Scott Forstall at Code BreakSource: Code.org

What you need to know

  • Scott Forstall has revealed how he came to accept a job offer from Steve Jobs and NeXT, before the two went to Apple.
  • He spoke about the intense interview process with Steve Jobs, who just kept peppering him with questions.
  • After turning down a simultaneous job offer from Microsoft, a dead fish wound up on his doorstep.

Scott Forstall has revealed the incredibly bizarre story of how he interviewed with Steve Jobs and NeXT, and how he came to work for the company.

Speaking at the ongoing Code.org's virtual code break event, Forstall spoke to Code.org's co-founder Hadi Partovi and his daughter Sofia. The events are taking place every Wednesday at 10am PST. In the latest episode, which aired on YouTube May 20, Partovi spoke to Forstall about the incredible story of how he was hired by Steve Jobs, who had started NeXT after leaving Apple. Forstall joined NeXT in 1992 before both he and Jobs went to Apple in 1997. Around 35 minutes in Forstall talks about how he was looking at Microsoft and NeXT as prospective career paths.

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He spoke about an "intense interview" at NeXT that lasted an entire day, and involved him speaking to 17 different people. But, 10 minutes into the first interview, Steve Jobs hijacked proceedings, lambasting the first interviewer outside before taking over himself. Jobs started "peppering" Forstall with "question after question," but Forstall says that after about 15 minutes the two really clicked over design and more. Eventually, Forstall said that Jobs stopped, looked at him and said "I know you have to interview for the rest of the day, I dont' care what anyone says, at the end of the day I'm giving you an offer. But please, pretend you're interested in everyone's questions." Jobs also told Forstall, "I'm sure you're going to accept this offer."

Microsoft's bizarre cameo comes because they had already made Forstall an offer. So Scott, intent on joining NeXT, called to turn it down. Then, this happened:

The next day, when I woke up and opened the door to my apartment, there was a box outside. I opened it up, and there was a dead fish. It was this huge dead fish. I looked at the box and it had a return address, Microsoft. This seemed like a threat...

Forstall called his contact at Microsoft, noting how he'd watched movies with the mafia, and asked what message Microsoft was trying to send. Turns out, they just wanted to convince Forstall to join Microsoft in Seattle by buying him the biggest king Salmon they could find, packing it in ice and overnighting it to him, presumably to try and convince him that there were no fish in the bay area that good.

Forstall barbecued the fish that night, ate it, then went to work with Steve Jobs at NeXT.

You can see the full interview below.

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