The entrepreneur who lied to Steve Jobs and lost the business of his life
"You're full of shit. We're done," was the Apple co-founder's reply to Ali Parvoti's pitch.
"Fake it 'till you make it" is a phrase widely heard in Silicon Valley for entrepreneurs who are starting and approach investors to convince them to participate in their idea or even sell their business .
However, believing yourself more than you really are can be very counterproductive and even miss out on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
This was narrated by Ali Partovi , who in 2008 was the CEO of iLike, a startup that had aroused the interest of Apple . The entrepreneur took advantage of the fact that last week the apple company celebrated the life of Steve Jobs to remember the occasion when he lied to the co-founder of the Cupertino company and lost the opportunity of a life.
Through a Twitter thread , Partovi narrated that at that time his company iLike offered integration between Facebook, iTunes and Windows Media Player and gave recommendations to users. It was so popular that at that time it accumulated 60 million Internet users.
As the world celebrated Steve Jobs's life last week, I recalled a lesson he taught me. My one meeting with Steve didn't end well. It's one of my most painful memories, and a warning to startup CEOs about the danger of taking hype too far. Here's the story. (1 / n)- Ali Partovi (@apartovi) October 10, 2021
On Twitter, Partovi says that success sparked Apple's interest at a time when they were under a lot of pressure from record companies and Facebook. Then there was the meeting between the three co-founders of iLike and Eddy Cue and Steve Jobs of Apple.
Overall the pitch seemed to be successful. Even Jobs stated: “I like them. They have good arguments. It seems like they would be a good fit for Apple. I want to buy your company. I'll let Eddy clarify the details with you. "
And in that moment, everything went to hell.
"I know we are worth 3 times more than that"
At the time, Partovi asked Jobs what the range of money they were considering was.
At this point, I impetuously asked, "before you go, can we discuss what range you're considering?" This was a rookie move. I wish my mistakes had ended there. There was worse to come. / 7- Ali Partovi (@apartovi) October 10, 2021
“This was a rookie move. I wish my mistakes had ended there. The worst was yet to come ”, says the entrepreneur on his Twitter.
Jobs asked him “What is your income? What was your last assessment? Partovi heard that Apple would pay them the same figure that they had reported a few years ago, which meant they had not created new value. He told Jobs that his investors would not accept that deal to which the Apple co-founder told him that they would take care of that.
Then Partovi made the mistake of his life:
And then, my terrible mistake, a moment that I've regretted ever since: "Actually, I * know * we're worth three times as much." / 14- Ali Partovi (@apartovi) October 10, 2021
He said, “Steve, I think we are worth at least three times that. What's more, I know that we are worth three times that amount ”.
Jobs was furious and replied bluntly: “You say you know you are worth more? Do you have another offer? Shit, you're lying to me. You are full of shit. We're done". The Apple co-founder got up from the table and left the boardroom, leaving Eddy Cue explaining.
There, the iLike opportunity is over. Cue tried to keep the bargain for a smaller sum, but Jobs was no longer interested. Shortly after Apple released the Genius bar for iTunes and Facebook which had similar functionalities to iLike.
The difference between "knowing" and "believing"
You ask yourself "What was the lie that made Steve Jobs angry?"
Partovi answers it on Twitter with the clarity that the years after an experience give: "the difference between believing and knowing what your company is worth comes down to one thing ... real figures."
At one point, in a later call, Steve told him point blank, "You are a liar and I don't trust anything you say."
I don't remember what exactly happened next. It's all a blur. Steve left the room. My cofounders and I mumbled through the next few minutes with Eddy. We must have left soon after. All I remember is that I'd ruined everything and let down our whole team. / 17- Ali Partovi (@apartovi) October 10, 2021
“The hard truth is, I can't blame him: trust can be ruined with a single word and it's not easy to rebuild.
“Never exaggerate your value when negotiating a big deal - especially not against a stronger player. There are ways to be a strong negotiator without lying. "
Never overplay your hand when negotiating a major deal - especially not against a stronger player. There are ways to be a strong negotiator without lying. / 22- Ali Partovi (@apartovi) October 10, 2021
A year after the encounter with Apple, Partovi and his partners sold their company at a loss.
The entrepreneur dusted himself off and later founded Neo , a community of mentors and a venture capital fund that brings together tech veterans to accelerate the leaders of tomorrow. He is also a co-founder of Code.org , a center for programming courses for young people around the world.
Steve Jobs taught me to be paranoid about the fine line between hype and lies: it can be as subtle as a word. If you cross that line, you can destroy yourself. I am grateful to him for this lesson ”.