The Ugly Truth About Who Steve Jobs Actually Was

Steve Jobs with MacBook Air In 2008

Steve Jobs is the infamous founder of Apple, one of the largest tech companies in the world. He was the mastermind behind the invention of iPod, iPhone, MacBook, iPad, and iMac products. Steve Jobs also invented a lot of his public image, hiding his dark side from the world. He was a visionary inventor who contributed greatly to the advancement of technology, but he was also narcissistic, cruel, and unethical.

Those close to Steve Jobs recalled that he would often say that he didn’t plan to live past 50. He had a “live fast, die young” attitude. On October 5, 2011, he passed away from cancer at the age of 56. Steve Jobs is looked up to by many for the successful technology business that he built, but after learning these shocking true facts about who Steve Jobs actually was you might think twice before calling him a role model.

Steve Jobs Was a Mean Boss

Steve Jobs and Macintosh computer January 1984 by Bernard Gotfryd edited
Steve Jobs and Macintosh computer (1984) by Bernard Gotfryd

People who worked closely under Steve Jobs in the early years of Apple reported that he would often yell and storm around the office intimidating the employees. Many of his employees were terrified of getting on his bad side. Steve Jobs always spoke his mind harshly and he rarely, if ever, apologized for what he said. He had a steady turnover of employees because he would push people too far. He would sometimes cry and stomp his feet when he didn’t get his way.


Multiple people have went on the record saying that Steve Jobs was not the world’s best manager. He was described as being very, very mean at times. It wasn’t just his employees that he was mean to either. He would use the same abrasive tone to tell people exactly what they were doing wrong, no matter who they were.

Steve Jobs didn’t apologize for how he spoke to people, as he said he would not apologize for demanding perfection. As the company grew, Steve Jobs began to be crueler to those around him. His temper didn’t just extend to those at the company, he also alienated the people close to him.

He had poor communication skills and would rudely interrupt others in business meetings. Case studies of his business conversations showed that he would fail to communicate an idea effectively, and then blame the other person for not understanding what he meant.


Steve Jobs Was An Absent Father

Lisa Brennan Jobs
Lisa Brennan-Jobs by Lisa Brennan-Jobs, licensed under (CC BY 3.0)

Steve Jobs initially denied being the father of his first daughter Lisa. He even went as far as to publicly state that 28% of the male population could be the girl’s father. Talking badly about his child’s mother, Chrisann Brennan, hurt Steve Jobs’s reputation in the long run.

Apple was just beginning to take off when Brennan told him she was pregnant. He responded by refusing to talk to her and only communicating through his lawyer. Although he denied paternity until a DNA test was done, he also made sure that she did not have an abortion or give the baby up for adoption.

His young daughter and the mother of his child were at one point living off of welfare in a $225 a month apartment. Steve Jobs was absent for the early years of his daughter’s life but began to contribute more as she got older.


He Took Perfectionism to the Extreme

Medvedev and Steve Jobs
Medvedev and Steve Jobs by Presidential Press and Information Office, licensed under (CC BY 4.0)

Steve Jobs was such a perfectionist that he lived in an empty house rather than buy furniture that was not just right. In Steve Jobs’s world, it was his way or the highway. He did not think twice about firing someone, although this changed a little bit as he got older and became more of a family man. Once he had children of his own, he could see how getting fired might hurt the whole family of an employee and he relaxed a little bit.

He frustrated and alienated potential business allies in his career with his extreme perfectionism. Most people would have found Steve Jobs to be a difficult person to work with. He would often humiliate those who failed to meet up to his high standards. On the other hand, he had difficulty admitting any failure on his own part.

He Had a Disgusting Habit

1599px Steve Jobs Headshot 2010
Steve Jobs Headshot 2010 by Matthew Yohe, licensed under (CC BY-SA 3.0)

One of the most bizarre little-known facts about who Steve Jobs actually was, is that he used to put his feet in toilets. This was meant to help him relieve stress. During the early days of Apple when tensions were high, Steve Jobs would head to the company toilets to soak his feet in the toilet bowls.


He was rumored to have poor hygiene as well, sometimes coming to work without showering and barefoot. Steve Jobs believed that the rules did not apply to him and apparently that went for cleanliness as well. Before he founded Apple, his previous job assigned him to the night shift because of his bad hygiene.

