate is born of an “us versus them” mentality, and thinking instead about people as “we” requires replacing fear with curiosity.

“‘Us’ and ‘them’ will find the ‘we’ by connecting with each other, and by believing that we’re members of the same tribe, and by feeling empathy for every soul,” he said.

Read the transcript and watch the video. 

“There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized.” – Conan O’Brien’s 2011 speech at Dartmouth College

conan o'brien dartmouth
Conan O’Brien at Dartmouth College.

In his hilarious 2011 address to Dartmouth College, the late-night host spoke about his brief run on “The Tonight Show” before being replaced by Jay Leno. O’Brien described the fallout as the lowest point in his life, feeling very publicly humiliated and defeated. But once he got back on his feet and went on a comedy tour across the country, he discovered something important.

“There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized,” he said.

He explained that for decades the ultimate goal of every comedian was to host “The Tonight Show,” and like many comedians, he thought achieving that goal would define his success. “But that is not true. No specific job or career goal defines me, and it should not define you,” he said.

He noted that disappointment is a part of life, and the beauty of it is that it can help you gain clarity and conviction.

“It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique,” O’Brien said. “It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can be a catalyst for profound re-invention.”

 O’Brien said that dreams constantly evolve, and your ideal career path at 22 years old will not necessarily be the same at 32 or 42 years old. 

“I am here to tell you that whatever you think your dream is now, it will probably change. And that’s okay,” he said.

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“You are your own stories.” – Toni Morrison’s 2004 speech at Wellesley College

Toni Morrison Graduation Wellesley
Toni Morrison at Wellesley College.

Instead of the usual commencement platitudes — none of which, Morrison argued, are true anyway — the Nobel Prize-winning writer asked grads to create their own narratives. 

“What is now known is not all what you are capable of knowing,” she said. “You are your own stories and therefore free to imagine and experience what it means to be human without wealth. What it feels like to be human without domination over others, without reckless arrogance, without fear of others unlike you, without rotating, rehearsing and reinventing the hatreds you learned in the sandbox.”

In your own story, you can’t control all the characters, Morrison said. “The theme you choose may change or simply elude you. But being your own story means you can always choose the tone. It also means that you can invent the language to say who you are and what you mean.” Being a storyteller reflects a deep optimism, she said — and as a storyteller herself, “I see your life as already artful, waiting, just waiting and ready for you to make it art.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“I wake up in a house that was built by slaves.” – Michelle Obama’s 2016 speech at the City College of New York

michelle obama city college
Michelle Obama at the City College of New York.

In her 23rd and final commencement speech as First Lady, Michelle Obama urged the Class of 2016 to pursue happiness and live out whatever version of the American Dream is right for them.

“It’s the story that I witness every single day when I wake up in a house that was built by slaves,” she said, “and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, black young women — head off to school waving goodbye to their father, the President of the United States, the son of a man from Kenya who came here to America for the same reasons as many of you: To get an education and improve his prospects in life.”

“So, graduates, while I think it’s fair to say that our Founding Fathers never could have imagined this day,” she continued, “all of you are very much the fruits of their vision. Their legacy is very much your legacy and your inheritance. And don’t let anybody tell you differently. You are the living, breathing proof that the American Dream endures in our time. It’s you.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Call upon your grit. Try something.” – Tim Cook’s 2019 speech at Tulane University

Tim cook tulane
Tim Cook at Tulane University.

Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered the 2019 commencement speech for the graduates of Tulane University, offering valuable advice on success.

“We forget sometimes that our preexisting beliefs have their own force of gravity,” Cook said. “Today, certain algorithms pull toward you the things you already know, believe, or like, and they push away everything else. Push back.”

“You may succeed. You may fail. But make it your life’s work to remake the world because there is nothing more beautiful or more worthwhile than working to leave something better for humanity.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Apple CEO Tim Cook says he doesn’t expect to be running the company a decade from now

Tim Cook Apple Park speech
Apple CEO Tim Cook in January.

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook has been running the company for just shy of 10 years.
  • In another 10 years, though, Cook expects to have stepped down from his role.
  • In a new interview, Cook said he didn’t know what’s next after Apple.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Tim Cook became the CEO of Apple just shy of 10 years ago, following the death of cofounder Steve Jobs.

