Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is famous for his book recommendations, so it’s unsurprising when he makes a literary reference. What is surprising is that Harry Potter is among Gates’s working references and that today he called himself a “minor wizard” in a discussion about the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who Gates claimed “cast spells” and had everyone else mesmerized.
Bloomberg reports that in an interview with Fareed Zakaria of CNN, to be aired tonight (July 7) on “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” Gates spoke of himself and his former rival, Jobs, in magical terms. “I was like a minor wizard because he would be casting spells, and I would see people mesmerized, but because I’m a minor wizard, the spells don’t work on me,” said Gates of Jobs.
The Microsoft founder pointed out that even when a particular Jobs project did poorly, the man still managed to wow. Citing Jobs’s introduction in 1988 of the NeXT computer, which eventually “completely failed,” Gates said “it was such nonsense, and yet he mesmerized…people.”
Gates spoke fondly of Jobs, who was both his competitor and collaborator at times, and expressed admiration for his talent. He admitted that Jobs could be an “asshole” and was occasionally difficult, but said “he brought some incredibly positive things along with that toughness.” Gates noted that Jobs was not only good at impressing with his own ideas but also exceptionally capable when it came to sniffing out skills in others and motivating those people to produce good work for him. He said he has yet to meet anyone who can rival Jobs in that regard.
While Gates was surely joking when he said that Jobs “cast spells” for Apple’s success, the company’s enduring primacy has certainly seemed magical to many. And Gates, for his part, seems quite mesmerized by Jobs to this day.