From the Archive
How Mark Zuckerberg Hacked Silicon Valley
In 2006, when he was 22, Mark Zuckerberg gave up writing computer code to focus on managing his rapidly growing startup. Like Jim Brown retiring from football at 29 or E.M. Forster abandoning the novel in his forties, the prodigy who programmed the very first version of Facebook was walking away from his transcendent talent. Or so it seemed. A few years later, Zuckerberg began setting annual tests of discipline for himself, vowing to wear a tie to work every day in 2009, learn Mandarin in 2010, and personally kill any animal he ate in 2011. Earlier this year, unbeknown to all but a few friends and co-workers, he gave himself a new challenge with unknown ramifications for what is soon to be Silicon Valley’s newest public company. Mark Zuckerberg pledged to return to his roots and spend time programming each day. Read the full cover story at Businessweek.com.
The Education of Google’s Larry Page
Larry Page is surrounded. On one side, Google's chief executive officer confronts Facebook, the social networking phenom that is about to go public. On his other side is Apple, which has moved the playing field off the desktop computer—Google’s fiefdom—and onto smartphones and tablets. Thus Page, who became CEO of Google a year ago, has the task of steering the company he co-founded through territory defined by two rivals while fending off accusations that his brainchild has become yet another lumbering monopolist or, worse, a follower. READ THE BUSINESSWEEK COVER STORY
Amazon’s Hit Man
In November 1997, on a night of pounding rain in midtown Manhattan, Rupert Murdoch threw a party for Jane Friedman, the new chief executive officer of News Corp.’s HarperCollins book division. The luminaries of the publishing business, such as Random House’s then-CEO Alberto Vitale and literary agent Lynn Nesbit, crowded into the Monkey Bar on 54th Street, with its red-leather booths and hand-painted murals of gamboling chimps. Trudging six blocks through the downpour from the Time & Life Building, Laurence J. Kirshbaum, then the powerful head of Time Warner Book Group, brought a guest: a young online bookseller named Jeffrey P. Bezos, whose ambitions would eventually end up affecting the lives of everybody at the party. “It was one of those moments in your life where you remember everything,” Kirshbaum says. “In fact, I think Bezos still owes me an umbrella.” Read the full Bloomberg Business cover story on Amazon's frictions with publishers.
Flight of the Warbots
The members of Apache Troop couldn’t see a thing. It was August 2010, 0200 hours. About 120 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers were silently spreading out over a remote farm in northwestern Iraq. Their objective: a mud hut where, according to intelligence reports, two suicide bombers were planning an attack on a checkpoint to coincide with the end of Ramadan. But the allied soldiers, even wearing night vision goggles, couldn’t locate the hut; eight-foot-tall sunflowers obscured their view.
As the troops searched for their target, two U.S. cavalrymen set up on the edge of the squadron, reached into their packs, and withdrew the components of a 4-lb. miniature airplane called the Raven-B. They assembled it in seconds, revved its motor until it buzzed like an angry bee, and threw it into the air. Read the rest of the feature story on Businessweek.com.
Scott Forstall: the Sorcerer’s Apprentice At Apple
Scott Forstall, who went to work for Jobs right out of college, was one of the key architects of Apple’s current success. In less than five years, iOS—the latest version, iOS 5, ships this week—has become one of the most valuable corporate assets on earth. His name is on about 50 Apple patents that cover everything from how application icons are laid out on the iPhone screen to the method of turning off a device with a finger swipe. On a crucial 2009 patent for a touchscreen device controlled by finger commands, “Forstall, Scott” is listed second, right after “Jobs, Steven P.” But Forstall is like Steve in one other important way: He can be, in what some of his co-workers might call an understatement, a polarizing figure. Read the full Bloomberg Businessweek cover story at Businessweek.com.
Steve Jobs: The Return
Steve Jobs was not accustomed to boos, but there he was, on stage at the airy and decrepit Park Plaza Castle auditorium in Boston, absorbing a crescendo of unhappiness. It was 1997, the year Jobs replaced Gil Amelio and declared himself “interim CEO” of Apple, saying he was too busy with Pixar and family to take over permanently. At the annual Macworld Expo that August, Jobs told the long-suffering Apple faithful that there was still hope for the computer company but that it would first have to put aside its all-too-consuming fixation with its dominant rival, Microsoft. Read the full story on Businessweek.com, part of our memorial issue devoted to Jobs.
Steve Jobs Departs a World He Helped Transform
Steven P. Jobs was born on Feb. 24, 1955, into an era of rotary phones and room-sized computers. He died on Oct. 5, 2011, having contributed perhaps more than any other person to forging an age of personal computers, slick electronic tablets, and slender mobile phones with a thousand times more computing power than the old mainframes. Jobs was 56 when he died, of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was surrounded by friends and family, including his wife, Laurene, and their children. Read the Obituary on Businessweek.com.
Amazon, the Company that Ate the World
Jeff Bezos is channeling Steve Jobs. It’s mid-September, 2011, and the wiry billionaire founder of Amazon.com is at his brand-new corporate headquarters in Seattle, in a building named Day One South after his conviction that 17-year-old Amazon is still in its infancy. Almost giddy with excitement, Bezos retrieves one by one the new crop of dirt-cheap Kindle e-readers—they start at $79—from a hidden perch on a chair tucked into a conference room table. When he’s done showing them off, he stands up, and, for an audience of a single journalist, announces, “Now, I’ve got one more thing to show you.” He waits a half-beat to make sure the reference to Jobs’s famous line from Apple presentations hasn’t been missed, then gives his notorious barking laugh. With that, Bezos pulls out the Kindle Fire, Amazon’s long-anticipated tablet computer—and the first credible response to the Apple iPad. Read the full Bloomberg Businessweek cover story.
Understanding China’s Tencent: March of the Penguins
It’s hot and crowded in the Shatang Internet Café in the southern coastal city of Shenzhen, where some 300 young factory workers sit amid flickering lights and discarded cigarette packs. At one computer, Zhou Qingqing chats with her boyfriend about 600 miles away in Zhejiang province using QQ, the popular instant messaging software.
She interrupts the conversation to play an online game called QQ Dancer, maneuvering a fashionably dressed avatar to the beat of a catchy Chinese pop song. “This is the only game I know how to play,” she says. “It’s easy.” Read the entire feature at Businessweek.com.
Why Facebook Needs Sheryl Sandberg
On a Tuesday afternoon in late April, 30 managers of Facebook's various business units come together to discuss a matter that preoccupies its famous founder: how to keep their rapidly growing little company from getting too big. The meeting, organized and led by the second-most-famous person at the social network, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, focuses on how to solve the problems of users, advertisers, and partner websites by using automated systems rather than bringing in thousands of new employees. Read the whole story on Businessweek.com