Ah, to live the live as CEO of a mutli-billion dollar corporation. It must be full of trips on your private jet sipping smoothies, cruising San Francisco with infamous rock stars, and bossing around your employees and keeping them on task, because you are on a mission.
For Steve Jobs, that mission is messianic: he was put here on this planet to save us all from our terrible "stink of Windows laptops" and create beautiful objects that "restore a sense of childlike wonder to people's lives." If you dare doubt his artistic infallibility, he will put you in your place, saying "dude, I invented the friggin iPod. Have you heard of it?"
Of course, this isn't the real Steve Jobs. Although there is plenty of evidence supporting the real Jobs' egomaniacal side (ever seen The Pirates of Silicon Valley?), Fake Steve Jobs personifies the worst aspects of the Silicon Valley CEO: self-absorbed, unreliable, and corrupted by money.
The real Fake Steve Jobs (or something?) is actually Daniel Lyons, a Forbes Magazine reporter who started a blog last year (fakesteve.blogspot.com) that parodied a "day in the life" of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The blog took on an impressionistic vision of what it's like to head the company that invented the friggin iPod and renewed our childlike wonder for beautiful computers. In terms of the satirical value of the Fake Steve Jobs blog, Lyons has delivered the tech equivalent of Steven Colbert's The Colbert Report, and the book version is just as good.
Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs is written like a memoir and follows Steve Jobs during Apple's stock options scandal last year, which left questions about the integrity of Jobs' role in Apple's stock. But this book isn't really about the ins and outs of SEC regulation and stock market law; instead, Options follows Steve Jobs' complete ignorance of the situation and the effects it has on the company. In one particularly funny scene, Jobs is being grilled by those investigating his company, and he explains that it's obviously not his fault because he is "mathlexic," which is "like being dislexic, only with numbers." Jobs believes that this is a perfectly logical explanation.
In fact, Lyons has created the perfect evil genius in Fake Steve Jobs. He is a man well-versed in some pop culture version of Zen Buddhism, and he truly believes he can control people's minds. He is also a man so self-absorbed that no one is allowed to talk to him (except during a scheduled time published on his iCal account) lest they risk being fired.
Plus, Fake Steve Jobs surrounds himself with people who help him hone in his creative skills so he can invent even more friggin awesome iProducts that the frigtards at Microsoft will most likely steal. Some of the funniest scenes in the book revolve around his interaction with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. Both characters are caught together contemplating the tenets of Zen Buddhism while smoking some weed or tripping on peyote, and both seem completely lost on what to do with this stock options scandal thing.
Even if you're not familiar with the real-life characters, Options provides some hilarious moments. Jobs also spends a lot of time with Bono, who has a really bad Irish accent, apparently. Bono yells a lot and says things like "jaysus! Another fookin iPod? You're like Willy fookin Wonka in his fookin chocolate factory, out there baking up your fookin iPods." Even Hillary Clinton makes an appearance while she is trying to get some money "under the table" for her campaign: "Stevie, honey, you can endorse Osama bin Laden for all I care… I just want your money, sweetie." The motley crew of real and fake characters props up the satirical world Lyons tries to create, showing that Jobs isn't the only crazy one out there.
But Options isn't a satire for everyone. If you're not too well-versed in the ins and outs of Silicon Valley, you may not get every joke or every name. I've read up on the history of Silicon Valley, and I still didn't know about half of the names Lyons drops throughout this book. But then again, I'm so Web 2.0. A quick read of the options scandal surrounding Apple will also help you if you are lost, since most of Options assumes you know what's going on.
Overall, Options is a hilarious jab at one of the most revered CEO's in the tech industry right now. As a novel written in first person with a linear narrative, Options is able to do what the Fake Steve Jobs blog is unable to do: that is, create a character that may be jilted by his own sense of self, but has a soul somewhere deep inside the hard exterior. Whether you are into the world of technology or not, Options is a great read that will have you laughing out loud.Powered by Sidelines