And in another 10 years, Cook doesn’t expect to still be at the company, he said in a new interview with The New York Times.

“Ten more years? Probably not,” Cook said. “I can tell you that I feel great right now. And the date’s not in sight. But 10 more years is a long time, and probably not 10 more years.”

Cook has been with Apple for over 20 years. He joined in the late ’90s and helped it to rethink operations. When Jobs died in 2011, Cook took over executive duties and became the new face of the company.

Since then, Cook has unveiled new iPhones, Apple Watches, and other products.

tim cook jony ive iphones
Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, and Cook inspect the iPhone XR during an event on September 12, 2018, in Cupertino, California.

He oversaw Apple’s incredible rise in value: Its market cap is just over $2 trillion. He’s also taken on the role of government liaison and appeared multiple times with President Donald Trump.

As for what he’ll do after Apple, Cook appeared to be just as in the dark as everyone else.

“I don’t have a clue,” he said in the Times interview, “because I love this company so much that it’s hard to imagine my life without it.”

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a nonwork device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A history of the decades-long feud between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, whose love-hate relationship spurred the success of Microsoft and Apple

Steve Jobs Bill Gates
Steve Jobs, left, and Bill Gates.

  • Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Apple’s Steve Jobs never quite saw eye-to-eye.
  • While the two founders had periods of civility, at other times, they were at each other’s throats.
  • Jobs insulted Gates’ taste, while Gates described Jobs as “weirdly flawed as a human being.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs never quite got along.

Over the course of 30-plus years, the two went from cautious allies to bitter rivals to something almost approaching friends – sometimes, they were all three at the same time.

It seems unlikely that Apple would be where it is today without Microsoft, or Microsoft without Apple.

Here’s the history of the love-hate relationship between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs weren’t always enemies – Microsoft made software early on for the mega-popular Apple II PC, and Gates would routinely fly down to Cupertino to see what Apple was working on.

Steve Woz Apple II
The Apple II computer.

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

In the early ’80s, Jobs flew up to Washington to sell Gates on the possibility of making Microsoft software for the Apple Macintosh computer, with its revolutionary graphical user interface. Gates wasn’t particularly impressed with what he saw as a limited platform – or Jobs’ attitude.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs, chairman of the board of Apple Computer, leaning on the new Macintosh personal computer following a shareholder’s meeting in Cupertino, California.

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

“It was kind of a weird seduction visit where Steve was saying we don’t really need you and we’re doing this great thing, and it’s under the cover. He’s in his Steve Jobs sales mode, but kind of the sales mode that also says, ‘I don’t need you, but I might let you be involved,'” Gates later said.

bill gates
Bill Gates in New Delhi in 2008.

Source: Fortune

Still, Gates appeared alongside Jobs in a 1983 video – a “Dating Game” riff – screened for Apple employees ahead of the Macintosh’s launch. In that video, Gates compliments the Mac, saying that it “really captures people’s imagination.”

bill gates 1983 mac launch event

Source: Business Insider

Microsoft and Apple worked hand-in-hand for the first few years of the Macintosh. At one point, Gates quipped that he had more people working on the Mac than Jobs did.

Mac computers 1984

Source: Yahoo

Their relationship, already kind of rocky, fell apart when Microsoft announced the first version of Windows in 1985. A furious Jobs accused Gates and Microsoft of ripping off the Macintosh. But Gates didn’t care – he knew that graphical interfaces would be big, and didn’t think Apple had the exclusive rights to the idea.

Bill Gates Windows 98
Bill Gates.

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Besides, Gates knew full well that Apple took the idea for the graphical interface from the Xerox PARC labs, a research institution they both admired.

xerox

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

When Jobs accused Gates of stealing the idea, he famously answered: “Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.”

bill gates 1992
Bill Gates, right, chairman and founder of Microsoft Corp., watches a video presentation prior to giving the keynote address at the annual meeting of the Washington Software Association in Seattle, Wash., Jan. 28, 1992. Looking on is Paul Grey, president of Softchec, Inc. of Kirkland, Wash.

