Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, is a Silicon Valley icon and one of the world’s most influential serial entrepreneurs. As the opening keynote speaker at MIPIM 2020 – renowned for his love of jokes, and pranks – is not only set to entertain the audience, but also to share his insights into how to build creativity and innovation into a company’s DNA, while at the same time focussing on the human.
Little did Steve Wozniak, otherwise known as Woz, know when he was building computers in a garage in California back in the 1970s that he was inventing the future.
Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, and serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, is one of the most iconic names to have emerged from Silicon Valley – or Santa Clara Valley as it was known before the digital age, when the valley was lined with apricot orchards.
To reflect the MIPIM 2020 theme, the Future is Human, Wozniak joins the stage in Cannes this March as this year’s MIPIM opening keynote speaker. He will share his insights into how to build creativity and encourage innovation by thinking differently – the keys to the future of the real estate industry.
The human face of technology – learning from his father
Not only is Wozniak one of the world’s most creative engineers – or ‘techies’ – but he also “worries a lot about people”, as he writes in his autobiography, iWoz.
His father, an aerospace engineer, taught him that, as an engineer, he could change the world and “change the way of life for lots and lots of people” – change was good, and technology moved the world forward.
“I wanted to put chips together like an artist, better than anyone else could and in a way that would be the absolute most usable by humans”
This is what Wozniak writes about the time when he built his first ‘Cream Soda’ computer in 1971, and also the year when he met fellow Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
The power of Apple – with a mission to improve people’s lives
Wozniak designed and built Apple’s first line of products in the 1970s, Apple 1 – the first personal computer with a screen and keyboard – and Apple II. He also had an influencing force on the design of the Macintosh in the 1980s.
Apple went on to become the world’s biggest company. One billion people currently own around 1.4 billion Apple products. Yet Wozniak’s early ideas for a personal computer were turned down multiple times by HP, where he worked before co-founding Apple.
Apple’s success came down – and still does – to creating products that people wanted, and which improved people’s lives. Apple products were easy to use, elegant in terms of design and integrated. Welcome to the Apple club!
“I thought, this is going to be my passion for life, and I stuck with it”
Although Wozniak helped create the future, he did not so much predict it. “I did not think I would ever have a job designing digital logic or computers because I didn’t think there were [such]jobs. I thought, this is going to be my passion for life, and I stuck with it,” he said in Steve Wozniak’s Formative Moment, a video produced by Reddit and Google Cloud Platform.
Wozniak as serial entrepreneur – the launch of Woz U
Wozniak left Apple in 1985, although he left one foot in the door by staying on as shareholder and employee. He is now one of the world’s most influential serial entrepreneurs. Most recently he launched Woz U, to offer training programmes to bring on the innovators of tomorrow and narrow the skills gap.
His character has also been immortalised in Hollywood, with productions such as Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, where his role is played by Seth Rogen, and which won the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay.
Technology is no longer an option; it integrates the entire value chain of our real estate ecosystem
At MIPIM, Wozniak follows on from Ban Ki-moon, the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, as opening keynote. Ban Ki-moon talked about the role of the real estate sector in shaping the resilient and sustainable cities of the future.
For this year’s opening keynote, expect not only wisdom and insight from one of the world’s most creative technical minds, but also a light-hearted event… Wozniak is well known for his love of jokes, and pranks.
And for those who wonder why an engineer is talking at a real estate event, technology is the future of real estate. Technology is no longer an option; it integrates the entire value chain of our real estate ecosystem.
Top photo by Michael Bulbenko