Moritz Revisits Steve Jobs and Apple

When a person becomes known for one thing, it’s easy to forget that he once did something completely different. Few people remember, for example, that before Babe Ruth was a New York Yankees slugger he was a successful Red Sox pitcher, with 94 wins, 46 losses and a 2.28 earned run average.

So too, it is hard to remember that Michael Moritz was once a journalist for Time and a good writer before he became “the best long-ball hitter around” in his own right.

But if you haven’t had the chance to read Moritz’s work before, you’ll have a chance to pick up a new edition of his 1984 profile of Apple Computer, which is coming out on November 10 from Overlook Press, PEHub has learned.

Moritz’s “Return to the Little Kingdom” will have include “Moritz’s contemporary perspective on the state of Apple and the accomplishments of Steve Jobs in a new Introduction and Epilogue,” according to the publisher. No book signings or tour plans have been set.

I’ve read a fair amount of Moritz’s work and I genuinely like his writing style and the substance of his stories. He has an enviable eye for detail and engaging prose.

My favorite part of his writing is his spot-on descriptions of well-known people.

Of Jobs: “All in all he looked like a filing clerk who spent his days sorting manila folders in the basement of a metropolitan hospital.”

Of Don Valentine: “Valentine was the son of a New York truck driver and a venture capitalist who looked like a weathered version of the frat brother who organized the weekend football pool.”

On the importance of Arthur Rock: “In the mid-seventies a telephone call from Arthur Rock was viewed by other venture capitalists, underwriters, commercial bankers, and stockbrokers as the financial equivalent of white smoke emerging from a Vatican chimney.”

Moritz’s book differs from other Apple tomes by focusing on the pre-public business of the company. It isn’t a hackneyed trotting out of the garage myth, but a serious look at the operations, sales and financing strategy the company pursued to through its period of hyper-growth. There is no better description of the winds, rain and confusion inside Apple’s tornado.

Of particular interest to students of venture capital is the section of the book that cover’s Sequoia Capital’s involvement with Apple. Firm founder Don Valentine is credited with sending over Mike Markkula to the company and then more or less leaving it alone. The actual investment seemed to be the product of a chance meeting:

When Valentine spotted Markkula, Jobs and Hank Smith dining together one evening at Monterey’s Chez Felice Restaurant, he sensed what was being discussed. He dispatched a bottle of wine to the trio with a note reading “Don’t lose sight of the fact that I’m planning on investing in Apple.” There were reservations at Apple about Valentine. Some had formed their own conclusions. Gary Martin said, “It was obvious he was out for the quick turn,” and Sherry Livingston recalled, “We were always wondering what board he was going to join next.”

I have yet to see the revised and expanded version of Moritz’s book, but am told I will receive a review copy in the mail any day and will update you then on specific improvements on the previous text.

Moritz himself was out of the office and not immediately available for comment.

Until then, you can read the original version of the 1984 text: The Little Kingdom: The Private Story of Apple Computer