Steve Jobs Biography: Jobs Warned Obama He'd Have 'One-Term Presidency'

Walter Isaacson's biography shows Jobs as intense, easily angered.

ByABC News
October 21, 2011, 9:29 AM

Oct. 21, 2011 — -- Steve Jobs, the inventive and often strong-willed co-founder of Apple, warned Barack Obama, "You're headed for a one-term presidency" during a frank 45-minute meeting last year -- a meeting Jobs at first refused to attend.

Jobs' confrontation with the president is one of many details reported by Walter Isaacson, whose 630-page authorized biography, "Steve Jobs," is scheduled for release Monday. Isaacson is scheduled to give his first live interview Monday on "Good Morning America."

Isaacson's book is being held closely by its publisher, Simon & Schuster, but copies have already been found by various news organizations.

Isaacson writes that Jobs was irritated when his wife, Laurene Powell, helped arrange the meeting with Obama at a hotel at the San Francisco airport. The president, she said, was "really psyched to meet you." Then he should personally ask, replied an angry Jobs. The standoff lasted five days before the meeting was set.

When Jobs finally relented, he did not hold back. He told Obama that the United States needed to become more business-friendly if it did not want to lose its edge. He talked about how much easier it was to build a factory in China than in the U.S., where there were too many regulations and needless costs. And he complained about the U.S. education system, saying unions protected bad teachers and kept principals from hiring good ones.

'Willing to Go Thermonuclear'

Isaacson paints a picture of Jobs as curious, creative, sometimes very sensitive -- but also exacting, driven and quick to anger. It's been public, for instance, that Apple had a contentious relationship with Google when Android smartphones began to compete with Apple's iPhone -- but Isaacson quotes Jobs as accusing Google of "grand theft" when Android software appeared to him to copy Apple's.

"I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this," he told Isaacson after Apple sued the smartphone manufacturer HTC, which uses the Android system.

"Our lawsuit is saying, 'Google, you f---ing ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off,'" Isaacson quotes Jobs as saying. "I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product."

By that time in his career, Jobs was already a billionaire, a man who had helped transform computing, communications, the music industry, even the business of animation for movies.

But he could also be thrown. In 2010, after a tepid first reaction to the new iPad, he confessed to Isaacson, "I kind of got depressed today. It knocks you back a bit."

Jobs was fighting for his life. First diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2003, he put off surgery for nine months, hoping acupuncture and herbal remedies would save him instead. He finally gave in -- and doctors contacted by ABC News say they cannot be sure the delay hastened his death -- but needed a liver transplant in 2009 as the cancer spread.

He had first called Isaacson in 2004 to suggest he write a biography; now he called again. Isaacson says Jobs set no limits on what could be written about him.

"I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of," Isaacson quotes Jobs as saying. "But I don't have any skeletons in my closet that can't be allowed out."