The fake Steve Jobs speaks out

RCR Wireless News
MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — Dan Lyons, the man behind “The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs,” began his online experiment as the sensational alter ego of Apple Inc.’s CEO mostly because he hated his job at Forbes and was “freaking out” about the future of journalism and his place in it.

“My job sucked. It was so bad,” he said to raucous laughter during a 30-minute keynote here at the Mobile Entertainment Forum conference. “Covering IBM is like sticking your head in a meat grinder every day.”

So Lyons figured why not give this blogging thing a go. “I’m not old enough to retire and I don’t have enough money to retire, so I started freaking out, like really freaking out,” he said. “I thought I better get some online experience.”

What transpired over the next year is the stuff made for TV or the big screen — indeed, Lyons is in talks now to create a film or TV show about his story.

When Lyons’ editors at Forbes rejected his request for a new blog or a job on the dot-com side of the operation, he struck out on his own in his free time.

“I just wanted to learn how to do html,” he explained, adding that he took the site down after six weeks. His uncensored posts made their onto someone else’s site, he brought it back up and before he knew it, 1,000 people were reading his blog regularly.

His site grew to 90,000 unique visits and he’d sold a book all before anyone figured out who this anonymous Steve Jobs wannabe was.

A manhunt quickly got underway, brought on largely by a column from — wait for it — his editor at Forbes who set up a quasi-contest to out the Fake Steve Jobs.

“I’m like, dude I work for you,” Lyons said to a now enthralled audience.

“Finally he started writing to me trying to hire me at Forbes,” he said. “You mean the same assholes that wouldn’t hire me before.”

Then an investment firm that owns half of Forbes began recruiting him for hire. Eventually, he brought it all in-house at Forbes, but not before he got his agent in the mix to negotiate a new arrangement. Soon after, a reporter at The New York Times figured him out and everyone knew the man behind the popular blog that now generates 600,000 visitors.

Sour apple

So why Steve Jobs?

“I imagine Steve Jobs being really mean and just a total (insert expletive here),” he said.

“The blog’s really, really, really offensive and nasty,” he said. “Apple’s never gotten that mad about it, but they don’t have much of a sense of humor about it.”

Taking it to mobile

Now he’s thinking about the next frontier — mobile.

In Japan, three of the top 10 novels last year were typed on cellphones and read on cellphones, he said.

“Writing another book is like the last thing I ever imagine wanting to do right now,” he said, but the idea of a serialized mobile writing venture intrigues him greatly.

“I don’t know where this is going to go but I think it’s going to be huge,” Lyons said. “I think technology can kind of give rise to new content.”

So what does the Fake Steve Jobs think of the iPhone? “I just couldn’t deal with the slow browsing speed of the original iPhone,” he said. “Now I’m waiting to get the 3G iPhone.”

He thinks Google Inc.’s Android platform is a complete mess (he used another word) and digital rights management software is a “pain in the ass.”

“I feel like there’s a really easy way around DRM,” he said. Just buy the CD, rip it and do with it whatever you will. “It’s annoying, but it’s like really easy to get around.”