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The Intensity of Entrepreneur Jobs

(p. 114) As Jobs was criticizing the Pixar managers for failing to hit a delivery date on a project, Smith interrupted and said, "Steve, but you haven't delivered your board on time"--meaning, a board for the NeXT computer.

It was the sort of remark Jobs normally might have put up with, but it seemed Smith had crossed a line by joking about Jobs's [sic] computer. "He went completely nonlinear," Smith recalled. "He went crazy on me and started insulting my accent."

Jobs had homed in on a sensitive spot. Smith's native southwestern accent, which he had mostly suppressed since his days as an academic in New York City, sometimes reemerged in moments of stress. Jobs mocked it.

"So I went nonlinear, too, which I had never done before or since," Smith remembered. "We're screaming at each other, and our faces are about three inches apart."

There was an unspoken understanding around Jobs that the whiteboard in his office was part of his personal space--no one else was to write on it. As the confrontation went on, Smith defiantly marched past him and started writing on the whiteboard. "You can't do that," Jobs interjected. When Smith continued writing, Jobs stormed out of the room.

To outward appearances, the conflict blew over, but the men's relationship would never be the same.


Price, David A. The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.

(Note: italics in original.)

(Note: my strong impression is that the pagination is the same for the 2008 hardback and the 2009 paperback editions, except for part of the epilogue, which is revised and expanded in the paperback. I believe the passage above has the same page number in both editions.)

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