Bloomberg Businessweek, "Stories About Steve"

henry t nicholas co-founder of broadcom discusses working with Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple computer

Henry Nicholas

Founder, Broadcom

I never knew when Steve was going to call. But I knew that when he did, it would probably be in the middle of the night. In 2001 my company was developing Ethernet chips for Mac computers. Steve was enormously excited about our product. He was enormously excited about everything. And restless and sometimes agitated—and frankly, he could be a bit of a pain. He was like a bulldog. He worked all the time, day and night, and he expected everyone around him to be that way, too. He insisted that the person at the top or someone who had absolute control was the guy he interfaced with. He demanded that he get as much time as necessary. If it was 3 in the morning and Steve had a thought or a question or complaint, he picked up the phone and called, right then. The concept of “that can wait until the morning” did not apply. He wasn’t going to sleep until he addressed the issue. 

Sometimes I was at home in bed, but sometimes I too was at the office working—and there he’d be, on the other end of the line. No small talk. Right to business. “We’ve got an issue,” he would say. When he called he was often worked up about something and he started out aggressively. Were we going to make our delivery date? (Yes, of course we were). Did we solve whatever puzzle he had called about in the middle of the night the week before? (Yes, of course we had). He wasn’t overbearing or unreasonable. He just had incredibly high expectations. Once he had satisfied his need for information, he would mellow. We talked about music. I ribbed him about the Rolling Stones. He made fun of me for listening to Metallica. All of Steve’s urgency and attention to detail was for a reason: He believed it was up to us to do the hard work of making technology simpler to use instead of more complex, and he made me feel like I was taking part in something special. 

When Apple first became our customer it was a major player, but far from the biggest. Steve was able to get me to focus my time and attention on Apple with an intensity that was way disproportionate to its market share. He was able to get me to believe—even half asleep in the middle of the night.

Photographer: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

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