Chief executive officers are not often the recipients of worldwide mourning. Women and men of great power and wealth in the business world sometimes are celebrities, but it’s rare for them to be adored, admired or even considered decent by the average human being. Their companies are their public faces, as it often should be. The chief executive’s job is, after all, about making their company an industry leader and economic force.
But Steve Jobs was hardly just a CEO. The man was very much the face of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), but he was far more — an icon of technological ingenuity and a trailblazer in changing the way that human beings consume information, communicate and experience art in the 21st century. It’s no surprise, then, that powerful people have had powerful reactions to his death.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), had a tumultuous relationship with Jobs. In the past decade, the chief technologist at Microsoft watched his company’s domination of the computing industry weaken as Apple released paradigm-shifting products like the iPod, iPhone and the iTunes digital music distribution service. Gates released a statement sharing his condolences with Jobs’ loved ones and meditating on their shared history, describing the experience of working with Jobs as “an insanely great honor.” Given how the two of them changed the world during the past 30 years, even “insanely great” seems like an understatement.
Gates wasn’t the only former collaborator eulogizing Jobs on Thursday morning. John Lasseter of Pixar, the animation studio behind films like Toy Story that Jobs helped found in 1986, released a statement alongside Disney‘s (NYSE:DIS) president of animation, Ed Catmulli. Their statement discussed how Jobs always would influence Pixar’s creative endeavors, that he would “forever be a part of Pixar’s DNA.” They also remembered the simplicity of Jobs’ creative ideals. “The one thing he always said was to simply ‘make it great.'”