Stop asking Steve Wozniak what the next big tech thing is

Steve Wozniak speaking to media at PayPal’s Innovation Hub in Singapore (Image courtesy: Tech in Asia)
Steve Wozniak was in Singapore yesterday. He came for PayPal’s Fintech Xchange event — a day-long shindig meant to draw attention to the work PayPal is doing with local start-ups.

Naturally, people pay attention when he talks.

Whether he says anything of note, however, is another question.

The right questions

Case in point, during a media roundtable yesterday, journalists asked him about everything from Apple’s business strategy on self-driving cars to the future of smartphones to his favourite gadgets.

While he did his best to answer those questions, his answers were generic, safe, mostly harmless.

It’s not that his replies are wrong or non-intelligent. It’s that they are so, so vanilla. 

And why should we expect him to have some unique insight into what’s going on at Apple now, as if he’s privy to some honorary internal newsletter?

Building on the past

For people in the tech business, he’s a totem. 

But are the five gadgets he can’t live without really going to be of value to you? Isn’t it much more valuable to try and figure out what this guy has learnt from all these years in the trenches?

Luckily, he had more interesting things to share during his fireside chat with PayPal senior VP of Asia-Pacific, Rohan Mahadevan. It was there that he highlighted the real value of industry figures like him.

His advice to people starting tech companies now? “Don’t overlook the engineering, and don’t just be someone out of business school,” he said. “[For a successful company], you need a business person to bring in the revenue, an engineer to innovate, to create cool products, and a marketing person who knows how to make the product compelling.”

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