AAPL Stock: 114.64 ( -3.8 )

Printed from

Jobs kept philanthropy off-limits for Isaacson biography

updated 01:35 pm EST, Thu December 15, 2011

Apple co-founder's charity efforts still secret

One of the few subjects Steve Jobs refused to talk about for a biography by Walter Isaacson was philanthropy, according to ISI Group's Brian Marshall. The analyst says he was in attendance at a recent Q&A session with Isaacson at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. The author explained that during interviews, Jobs would stay mum about charity in general as well as the specific question of how his fortune would be distributed after his death.

Isaacson made specific reference to The Giving Pledge, a movement started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, urging the wealthiest Americans to donate most of their money. Jobs is not known to have participated. In fact the Apple co-founder was notoriously quiet about philanthropy during his lifetime, and is not believed to have made many contributions. A short video excerpt from Isaacson's talk yesterday (below) finds the author admitting that "nice" is not one of the adjectives anyone would use to describe Jobs.

Apple itself was rarely involved in charity until Tim Cook took over as CEO. Since 2006 its main charitable face has been participation in (Product)RED, which donates some proceeds from a small group of products toward the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. The founder of (Product)RED, U2 singer Bono, has defended Apple has having the best contributions of any company, ranking in the tens of millions of dollars.

During his Q&A, Isaacson is said to have revealed some other, smaller bits of information. These include the fact that in the biography, any hurtful comments by people which had no purpose in the text were deliberately omitted. There are also small errors in the book, such as Burl Smith being labeled a software engineer instead of a hardware engineer. Jobs is lastly reported to have stated that he didn't try to replace himself at Apple; instead he chose executives he thought could keep the company competitive. He felt the company was his greatest achievement, rather than any individual product.

by MacNN Staff





  1. macjockey

    Joined: Dec 1969



    mine, mine, it's all mine

    Comment buried. Show
  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    That is because

    Jobs was too cheap and stingy to help anybody. His only concern was to maximize profits for Apple and it's shareholders. Let the less fortunate be_damned.

    Of course Jobs did not want to talk about charity work, or lack thereof on his part. If the public knew how he couldn't give_a_sh1t about needy, that would paint him as an evil guy. Jobs naturally had to silence this. No big surfuckingprise here.

    Yeah yeah, Jobs was a visionary, yeah yeah he revolutionized this and that, blah blah blah. In the end, he was just another lousy selfish human being.

    Say what you want about Bill Gates. At least he helps countless people though his charitable foundations. Sometimes, for some people, that's more important that profits.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Make crappy products and...

    become the savior. Just look no further than Microsoft Word. Such KrapWare and it gets worse with each version. BILLIONS of hours have been lost because of it.

    Philantro my A55.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Nobody said Jobs didn't give...

    ...or that he did give, and nobody knows but Jobs (and probably his immediate family).

    There are two types of people who give: those who give and want to be recognized for giving, and those who give and don't want or don't care to be recognized for giving. Some give for personal validation, and some give because they recognize someone needs their assistance.

    Some givers say, "Look at me! I'm giving! Aren't I good? Pat me on the back! When's the next talk show I'm on so I can talk about how much I give?!"

    Some givers just give.

    Some don't give.

    Nobody here knows which Steve was, because Steve didn't give and then publicly ask for a validating pat on the back.

  1. Jeff Simpson

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The company founded by Jobs, gave tens of thousands of people excellent incomes for decades. It gave the employees their livelihood. It gave security to thousands of families. Those people then could, in turn, share their wealth however they chose.

    Traditional philanthropy is good. So is creating a company by which folks can earn an income and share their wealth.

  1. chas_m




    Actually, Apple has had a number of charitable-giving programs where it matches employee contributions over the years, and Apple also had a long-standing educational grant program that offered free machines and software to teachers and some low-income groups. I also recall the company giving free machines to the 9/11 families.

    But no, Apple was never a huge philanthropic organization. I don't recall MS being particularly philanthropic until BG started the foundation (and good on him for doing so). Prior to that, MS mostly made "donations" that undercut competitors or locked schools into the MS eco-system, which I'm hesitate to call "charity."

    Had Steve lived long enough to grow older and retire, would he have found some charitable work to donate money to? Given his wife, I suspect so in some fashion, but of course we'll never really know.

  1. imNat-imadouche

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Steve kept hum about it?

    Probably cause he didn't contribute to any needy causes so nothing to talk about.

    Oh well for a smart guy who innovates, I can't believe he was stupid to think by eating fruits would rid him of his cancer.

Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.


Network Headlines

Follow us on Facebook


Most Popular


Recent Reviews

HP 14-x030nr 14-inch Chromebook

If you're like us, chances are you've come to realize that you need the ability to access the Internet on the go. Also, you've prob ...

15-inch MacBook Pro with Force Touch

Apple's 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro continues to be a popular notebook with professional users and prosumers looking for the ultimate ...

Typo keyboard for iPad

Following numerous legal shenanigans between Typo -- a company founded in part by Ryan Seacrest -- and the clear object of his physica ...


Most Commented