We have been inundated with stories about Steve Jobs, so I'll keep this brief. You can't celebrate the life of a man by celebrating only half of him. Thanks to Gawker editor Ryan Tate for his rather brave article, What Everyone Is Too Polite to Say About Steve Jobs, we can at least start moving away from blind devotion to, and veneration of, a business leader toward a more pragmatic view of a pragmatic man. However, as an entrepreneur, I take issue with the equalization of Steve Jobs and Apple by both the admirers and the critics.
Steve Jobs was one man, an entrepeneur, and a business leader. He was a personal friend, former boss, and lifelong inspiration to several of my colleagues. For them, he wasn't a myth, a technological deity; he was the bowtied man who annoyed them about the look of the trash can icon or the man who was disappointed that they never tried LSD. Steve Jobs was far more interesting as an individual, very human being than his posthumous narrative which declares him a visionary, pioneer, genius, world changer, revolutionizer, and "exemplar of all chief executives."
Apple was never the product of just one man; it was founded by two, both who left or were fired at some point. Apple is now a company with nearly 50,000 employees. That's nearly 50,000 people, members of a global community from a variety of backgrounds with tremendous expertise, each influencing the direction and meaning of Apple in their way. Apple was not Steve Jobs and Steve Jobs was not Apple. Those nearly 50,000 people, as well as the many people who came before them, are not given the honest credit for which they are due when you (in the media) praise or criticize one man in isolation for the accomplishments or actions of an entire company.
Furthermore, Steve Jobs was a business leader. A leader without followers is not a leader at all. Entrepreneurs and chief executives are defined by their relationships with the people they support and who support them. To praise or criticize Steve Jobs in isolation from those who were his employees, from his company, is an insult to his memory, to his record, and to the legacy he left behind. Steve Jobs was a great leader, but he did not build Apple alone.