Apple Employees Committed Suicide

Electronics factory in Shenzhen
Electronics factory in Shenzhen by Steve Jurvetson, licensed under (CC BY 2.0)

There were so many suicides at the Apple manufacturing plant in China that they were forced to install nets to catch people throwing themselves off the roof. In total, there were 18 attempts and 14 deaths in 2010. What stood out about these suicides was that they all chose to do it at work, rather than at home. This leads many to conclude that the workers chose this method of suicide because the poor work conditions contributed to their depression.

The image of nets to keep the workers from killing themselves sent a strong message to consumers in the West and hurt Apple’s reputation. Workers in these kinds of factories in China often live in tiny dorms and work for long shifts standing up with no breaks. There have been multiple cases of deadly explosions and poisonings happening at Apple factories in China as well. Perhaps worst of all of the accusations is that young teenagers have been seen working long hours in dangerous factories making Apple devices.


Shady Business At Apple

1600px IPhone XS
iPhone XS by Cullen Steber, licensed under (CC BY-SA 4.0)

After Steve Jobs’s death, more of his shady business dealings began to come to public light. The new CEO did a thorough audit of the overseas factories and exposed how the manufacturers were overworking and underpaying their employees in China. When Apple’s finances were audited by the Senate, they found that they only paid 2% income tax by funneling their income into overseas accounts. In other words, tax evasion.

The source of some of the minerals used in the production of Apple’s electronics has also been questioned. There have been rumors of the use of “blood minerals” from mines in the Congo being used in manufacturing.

All companies have secrets. The difference is that at Apple everything is a secret.

-Adam Lashinsky

Another interesting fact about how Steve Jobs vetted his employees is by assigning them to a completely made-up task. That way, if the fake project was leaked, they would know exactly who did it. This is how Apple makes sure that its employees can be trusted with their many company secrets.


The overall environment that Steve Jobs created at Apple was not a pleasant one. He was intimidating, secretive, and distrusted everyone. This set the tone for the company’s toxic culture.

He Didn’t Believe In Charity

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates 522695099
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates by Joi Ito, licensed under (CC BY 2.0)

Steve Jobs was not a charitable individual. His attitude towards business and life was that capitalist greed was a good thing. He likely knew about the conditions of the workers at Apple’s Chinese factories and chose to ignore it for profits because that was the kind of person that Steve Jobs actually was. In one incident in Wuhan, China the workers threatened to commit mass suicide if they were not given better working conditions.

“Stay foolish, stay hungry”

-Steve Jobs

For someone who didn’t like to give, Steve Jobs sure did like to take. Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy and would have closed down for good if it were not for a 150 million dollar investment from a close friend of Steve Jobs, Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Despite having one of the largest companies in the world, Steve Jobs never made any notable contributions to charity.


Steve Jobs Early Life

A lot of Steve Jobs’s negative behaviors can be chalked up to insecurity stemming from a childhood of being bullied for being a scrawny, nerdy kid. He was also bullied for being adopted. Even as an adult Steve Jobs remembered the pain of being taunted about being put up for adoption by his birth mother.

Steve Jobs’s birth mother was a graduate student and her parents did not approve of Steve Jobs’s Syrian biological father. She opted to put the baby up for adoption. Paul and Clara Jobs were a normal, working-class couple that adopted and raised the young inventor.

During Steve Jobs’s “terrible twos” phase of being a toddler, his adopted mother admitted she wondered if she had made a mistake by adopting him. She has said that he was a difficult and temperamental child who got into trouble at school and at home. His adopted parents were not well-off financially either, which Steve Jobs felt the impact of in his childhood. This could have been the root of his greed. By the time he died, he had accumulated a net worth of $10 billion.


Steve Jobs’s Strange Legacy

1600px Apple Store London Regent Street after death of Steve Jobs
Apple Store London Regent Street after death of Steve Jobs by Yamen, licensed under (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Steve Jobs changed the world through his work at Apple. There have been efforts to re-brand him as a role model, but the truth about who Steve Jobs actually was still remained. According to the people who knew him, he wasn’t the best boss, husband, or father when he was alive.

We’re here to put a dent in the Universe. Otherwise why would we even be here?

– Steve Jobs

He took credit for a lot of other people’s ideas and he never used his extreme wealth to give back. Since his death, Apple has yet to come out with any truly groundbreaking new products.