Steve Jobs Called Google's Vic Gundotra on a Sunday About this Icon

Thursday August 25, 2011 3:18 AM PDT by Arnold Kim

With the news of Steve Jobs' resignation as CEO, several reaction pieces and stories have been circulating. One popular one is from Google's Vic Gundotra who posts an anecdote about Steve Jobs urgently calling him on a Sunday in January, 2008.
I laughed nervously. After all, while it was customary for Steve to call during the week upset about something, it was unusual for him to call me on Sunday and ask me to call his home. I wondered what was so important?

"So Vic, we have an urgent issue, one that I need addressed right away. I've already assigned someone from my team to help you, and I hope you can fix this tomorrow" said Steve. "I've been looking at the Google logo on the iPhone and I'm not happy with the icon. The second O in Google doesn't have the right yellow gradient. It's just wrong and I'm going to have Greg fix it tomorrow. Is that okay with you?"
The story was complimentary to Jobs, and Gundotra pointed out Jobs' attention to detail as a positive trait for a CEO:
But in the end, when I think about leadership, passion and attention to detail, I think back to the call I received from Steve Jobs on a Sunday morning in January. It was a lesson I'll never forget. CEOs should care about details. Even shades of yellow. On a Sunday.
Based on the date given, we determined that this was for Apple's 2008 Macworld San Francisco keynote speech which was delivered a week later by Steve Jobs. Jobs introduced webclips and custom home screen icons for the iPhone during that keynote. This was before the App Store was launched. The Google icon in question is pictured above.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

42 months ago
Some people dislike Steve or think he's an ass. What they don't realise is all the best business men are...well...a word I can't really say on here.
All those haters have no idea of the kind of person Steve REALLY is. From this post, the idea I get of Steve is a person who cares. The guy clearly puts his heart and soul into the company and when he is truly gone he will be missed beyond belief.

It was Steve who saved Apple and made them the company they are today. I wouldn't be typing on this particular iMac if Steve hadn't come back to Apple. I wouldn't be using OSX Lion. OSX wouldn't exist. In fact, if it wasn't for Steve Apple wouldn't exist at all. I, as a Mac user, owe much to him as I'm sure many of you also do.

On a side note, for the ones who call it OCD. It's that kind of OCD which resulted in the fantastic products you're now using.
Rating: 16 Votes
42 months ago

There is nothing epic about this. This is borderline, dare I say, full, OCD on Steve's part.

Micro-management on issues without any importance.

Many designers would call it attention to detail.

I see from your previous posts that you're into photography. I'm sure you've analyzed and critiqued many of your own photos. If you planned on submitting a photograph to a magazine or contest, wouldn't you try to make sure everything was the best it could be?

Given your relatively nice posts on the forum and the fact that you run your own business, I find it odd that you choose to openly question a successful businessman on his methods.
Rating: 14 Votes
42 months ago
So we have resolved that ugly yellow.

Can we go on now and resolve all these other ugly icons in the Lion Finder?! And please make this unspeakable "real world" appearance from iCal / Address Book go away!

Please have this fixed by Monday. Thank you.


Any questions?

Hell yeah: can we now get our matte displays back? The glossy ones suck big time!
Rating: 10 Votes
42 months ago
Haha, that's so awesome. I totally relate to Jobs' mentality too... I can't STAND to see ugly software, hardware, whatever. And beauty is part of what makes Apple products what they are (not saying it's the only reason I buy them)
Rating: 8 Votes
42 months ago
The thing I love most about this story is that it shows a healthy working relationship on both sides of the fence. Too often some on here think of Apple vs Google, when in fact, both will have worked closely with one another. Its really heartening IMO to see this kind of relationship, where CEOs can talk to each other in order to resolve issues.
Rating: 8 Votes
42 months ago

Steve rules! Imagine being the engineer assigned to fix this on Monday morning!!

This engineer was named in the post, and he appears to be the director of human interface at Apple.

Rating: 6 Votes
42 months ago
lol. Epic.
Rating: 5 Votes
42 months ago
I wish more CEOs cared about their products, actually took pride in them, instead of your typical beancounting MBAs who cares about nothing but cutting costs, and commoditization of skills (aka outsourcing). That crap could be done by a simple computer program---no need to pay someone a lottery-size paycheck each year to make those kinds of decisions. It takes zero talent to put people out of work.

In contrast, making great products that people actually want requires the human element: passion, vision, understanding users, and understanding a little about the product at a more technical level (can't be solely 1000 miles above like your typical MBA who often have never even tried to use the product---they have people for that.)
Rating: 5 Votes
42 months ago
If he had said he welcomed hearing that Jobs had called, that would be one thing. Instead, he said it made him nervous.

Anyone who thinks this was the right thing to do, has obviously never had an executive call them up in the middle of their personal time to say that they needed a minor detail changed so their presentation would look better.

This was no weekend emergency. It was going to be fixed the next day, and apparently wasn't even needed until Jobs' presentation a week later.

Seems pretty disrespectful of other people's time.

CEOs should care about details. Even shades of yellow. On a Sunday.

Of course they should. Then they can do something about it during the work week, instead of barging in on other people's personal time. It's sick the way that companies think they own everyone 24/7 nowadays.
Rating: 5 Votes
42 months ago

I'll just refer you to the last paragraph in Vic Gundotra's post:

You talk about "respect."

The reason that Steve Jobs called Gundotra was because that logo was Google's intellectual property. And that, rather than simply tell his people at Apple to go ahead and make whatever changes he wanted, Steve Jobs respected Google, and Mr Gundotra's position at that company, enough to ask their permission first. That the way their logo looked was an important part of Google's brand, and that it would be morally, and probably legally, wrong to modify it in any way without clearing it first.

This seems to be a nicety that gets lost on a lot of people.

Very good point. It seems very few (if any) people caught this.

Sort of puts Apple's litigation efforts in a new, more positive light - not that there was anything wrong with it in the first place, particularly their "respect our IP" line.
Rating: 4 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]