Blog by Russell Stern, CEO, Solarflare
It's been just a few days since Steve Jobs passing. Never in the history of corporate America has there been such a public display of affection for a CEO, let alone CEO of the company with the largest market cap. It feels reminiscent of 9/11, "Where were you when Steve Jobs died?"I was in Italy where the emotion was just as effervescent, countless articles and talking heads analyzing his genius, master marketeering, and relentless consumer advocation. But little is being said about the jobs Jobs created.
Pick up your iPhone, iPad, or iSomething, and you'll read that it was designed in California and manufactured in China. Could it be possible this Pop Gadget Genius was exporting our jobs overseas at the expense of American workers? Maybe. But what Jobs and Apple were actually doing was playing a key role in the transformation of our economy from manufacturing based to information based. Apple's strategy of using low cost foreign labor and the incredible engineering talent in Silicon Valley was a winning formula, one replicated by several high technology industries such as hard disk drives and semiconductors.
Recently, I called in to a radio talk show in response to a previous caller who referred to manufacturing outsourcing leaders as "Evil CEOs". Having been an outsourcer most of my professional career, I thought my head would explode if I heard one more person whine about jobs that we simply cannot afford to do in America and shouldn't try to. The expectations of a line worker in China putting tops on bottoms is not to afford a house, two cars in the garage, and retirement with pension benefits after 20 years on the job. Rather, they rely heavily on family infrastructure, live in small quarters, and struggle to make ends meet. We could argue this is unfair, but the only alternative is to create protectionist policies that will surely create an even further imbalance of trade and lead to greater political unrest.
Surely, It must seem obvious, it was obvious to Steve Jobs. The way for America to compete in a global economy is with knowledge, creativity, and innovation. This is the best of Apple, it was the best of Steve Jobs and it's the best of America. Apple created more, better, higher paying jobs, and paid more corporate taxes as result of their actions and policies.
The irony of the Wall Street protests in the same week that Steve Jobs passed is so thick you can't even cut it with an iKnife. For example, see http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/10/10/protesters-to-flood-loop-to-take-back-chicago/#photo-1 What we should be protesting is why is the U.S. is so far behind in math and science education. Why aren't we putting out more engineers, computer scientists, and related college graduates? This is where China is the greatest threat to our economy, not assembling iPhones.
Steve Jobs was not an Evil CEO. He was a visionary, not just for really cool mobile devices, but for America's future. The path to peace and prosperity is through better education of our youth and a government with a longer term vision to achieve it than the next election cycle.