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

From there, the gloves were off between the two founders. “They just ripped us off completely, because Gates has no shame,” Jobs once said. To which Gates replied: “If he believes that, he really has entered into one of his own reality distortion fields.”

steve jobs

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Jobs thought that Gates was a stick in the mud, far too focused on business. “He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.”

Bill Gates

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Gates said Jobs was “fundamentally odd” and “weirdly flawed as a human being.”

Steve Jobs

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

But Gates respected Jobs’ knack for design: “He really never knew much about technology, but he had an amazing instinct for what works.”

Steve Jobs

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

In 1985, Steve Jobs resigned from Apple after a power shift to start his own computer company, NeXT. But even though Jobs was no longer working for Microsoft’s biggest competitor, it didn’t improve relations between the two.

steve jobs
In this April 4, 1991, file photo, Steve Jobs of NeXT Computer Inc. poses for the press with his NeXTstation color computer at the NeXT facility in Redwood City, Calif.

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Jobs thought that if NeXT lost and Microsoft Windows won, “we are going to enter a computer Dark Ages for about 20 years,” he told Playboy in 1985.

steve jobs neXT 1990
Vittorio Cassoni, from Ing. C. Olivetti & Co., speaking with Steve Jobs at the annual PC Forum in Tucson, Arizona, in 1990.

Source: The Telegraph

Still, Windows was winning. By the late ’80s, it became clear that Microsoft was just about unstoppable on the PC.

bill gates windows

Fast-forward to 1996, when Jobs appeared in a PBS documentary called “Triumph of the Nerds” and ripped into Gates and Microsoft, saying that they made “third-rate products.”

steve jobs

Source: PBS

Jobs went on in that same documentary: “The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their products.”

Bill Gates

Source: PBS

By the late ’90s, Apple was in serious danger of going under. When then-Apple CEO Gil Amelio moved to buy NeXT in 1996 and bring Jobs back to Apple, Gates tried to talk him out of it.

amelio jobs

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Gates said this to Amelio: “I know his technology, it’s nothing but a warmed-over UNIX, and you’ll never be able to make it work on your machines. Don’t you understand that Steve doesn’t know anything about technology? He’s just a super salesman. I can’t believe you’re making such a stupid decision.”

Bill Gates
Bill Gates.

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

But by 1997, Jobs was Apple’s CEO. At his first Macworld keynote, he announced that he had accepted an investment from Microsoft to keep Apple afloat. Bill Gates appeared on a huge screen via satellite link. The audience booed.

Bill Gates

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Gates clearly admired Jobs, even if they didn’t always see eye-to-eye. When Apple introduced iTunes, Gates sent an internal email to Microsoft that said, “Steve Jobs’ ability to focus in on a few things that count, get people who get user interface right, and market things as revolutionary are amazing things.”

steve jobs imac 1998

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

When Apple introduced the iPod in 2001, Gates sent another email: “I think we need some plan to prove that, even though Jobs has us a bit flat footed again, we can move quick and both match and do stuff better.”

steve jobs

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

But Jobs was still pretty down on Microsoft, especially after Steve Ballmer took over from Bill Gates as CEO in 2000. “They’ve clearly fallen from their dominance. They’ve become mostly irrelevant,” Jobs once said. “I don’t think anything will change at Microsoft as long as Ballmer is running it.”

Steve Ballmer Bill Gates

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Conversely, Gates thought much of Apple’s post-iPhone success came from Jobs himself, and not from Apple’s “closed” philosophy. “The integrated approach works well when Steve is at the helm. But it doesn’t mean it will win many rounds in the future,” Gates said.

bill gates microsoft 2001
Bill Gates in New Delhi in 2008.

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

And Gates didn’t think too much of the iPad. “[I]t’s not like I sit there and feel the same way I did with iPhone where I say, ‘Oh my God, Microsoft didn’t aim high enough.'”

Steve Jobs using an iPad

Source: CBS MoneyWatch

But Jobs didn’t think much of the Windows ecosystem either: “Of course, his fragmented model worked, but it didn’t make really great products. It produced crappy products.”

