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How John Chambers is portrayed in the Steve Jobs biography

At a famous Silicon Valley dinner with President Obama and Steve Jobs, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made an unflattering remark about Cisco CEO John Chambers.

Tue, 1/3/12 - 11:59pm    View comments

John Chambers dinner with Steve Jobs, President Obama and Mark Zuckerberg

Walter Isaacson has authored a fascinating biography about Steve Jobs. Interestingly, Cisco CEO John Chambers is mentioned briefly on pages 545-546, as shown in the below book excerpt:

In February 2011, Doerr began making plans to host a small dinner for President Obama in Silicon Valley. He and Jobs, along with their wives, went to dinner at Evvia, a Greek restaurant in Palo Alto, to draw up a tight guest list. The dozen chosen tech titans included Google's Eric Schmidt, Yahoo's Carol Bartz, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Cisco's John Chambers, Oracle's Larry Ellison, Genetech's Art Levinson, and Netflix's Reed Hastings... Because Jobs had lost so much weight that he was easily chilled, Doerr kept the house so warm that Zuckerberg found himself sweating profusely.

Jobs, sitting next to the president, kicked off the dinner by saying, "Regardless of our political persuasions, I want you to know that we're here to do whatever you ask to help our country." Despite that, the dinner initially became a litany of suggestions of what the president could do for the businesses there. Chambers, for example, pushed a proposal for a repatriation tax holiday that would allow major corporations to avoid tax payments on overseas profits if they brought them back to the United States for investment during a certain period. The president was annoyed, and so was Zuckerberg, who turned to Valerie Jarrett, sitting to his right, and whispered, "We should be talking about what's important to the country. Why is he just talking about what's good for him?"

Doerr was able to refocus the discussion by calling on everyone to suggest a list of action items. When Job's turn came, he stressed the need for more trained engineers and suggested that any foreign student who earned an engineering degree in the United States should be given a visa to stay in the country.


Personally, I'm blown away by the fact that out of the 15 dinner guests, 3 were sitting Cisco board directors, former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, Stanford University President John L. Hennessy and of course Chambers.

What's your take?

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