A late-night security meeting at Apple’s headquarters was at first interrupted by two male restaurant patrons, who told the engineers on the dais they had seen David Copperfield perform a feat of magic on them.
The troupe had helped the iPhone maker regain its swagger since CEO Tim Cook said last month that the product he and co-founder Steve Jobs would have mocked had they been around today, a human-centered design that could cater to the personal whims of its users.
Mr Cook noted that if the duo had been on stage as he unveiled the latest iPhone XS and XS Max, they may have followed the job of a guy at Microsoft’s campus who had persuaded his coworkers to watch a video of a frog in red sneakers at a talent show. “We’re most different today because of the innovations that I was introduced to as a kid at Pixar, people with the different gifts of mind and skill and talent and imagination, not only of curiosity and curiosity itself,” Mr Cook said in his valedictory, shown Thursday on Netflix. “Not just the instantaneous innovation.”
The remarks underscore the contrast between how the two Silicon Valley giants sometimes handle talent. While in the Apple v. Microsoft debate, Apple is considered the underdog – and about half of the 1,500 stores its stores have worldwide are in China, which covets Apple’s cachet among young consumers – it is better known for attracting people with genuinely creative skills, such as the people at Pixar and Pixar’s parent company Walt Disney Co. Those employees, some of whom do not even need to commute to work, found a home at the company.
At Microsoft, meanwhile, efforts to recruit engineering talent in recent years have focused instead on computer programmers – which may not seem so intuitive. Microsoft plans to spend US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) on a push to “grow a bridge” between its Seattle headquarters and metro Portland, Oregon, to tackle a shortage of workers with programming skills.
Microsoft has closed a Silicon Valley office and recruited several teachers at Google-owned K12, which offers online coursework in science, technology, engineering and math. More recently, the company hired so-called backpackers – people who drive a Subaru and fill it with office supplies, which they call “Seatbelts of Adventure” – to visit campuses across the country. Microsoft spent the last three years researching the culture of student-oriented places such as Amazon’s Virginia headquarters and YouTube’s Santa Monica headquarters. “It’s not building product until we really like the people,” Ms Michele Chacko, chief people officer at Microsoft, said.
– Los Angeles Times