Steve Jobs

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Jobs didn’t even have any mercy when Gates decided to quit Microsoft in 2006 to focus more on his foundation. “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology,” Jobs said.

bill gates melinda gates
Bill and Melinda Gates.

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Still, in a weird way, the two men clearly respected each other. Appearing on stage together at the 2007 AllThingsD conference, Gates said, “I’d give a lot to have Steve’s taste.”

Steve Jobs Bill Gates

Source: The Wall Street Journal

And Jobs once said, “I admire him for the company he built – it’s impressive – and I enjoyed working with him. He’s bright and actually has a good sense of humor.”

steve jobs

Source: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

After Jobs died, Gates said, “I respect Steve, we got to work together. We spurred each other on, even as competitors. None of [what he said] bothers me at all.”

bill gates

Source: Yahoo

Ultimately, both men claim quite a legacy: Jobs built Apple into what is now the world’s most valuable company, while Gates is the third-richest person on Earth.

steve jobs

Source: CNBC, Bloomberg

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Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is the latest major tech founder to step down as CEO. Here’s what others are up to now.

jeff bezos
Jeff Bezos poses with a Pikachu doll and drill in 1999.

  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is stepping down as the company’s CEO.
  • Bezos was among the few founders of major tech companies still running their “startups.”
  • Here’s what the former founder-CEOs of Google, Microsoft, and other tech giants are up to now.

Jeff Bezos started Amazon in his garage in 1994 as a way to sell books online. In 26 years as its CEO, he transformed the company into a behemoth in ecommerce, web services, logistics, robotics, groceries, AI, media, and more. 

On Tuesday, Bezos said he will step down as CEO in the third quarter of 2021, passing the reins to Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy and taking a backseat as executive chairman of Amazon’s board of directors.

Before the pandemic hit, Bezos had spent several years mostly focused on long-term projects. and said in his letter to employees Tuesday that he plans to shift that focus to “other passions” like his space startup Blue Origin, philanthropies (Day 1 Fund and Earth Fund), and The Washington Post, which he acquired in 2013.

Bezos’ plans track closely with those of other high-profile tech founders who ran, and eventually left, their own startups-turned-tech-giants to pursue pet projects and philanthropic endeavors.

He was also one of the few remaining founder-CEOs of a generation of tech companies born in the past 50 years that played major roles in bringing computers, the internet, ecommerce, and social networking to the masses. That shrinking crowd still includes Facebook CEO and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO and cofounder Jack Dorsey, and Netflix co-CEO and cofounder Reed Hastings.

But Apple, Google, Microsoft, and others have since bid farewell to the founders who had led their companies for years. Here’s what those tech icons are up to now.

Apple cofounder Steve Jobs died in 2011.

Steve Jobs
Apple cofounder Steve Jobs in 1979.

After Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple in 1976, the company had a long line of CEOs. Jobs was eventually ousted after a failed board takeover in 1985, before returning in 1996 with a successful board takeover, eventually transforming the struggling company into the $2.3 trillion giant it is today.

Jobs left Apple in early 2011 as his health deteriorated, turning over the reins to CEO Tim Cook. Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in October 2011.

Wozniak, who left Apple in 1985 but is still technically an employee and is paid $50 per week, has since started multiple companies. Most recently, he launched a cryptocurrency business that helps companies raise money for eco-friendly projects, according to CNBC.

Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates is working on global health initiatives through his philanthropy.

Bill Gates 1998
Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates in 1979.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen cofounded Microsoft in 1975, and by the time Gates stepped down as CEO in 2000, he had helped build the company into such a dominant player in the tech industry that it became the subject of one of the biggest antitrust cases ever.

Gates stayed on the company’s board until March 2020, when he said he would focus full-time on his philanthropic work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates has pledged to give away a majority of his wealth within his lifetime — though he and 75% of signatories of the “Giving Pledge” have actually become wealthier since signing on.

Gates has for years focused on global health and warned about the dangers of pandemics, and the Gates Foundation has poured $1.75 billion into coronavirus-related causes.

 

Google cofounder Larry Page is working on secretive flying-car startups.

