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The Difference Between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates?

The whole world is eulogizing Steve Jobs today, on Twitter, in the media, in cafes, everywhere.

On the alumni list for ITP, the grad program I went to, someone wrote in about an encounter he had with Jobs:

I asked him, “if you could talk to yourself from 20 years ago, what would you talk about?” and he replied, “women” without missing a beat.

I thought this was funny in contrast to my encounter with Bill Gates several years ago:

I asked him, “what would you have done if you hadn’t started Microsoft?” he thought for a second and replied “Good question – I probably would have gone into economics.

It occurred to me that maybe that was a good way to think about Steve Jobs versus Bill Gates: Jobs driven by people and finding out what makes them tick. Gates driven by numbers and equations, and, well, economics. Jobs expressing his orientation by creating a suite of lifestyle devices tailored to people’s everyday lives. Gates expressing his by creating an operating system that took over the world and office suite products that went on every computer in every company everywhere.

Kind of the opposing forces of the golden age of computers.

Does that hold any water? I can’t really say as I don’t (didn’t) know either men. But from way over here in Brooklyn, NY it seems like it could.

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