While some may have bristled at Steve Jobs calling Bill Gates an unimaginative copycat in the Jobs biography released last week, Gates says he was not one of those people. In fact, Gates says he totally gets why Jobs would, from time to time, say some pretty mean things about him. He basically suggests it was professional jealousy.
For instance, Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson, “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology,” and “He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”
Here’s how Gates responded in his Sunday interview on ABC’s This Week:
“Over the course of the 30 years we worked together, you know, he said a lot of very nice things about me and he said a lot of tough things. He faced, several times at Apple, the fact that their products were so premium priced that they literally might not stay in the marketplace. So the fact that we were succeeding with high-volume products, you know, including a range of prices, because of the way we worked with multiple companies, it’s tough. And so the fact that at various times, he felt beleaguered, he felt like he was the good guy and we were the bad guys, you know, very understandable.”
Gates seems to be referring to the Apple that Jobs returned to in 1997, when the company was 90 days from bankruptcy. Jobs eventually ended up making a deal with Microsoft to invest $150 million into the company directly as well as develop Microsoft software for the Mac, which was a huge boon to the Mac platform. And that’s also probably was Gates was referring to earlier in the interview when he sort of took credit for creating the Mac: “Steve and I worked together creating the Mac, we had more people on it, did the key software for it,” he told Christiane Amanpour.
“We” is obviously Microsoft. And as previously mentioned, they did develop Office, Internet Explorer and other development tools for the Mac. But Jobs and possibly a few others at Apple might take exception at the “worked on creating the Mac” bit.
Even so, Gates reiterates his respect for Jobs despite the blunt quotes about him that Jobs gave to his biographer:
“I respect Steve. We got to work together, we spurred each other on even as competitors. None of that bothers me at all.”