Larry Page (L), Co-Founder and President, Products, and Sergey Brin, Co-Founder and President, Technology, at Google's campus headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Google, the popular Internet search engine company, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 29, 2004 to raise as much as $2.72 billion in its long-awaited stock market debut. They founded the company in 1998. (Photo by Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images)
Google cofounder Larry Page in 2003.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in 1998, and Page led the company until 2001, when Eric Schmidt was brought in as “adult supervision.” But Page stepped back in as CEO in 2011 and eventually became the CEO of its parent company Alphabet in 2015, working mostly on “moonshot” projects and recruiting talented people.

Page and Brin stepped down as Alphabet CEO and President in December 2019, with then-Google CEO Sundar Pichai taking over, though both remain on the board. Page has since focused mostly on his investments in flying-car startups Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk.

eBay founder Pierre Omidyar has invested in media, social impact fintech startups, and a basic income experiment.

GettyImages 799286 F 343440 11: Chairman and founder Pierre Omidyar and CEO Meg Whitman of EBay.com, the online auction service. California, June 15, 1998. (photo by James D. Wilson / Liaison Agency) ***EXCLUSIVE***
eBay founder Pierre Omidyar in 1998.

Pierre Omidyar launched Auction Web, which ultimately became eBay, in 1995. The company eventually brought in Meg Whitman as CEO in 1998, and Omidyar stayed on the company’s board until September 2020.

After leaving day-to-day operations at eBay, Omidyar — a Hawai’i resident — started a local investigative journalism outlet, the Honolulu Civil Beat, and founded First Look Media, a digital journalism company that owns The Intercept. He also launched a $300 million fund to back social impact-focused fintech startups, and has given to a range of philanthropic causes, including basic income and pandemic response.

 

AOL co-founder and CEO Steve Case got into venture capital and philanthropy.

America Online Inc chairman Steve Case talks to reporters at a Tokyo hotel April 14. In Tokyo to announce the launch of AOL's online service in Japan, Case said he expects the Japanese market to become the largest market outside of the United States of AOL's online services. Case declined to comment on market rumours of merger talks with CompuServe Corp, an affiliate of H&R Block Inc. JAPAN ONLINE
AOL co-founder Steve Case in 1997.

America Online, known to most people as AOL, was founded from the ashes of its short-lived predecessor, Control Video Corporation, by Jim Kimsey, Marc Seriff, and Steve Case.

Case ran AOL from 1991 until 2001, when the company completed its — ultimately ill-fated — merger with Time Warner, becoming chairman of the combined company until resigning that position in 2003 amid criticism from investors.

After leaving AOL’s board outright in 2005, Case launched a venture capital firm, Revolution, that has focused on funding startups outside of Silicon Valley. He has also launched a philanthropic foundation and chairs the board of the Smithsonian Institute.

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Billionaire tech mogul Larry Ellison says he and Elon Musk are ‘close friends.’ Here are 8 other tech exec friendships that have thrived in the competitive world of Silicon Valley.

Mark Zuckerberg driving car
Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, left, and Mark Zuckerberg.

  • Silicon Valley might be competitive, but it also appears to be a breeding ground for friendships among its famous execs.
  • Elon Musk is close friends with Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. 
  • Larry Ellison gave the eulogy at Steve Jobs’ funeral, and he has a love/hate relationship with Salesforce’s Marc Benioff. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Elon Musk and Larry Ellison. Jeff Bezos and Barry Diller. 

What do all these high-profile pairings have in common? They’re all close friendships within the world of tech. 

Silicon Valley may be known for its competitive spirit, but it’s also fostered several years-long friendships among some of its most famous executives. Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett, for example, have been buddies for nearly 30 years. And Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff have been friends for decades, even though their respective enterprise software companies are technically rivals.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has several close pals in tech, including friends he’s defended online or taken for Tesla test drives. 

Here’s a closer look at some of the friendships among tech CEOs. 

Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey

Elon Musk Jack Dorsey
Elon Musk, left, and Jack Dorsey.

While it’s not clear if Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey actually hang out in real life, they do seem to have a solid virtual friendship. 

