Sean Parker, the cover subject of our recent Forbes 400 issue, posted a compelling piece on Facebook last night on his hero Steve Jobs. It is a worthwhile read, pasted in full below.
Today is an incredibly sad day for me, and indeed for anyone who considers themselves a technologist or entrepreneur. It is also a sad day for anyone who believes in the value of creativity and the importance of innovation, and for the millions of people who were touched by the creative genius evidenced in the many products and companies created by Steve Jobs throughout his remarkable career. Steve Jobs was the most important technology leader of our era—perhaps even the most important business leader of our era. He was also a unique figure in the world of business and technology, a man who demonstrated—more so than any other—that pure force of will, energy, and creative drive can change the world for the better.
I never had the privilege of meeting Steve Jobs, and this somber fact may be the greatest regret of my entire life. Indeed, for as long as I can remember Steve Jobs has been my personal hero. I grew up with an interest in both technology and aesthetics; admiring Jobs’ work from a distance and dreaming about someday becoming an entrepreneur myself. I was a programmer who thought about the transformational power of technology, and an aspiring product designer who thought about what it meant to create perfect user interfaces. I recall reading about Jobs’ early career, his creative drive, vision, and iconoclastic style. Later on I watched in awe as Jobs regained control of Apple, the company he founded decades earlier, in what may have been the greatest second act in the history of business. He was a revolutionary thinker in the world of technology, a legend to me and to millions of others, and yet in a deeply personal way, he represented exactly the sort of person I always wanted to someday become.
For years I had considered reaching out to Steve Jobs through our various mutual friends. But something always stopped me…for unlike most of the heroes of my childhood, Steve Jobs never underwent the demystification that befalls our idols when we achieve success and begin to recognize the flaws and complex humanity that lay behind the illusions of idolatry. Steve Jobs remained for me a towering figure in the annals of history, one whose genius and sometimes tragic setbacks had been the primary inspiration and guiding light for me in my own career.
In recent weeks I felt a grave sense of urgency: the last idol of my childhood, the one man whose energy, passion, vision, strength of will, and determination in the face of adversity, may not be long for this world. And despite admiring his work from afar, I had never had a chance to meet him, to confide in him that he had been the inspiration for everything I had ever set out to do in my life. Steve Jobs gave me hope that taking the path less traveled could lead to greatness. Hope that someone with clarity of vision and strength of conviction, despite not fitting perfectly within the mold established by other business leaders, could not only be a groundbreaking innovator, but also experience success on an almost unimaginable scale.
Despite never having met, my relationship to this mythical man has been a complex one. It was Napster and the explosion of mp3-encoded music that paved the way for the creation of the iPod over a decade ago. And more recently, one of my companies, Spotify, has been locked in a difficult struggle over the future of music distribution with Apple, one that has pitted the two companies against each other in private negotiations at the highest levels of government and commerce. More than ever, I wanted to tell Steve Jobs that, despite whatever he may have heard about me from our mutual friends and partners at the record labels, it was his life and work alone that had put me on this entrepreneurial path to begin with.
At a time when America had lost its heroes, it was not until today that I lost mine: he was and will always be Steve Jobs.
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