Difference between Elon Musk and Steve Jobs as leaders


Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates had the opportunity to meet and work alongside big tech giants, including the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. In an interview with Bloomberg, Gates was asked if his contemporary Elon Musk could be considered the “next Steve Jobs,” because of the progress his companies Tesla and SpaceX have made in electric cars and reusable rockets, respectively.“If you know people personally, this kind of oversimplification sounds strange,” Gates told Bloomberg in the interview released Thursday.

There are key differences between the way Musk and Jobs operate, Gates said.

“Elon is more of a field engineer. Steve was a genius in design, people choice and marketing, ”said Gates. “You wouldn’t walk into a room and confuse them. ”

Indeed, Musk often talks about his demanding schedule and hands-on approach. For example, during a Tesla earnings call in November 2017, Musk said he spends hourly in the Tesla battery production plant, even sleeping on the floor and skipping showers to catch up with the production of Tesla 3 in 2018.

“I’m personally on this line, in this machine, trying to solve problems personally where I can,” Musk said on the call. “We’re working seven days a week to do it. And I personally came here to the Zone 2 module line at 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning, to help diagnose robot calibration issues. So I do all I can.

As for Jobs, he “was such a wizard to motivate people … I could see him casting spells and then I would look at people and see them hypnotized,” Gates told podcast host Dax Shepard on Aug. 20.

For example, Apple CEO Tim Cook described how Jobs convinced him to join Apple when the two met in 1998. Cook was initially hesitant, but ” [Jobs] talked, and the way the chemistry was in the room, it was just him and me, ”he told Charlie Rose in a 2014 interview.“ I looked at the issues Apple was having and I thought you know, I can make a contribution here. And working with him, and that’s a privilege of a lifetime.

“And so all of a sudden I thought, I do it. I’ll go … ”

Gates and Jobs had a notoriously complicated relationship.

Musk and Gates also have their differences.

In August, Gates wrote a blog post about electric vehicles, claiming that they “will never be a practical solution” to replacing trucks and long-haul vehicles. Musk responded to Gates’ comments on Twitter on September 11, saying he “had no idea” about electric trucks. (Gates said in the Bloomberg interview that Musk’s electric car “is a huge contribution to the climate change effort,” that Tesla “did it with quality” and that “other automakers, seeing his success, will come [into the market]. « )

Gates also slammed Musk after Musk called the California pandemic stay-at-home orders “fascist” during Tesla’s earnings call in April. “Elon’s positioning is to maintain a high level of outrageous comments. He is not very involved in vaccines. He makes a great electric car. And his rockets are working well. So it is ok to say these things. Hope he’s not confusing areas he’s not too involved in, “Gates told CNBC’s” Squawk Box “of the comment in July.

Of course, Gates’ own reputation evolved. When Microsoft started out, Gates was known for setting high standards for the company and for being very hard on his team. “I certainly wasn’t in love when I ran Microsoft,” he said on Shepard’s podcast.

A representative for Musk did not immediately respond to CNBC’s Make It request for comment.

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