Leadership

Kara Swisher on what everyone gets wrong about Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs held up the new iPhone during his keynote address at MacWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco on Jan. 9, 2007.
Paul Sakuma | AP
Steve Jobs held up the new iPhone during his keynote address at MacWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco on Jan. 9, 2007.

Steve Jobs was a legendary, iconic innovator. He was also famously short tempered, opinionated and hard to work with.

But Kara Swisher, one of today's most well-respected tech journalists, says that Jobs has been misunderstood.

"People used to say he was heartless," says Swisher, talking to Tim Ferris, author of "Tools of Titans" and "The 4-Hour Workweek," on his podcast, "The Tim Ferriss Show."

"People used to say he was heartless ... I think he had too much heart." -Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode

"I think he had too much heart. You know what I mean? He cared too much. He had so much heart that he just couldn't stand it when things weren't right," says Swisher.

Now the executive editor of Recode, Swisher interviewed Jobs between 8 and 10 times, she says.

"I think he just had a lot of heart and it was overwhelming to him," says Swisher. "And he had a lot of feelings and he never hid them."

Swisher recounts waiting backstage with Jobs at a conference. The tech titan instigated a conversation with Swisher about her children. Jobs, who was adopted, shared the emotional process he had gone through finding his own birth parents.

"He was so passionate and heartfelt about it. And then he hugged us all," says Swisher, adding, "It was really fascinating."

Swisher doesn't protest the notion that Jobs was a demanding boss. Even then, though, she says, he was acting out of an obsessive compulsion that things be right, not out of any desire to inflict misery.

And, Swisher says, Jobs knew how he came off. "He never pretended that he wasn't kind of an a------ sometimes."