As far back as 2016, Dorsey said Musk was “a really good model” for how to use Twitter. More recently, Dorsey said in an interview that Musk is his favorite Twitter follow, to which Musk responded, “Thanks Jack, Twitter rocks!”

Then, in January, Dorsey and Musk spoke over video chat in front of Twitter employees, and Musk gave Dorsey advice on how to improve the platform. 

In March, as Dorsey faced a possible ouster at the hands of an activist hedge fund, Musk publicly tweeted his support of the CEO. 

“Just want to say that I support @jack as Twitter CEO,” Musk tweeted. “He has a good <3.” 

Jeff Bezos and Barry Diller

Jeff Bezos Barry Diller
Jeff Bezos, left, and Barry Diller.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and IAC Chairman Barry Diller appear to have been friends for years. 

In January 2016, Diller correctly predicted that Bezos would become the richest person in the world.

And in the last few years, as Bezos has gone through changes in his personal life, he’s been spotted hanging out with Diller and his wife, designer Diane von Furstenberg, more often. Diller and von Furstenberg have reportedly attended multiple parties hosted by Bezos, and Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, have sailed aboard von Furstenberg’s yacht. The two couples were also reportedly spotted exploring Venice together.

Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs

Larry Ellison Steve Jobs
Larry Ellison, left, and Steve Jobs.

Oracle founder Larry Ellison and late Apple CEO Steve Jobs were friends for 25 years before Jobs’ death in 2011. 

Ellison and Jobs used to be neighbors in Woodside, California, and the pair often went hiking together. It was during one of those hikes that Ellison helped Jobs plot how to regain control of Apple after he was ousted — Ellison even suggested buying Apple himself and installing Jobs as CEO.

It was Jobs who came up with the idea that Apple should acquire his company, Next, instead. When Ellison questioned how the pair would make money, Jobs said to him, “Larry, this is why it’s so important that I’m your friend. You don’t need any more money,” Ellison said in a commencement speech in 2016. 

Ellison said he spent time with Jobs in his final days, taking shorter walks around the block with him as he became weaker. Ellison gave a eulogy at Jobs’ funeral. 

Elon Musk, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin

Sergey Brin Elon Musk Larry Page
From left: Sergey Brin, Elon Musk, and Larry Page.

Elon Musk has been friends with the cofounders of Google for a long time.

In the early days of Musk’s tenure at the electric car maker, he took Brin and Page on a test drive. Unfortunately, a software bug prevented the car from going any faster than 10 miles per hour, Musk recounted at a company shareholder meeting in 2016. Despite “the world’s worst demo,” however, the duo ended up investing in Tesla anyway, Musk said. 

Over the years, Musk and Page especially have become close friends — Musk even sometimes sleeps at Page’s house when he’s in town, and Page once said he’d rather leave his money to Musk than give it away to charity.

Brin, Page, and Musk also reportedly used to hang out in a Google-owned apartment and brainstorm ideas. 

“It’s fun for the three of us [including Google cofounder Sergey Brin] to talk about kind of crazy things, and we find stuff that eventually turns out to be real,” Page told Ashlee Vance, who wrote a 2015 biography about Musk.

Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff

Larry Ellison Marc Benioff
Larry Ellison, left, and Marc Benioff.

Ellison and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff met when Benioff began working at Oracle when he was 23. He was a star early on, earning a “rookie of the year” award that same year and becoming Oracle’s youngest VP by age 26. He spent 13 years at Oracle, during which he became a trusted lieutenant to Ellison. 

The pair became such close friends that rumors swirled about their relationship’s backstory — people wondered if they were related, or if Ellison had been Benioff’s childhood babysitter. Ellison and Benioff took trips together, sailed on Ellison’s yacht, and went on double dates

Benioff began working on Salesforce with Ellison’s blessing, and Ellison became an investor, putting in $2 million early on. 

The duo has publicly feuded over the years — including when Benioff fired Ellison from Salesforce’s board — but Benioff has also described Ellison as his mentor. 

“There is no one I’ve learned more from than Larry Ellison,” Benioff said in 2013.

Read more: Oracle employees say Safra Catz and Larry Ellison don’t talk about their Trump ties internally. After the US Capitol siege, some want action: There’s ‘blood on their hands’

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett Bill Gates
Warren Buffett, left, and Bill Gates.

