Bill Gates says Steve Jobs was a master at 'casting spells' to keep Apple from dying

Key Points
  • The Microsoft co-founder marveled at how Jobs could mesmerize his staff.
  • Jobs was a singular case and it would be hard to replicate his style successfully, Gates says.
Bill Gates
Gerard Miller | CNBC

Steve Jobs was a master at "casting spells" to keep Apple employees motivated and working long hours, said Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of technology giant Microsoft.

"I was like a minor wizard because he would be casting spells, and I would see people mesmerized, but because I'm a minor wizard, the spells don't work on me," said Gates, the world's second-richest person.

Despite that, Jobs, the former Apple CEO who died of pancreatic cancer in 2011, was an example of "don't do this at home" in his style of leadership, Gates said.

While it's really easy to imitate the bad parts of Steve, Gates said, "I have yet to meet any person who in terms of picking talent, hyper-motivating that talent," who could match him. "He brought some incredibly positive things along with that toughness."

Jobs was a singular case, Gates said, where Apple was on a path to die and goes on to become the most valuable company in the world.

There aren't going to be many stories like that, he said.

Since Jobs' passing, leadership of the company has gone to current CEO Tim Cook. And on June 27, the company announced the departure of Jony Ive, Apple's chief design officer. Ive is considered one of the most important people at Apple, responsible for the industrial design and the look and feel of all major Apple products, including the iPhone and the Mac. He had worked at Apple for more than 20 years.

Gates was interviewed by CNN's Fareed Zakaria for a program on leadership that was scheduled for broadcast on Sunday. A podcast of the interview can be found here.

When asked about his own style of leadership, Gates, who had his own reputation of being hard on people, said: "Other than a DOJ deposition I gave, no one ever said that when I went out to talk to the press or customers, that I was rude or abrupt or commanding."

Inside Microsoft, "we were pretty tough on each other...sometimes that went too far. "

This was Bill Gates' biggest mistake at Microsoft
This was Bill Gates' biggest mistake at Microsoft