Mike Moritz returns to 'The Little Kingdom'

The journalist turned venture capitalist talks about his groundbreaking book.

By Michael V. Copeland, senior writer

(Fortune magazine) -- Back in the early '80s, when the Macintosh computer was little more than an idea, Mike Moritz, then a correspondent for Time, had unfettered access to Steve Jobs and a much smaller Apple Computer.

Jobs allowed this rare openness because he was interested in chronicling the development of what he believed would be the first computer with something approaching a soul. The resulting book was "The Little Kingdom: The Private Story of Apple Computer."

Now the book is being rereleased with additional thoughts from Sequoia Capital's Moritz, who has become one of Silicon Valley's leading venture capitalists, backing such winners as Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500), Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), and PayPal, among many others.

Fortune's Michael V. Copeland spoke with Moritz about the young Steve Jobs, what made Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) special from the start, and the common characteristics of extraordinary companies.

Are you two friends? Did he like the book?

No, we are not friends, and I don't know if he liked the book.

What was Jobs' demeanor during the time that the Macintosh was being developed?

He was on a mission. And people who are on a mission and imbued with a sense of purpose are just unstoppable. His responsibility in those days was running the Macintosh division. That was the lens through which I saw him mainly.

Was Apple as secretive then as it is today?

Back in the early '80s things weren't as secretive as they necessarily became later. There was always this joke back then that it was a company that leaked from the top. Those leaks were corked years later -- from the top.

How has Jobs changed since the book was written?

You can never take the boy out of the man. In his youth he developed very worldly interests. He attained an aesthetic sensibility and always had the air of the bohemian poet about him. All of that was very apparent: the music he listened to, the books he read, the political leaders he admired.

He had ferreted out this guy named Hartmut Esslinger, who at that point was one of the best product designers in the world. This was a guy nobody knew in America, and Steve found him in the Black Forest in Bavaria, and he got him working on Apple products.

That was Steve. Steve's got a fabulous eye and a terrific ear. Most people in Silicon Valley or in the consumer electronics business are tone deaf, offkey. Steve has perfect pitch.

How has your study of Jobs and Apple helped you in your job as a venture capitalist?

Extraordinary, rare companies -- like Apple in those first two or three years -- have some common traits. The individuals will be different, the businesses will be different, the decade will be different, but the purpose, the drive, the sense of mission, the intelligence of the founders -- those will be common. If you have been around the start of success, it's far easier to recognize it again. To top of page

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