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The myth of the genius technology inventor


It’s a de facto insult in Silicon Valley that executives are very capable of running a company. Inventors, not good managers, are often praised for their technology.

Imagine a mad scientist realizing the vision of the first personal computer, software that organizes all websites around the world, and a cool electric car. Turning an idea into a viable and lasting business is slow by comparison.

It is a constant fear among engineers that a company gives more power to a business operative than an inventor. I understand the concerns. Now that technology is a huge industry, innovation is essential and difficult to sustain.

However, sticking to individual ingenuity rather than all other abilities is a selective memory of the history of technology. Victory is often the result of imagination and relentless business knowledge. Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos are respected not only for their technical imagination, but also for their superiority in their ability to unite the people behind their business strategy, marketing, or shared mission.

Good ideas alone are not enough in most cases. Strong leaders also need more practicalism and other skills than dreaming. And the fact that technology is injecting everything means that the myth of the genius inventor of technology is hampering progress.

Ten years after Jobs died, I started reading a new book by my colleague Tripp Mickle, so I was thinking about this.

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, is familiar with the details of manufacturing. Jony Ive was the genius of design that helped Jobs make computers fun and shape modern smartphones. I stopped working full-time at Apple in 2019, and Tripp complained that technicians and “accountants” were breathing Apple’s soul.

this is Refrain It Emerging Regularly among engineers and investors who say Apple is no longer exposed to product inventions and creativity.I had similar complaints About Microsoft I sometimes hear about Google, led by Sundar Pichai and Uber, under former CEO Steve Ballmer. rear Its founder, Travis Kalanick, was pressured to resign in 2017. The fear is that corporate bureaucrats have won the technical skills and hearts.

Some of them are of natural concern to companies as they grow larger. There are also feelings that seem to reflect the nostalgia of an era when the invention of technology was everything. Except that it is a selective reading of the history of technology.

The famous Silicon Valley inventor is often both mind and mind. Jobs was a talented technician, but most were excellent pitchmen and brand geniuses. Amazon reflects Bezos’s original ideas and his financial magic. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg were more competitive business strategists than software coding masterminds. Elon Musk is a great inventor, but his SpaceX is Operations experts, including Gwynne Shotwell..

The belief that ingenuity is the most important ability of these tech icons “has obscured the core skill set that makes these people extraordinary.” Margaret OmaraA professor at the University of Washington studying the history of technology companies.

“Lonely genius is a powerful myth because it has a grain of truth,” she said, but it also ignores the collaboration needed to realize other skills and ideas. “Even Thomas Edison had so many people in his lab,” Omara said.

Tripp’s book reveals that Apple, as we know it today, wouldn’t exist without Cook and other technicians. The development of the iPhone was a once-in-a-lifetime achievement, but Apple needed a relentless geek like Cook to make hundreds of millions of perfect copies each year and keep them from breaking.

It’s also becoming clear that the skills needed to transform technology are changing.

Technology is no longer limited to the invention of shiny ive in cardboard boxes. It has become an enabler to rethink systems such as healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation.

Indeed, it requires a creative thinker who can come up with artificial intelligence codes, virtual worlds, or satellites that direct Internet services to Earth. But at the risk of ringing Wu, it also has a curiosity about the complexity of people and the world, the ability to navigate institutional and human inertia, and a collective will to pursue a brighter future. You need convincing power to call. You need the power to invent, but that’s not enough.


  • A dramatic day for Lyft and Uber: My colleague Keren Browning writes that Lyft has disappointed investors with disclosure of passenger numbers and a warning that the company is struggling to attract enough on-demand drivers. Although these issues have not occurred, Uber said, the stock prices of both companies have fallen today. We will continue to track what will happen in the future.

  • The crypto executive wasn’t the one he said. My colleague Ron Lieber has uncovered the truth about an executive at software company ZenLedger, who misrepresented his academic and professional background and investment performance.

  • They truly believe in the black market Birkin bag. cut write in About a group of Reddit people who can afford luxury goods but are dedicated to buying counterfeit goods. Group RepLadies is “characterized by a sort of ridicule of genuine merchandise and the belief that buying a replica is a way to destroy the system and stick to it for men.” (A subscription may be required.)

Actresses Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin Compare the number of professional awardsAnd I’m glad how much they enjoy each other.


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