Travelblog SF48 – 2

So here I am in San Francisco, just up the road from Silicon Valley and the centre of the world's tech industry. And as a result, I find out about Steve Jobs' departure from the front page of a newspaper pushed under my door in the hotel this morning. Oh, the irony.
I guess it is because of the relative age of the industry, but tech firms seem to almost all be focused around totemic founder/leaders. Steve at Apple, Larry at Oracle, Larry, Sergey and Eric at Google, Bill (and now Steve) and Microsoft, Jeff at Amazon, Marc at Salesforce, Mark at Facebook…
I'm not sure that many of them seem to be very nice people. Is being a dictatorial control-freak a prerequisite of building a successful business? (I'm not saying all of the people named above are dictatorial control-freaks, but rumours say that at least a few are). And how could you build a successful business without one (usually) male focal points for leadership?
Even the archetype of collaborative and distributed working, Open Source, has its leaders.
The challenge with totemic leadership is what happens when the leader leaves. Much talk at the moment is focused on what happens to Apple without Steve at the helm. Can a company built to an extent on the cult of a personality survive that personalities departure? From Apple's experience in the 1990s, the answer would appear to be probably not…

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