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates met in 1991 when Buffett was invited over to Gates’ mother’s house. Neither man was very interested in meeting the other, but they ended up hitting it off. Soon after, Gates asked Buffett for a business book recommendation, and Buffett loaned him his copy of “Business Adventures” by John Brookes — Gates still has it today. 

Since then, the duo has done everything from play table tennis together to participate in Berkshire Hathaway’s annual newspaper toss competition. And Gates, his wife Melinda, and Buffett launched the Giving Pledge together in 2010, vowing to give away the majority of their wealth in their lifetimes or in their wills. 

While Buffett owns a major stake in Apple, he’s said that he’ll never invest in Microsoft due to his friendship with Gates. 

Larry Ellison and Elon Musk

Larry Ellison Elon Musk
Larry Ellison, left, and Elon Musk.

Ellison and Musk appear to be two of the friendliest CEOs in tech, if their relationships with Benioff and Jobs, and Page, Brin, and Dorsey are any indication. So it’s not much of a surprise that the two moguls are “very close” friends with each other, too. 

Back in 2018, when Ellison was named to Tesla’s board of directions, he highlighted his relationship with Musk. 

“I think Tesla has a lot of upside,” Ellison said at the time. “I am not sure how many people know, but I’m very close friends with Elon Musk, and I’m a big investor in Tesla.”

It makes sense that Ellison and Musk would get along well, as they’re two of the most colorful personalities in tech. Ellison owns an entire $300 million island in Hawaii, likes to race yachts, and doesn’t mind trash-talking his competitors. Musk spends his money on rare cars, has had multiple high-profile relationships, and is often outspoken on Twitter. 

Mark Zuckerberg and Drew Houston

Mark Zuckerberg Drew Houston

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have apparently been friends for years, with the former often turning to the latter for advice

“[Zuckerberg’s] given me a lot of advice just on company scaling, how do you organize people, how do you set up these systems,” Houston told Bloomberg in 2015.

That same year, a Fast Company profile on Dropbox described Houston as a “close friend” of Zuckerberg’s. The pair has been photographed together everywhere from Houston’s birthday party at a ping-pong club to the prestigious Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. 

This past February, Houston was appointed to Facebook’s board of directors

“Drew brings valuable perspective to our board as a leader of a technology company with services used by millions of people and businesses,” Zuckerberg said in a statement at the time. “He thinks deeply about where technology is going and how to build a culture that delivers services that always work well.”

Kevin Systrom and Jack Dorsey

Kevin Systrom Jack Dorsey

Instagram founder Kevin Systrom and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey started out as close friends, but it’s hard to tell where they stand these days.  

According to the book “No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram” by Sarah Frier, the pair met when they were early employees at Odeo, the audio and video site created by eventual Twitter cofounders Ev Williams and Noah Glass. Dorsey expected to dislike Systrom when he joined as a summer intern in the mid-2000s, but the pair ended up bonding over photography and expensive coffee. 

Systrom and Dorsey stayed in touch even after Systrom got a full-time job at Google — he was an early proponent of Twitter (then known as Twttr), and when Systrom was working on Burbn, the precursor to Instagram, he reached out to Dorsey for guidance. Dorsey ended up becoming an early investor, putting in $25,000. When Burbn pivoted to Instagram, Dorsey became one of the app’s biggest fans, cross-posting his Instagrams to Twitter and helping the app go viral soon after it launched. Dorsey eventually attempted to buy Instagram, but Systrom declined, saying he wanted to make Instagram too expensive to be acquired, according to Frier. 

But the Dorsey-Systrom relationship appeared to have soured in 2012, when Dorsey found out through the grapevine that Instagram had signed a deal to be acquired by Facebook, Twitter’s biggest rival. According to Frier, Dorsey was hurt that Systrom hadn’t called him to discuss the deal, or to negotiate one with Twitter instead.

Dorsey hasn’t posted to his Instagram account since April 9, 2012, when he snapped a photo of an unusually empty San Francisco city bus — according to Frier, it was taken the morning he found out Instagram had sold. 

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