When we got back to Cupertino, Steve’s meeting with Bill Gates didn’t go any better. Bill flew down and was ushered into the Picasso meeting room. Steve often kept Bill waiting; I was never sure whether Steve wanted to finish what he was in the middle of first, or if keeping Bill waiting was a tactic to put him at a little disadvantage by making him uncomfortable. Or if maybe it was just some little-boy act of Steve’s, as a way of saying, “I’m more important than you are.”
Steve did not like or respect Bill Gates. At almost every meeting with Bill that I attended, Steve lived up to his reputation for being difficult. At this meeting in Cupertino after our East Coast trip, Steve was openly rude, talking down to Bill—literally talking down to him: Steve bounced out of his chair so that Bill had to be looking up at him while Steve spewed in that candid, earnest-but-hurtful way he sometimes used when his emotions were near the surface. Bill made complaints similar to what we had heard from Mitch about the Mac operating system being complex and Mac sales too weak. Steve scolded Bill with a line that became famous: “Bill, you don’t get it: Hardware drives software. Software is the glue for the user; the hardware is just what they see.”
After Bill left and after Steve had relaxed, I said to him, “Steve, I understand your contempt for Bill, but being rude isn’t the answer. The answer is proving you’re right.”
Good advice, I thought, but it would be more than 20 years ...