So I was at my men-only sweat yoga class in Palo Alto yesterday with Larry and in walks Eric Schmidt with his mat under his arm. We start giving him shit about the alternative energy thing again and all these other crazy ideas they’re spitballing over at Google. Afterward we were out having smoothies and Eric says, “Look, it’s like this. We’re in this phase of our history where we need to try lots of different new things. I call it blindfolded basketball. You put ten guys, or maybe a hundred guys, or maybe a thousand guys, out on a basketball court. They’re all wearing blindfolds. You tell them to keep throwing up shots until one of them, by some miracle, finds the net.”
I was like, Eric, are you fucking kidding me? This is how you run a company? Seriously? You just let these idiots run around wild, firing away until something works? He swears it’s true. He says he learned this at Sun, but that Sun didn’t invent it. McNealy got it from Gates. Which figures. Somehow I knew there was a connection to Gates on this one.
Eric says it’s a tried-and-true tech industry thing. You have a big hit with phase one, and then you plow your obscene profits into all sorts of new ventures as fast as you can. Doesn’t matter how crazy they might seem. It’s like creating an artificial version of evolution in a controlled environment where you can turbo-charge the process and force things to grow and change and evolve at a hyper-fast pace.
Naturally I told Eric that this whole concept is total shit. But if you think about it I guess we use a version of blindfolded basketball at Apple. Difference is, we only put one guy on the court — me. And I never miss. I walk out to center court, pick up the basketball, stand there for about thirty minutes contemplating what I’m going to do, envisioning the shot, and then whoosh — up it goes, in a pefect arc, and there’s nothing but net. All of Apple’s employees, sitting in the stands, burst into wild raging applause. Better yet, I can do this over and over and over again, day in and day out. I’m like Kwai Chang friggin Caine, I swear to God. Or Steve Austin. Hell, I’m badder than Shaft, Superfly, James Bond and Kung Fu all put together, as Arlo Guthrie once said. Think about it. iPod. iPhone. OS X. Boom. Boom. Boom. And don’t even mention the goddamn Newton, because that POS was not mine.