Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has remained immersed in technology while also pursuing divergent interests since his 1985 departure from the revolutionary company he started with the late Steve Jobs.
Wozniak's side projects have included competing on Dancing With The Stars in 2009 and a guest appearance on Big Bang Theory during its fourth season. Now he is participating in an online video show called Unicorn Hunters that assesses ideas from entrepreneurs vying to build startups potentially worth $1 billion or more. Wozniak sits on a panel of judges that includes former US Treasurer Rosie Rios and NSYNC singer Lance Bass.
Wozniak, 71, plans to return for a second season of Unicorn Hunters. He recently discussed the show and technology landscape with The Associated Press.
Q: What attracted you to Unicorn Hunters?
A: I am kind of surprised because I am not really in the financial community as much as the technical community, but the call really came from a good friend that I trust a lot. And she's a good producer that even got me on Dancing With The Stars, one of the most fun things you could ever do. What intrigues me (about Unicorn Hunters) are the interesting new things that other people don't even know about.
Q: What do you think of the current state in technology?
A: I think a lot has been going on that really enhances your life. Over the last decade, look at the internet of things, the cameras we put in our house, the Ring doorbells, the different locking systems, and controlling your lights, and speaking to the personal assistants like Siri or Alexa.
Q: Do you think the recent conviction of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes will change the culture of Silicon Valley?
A: I am not so much totally down on her, like she is a criminal. I never have been. I thought when you start up a company, and you are out there trying to do something good, and maybe you run into technical difficulties, sometimes the impossible turns out to be impossible. And, oh my gosh, I could understand how she would have to start just kind of covering it up just to keep the company going to have a chance to do some good. And I can see it from that angle. It's not right to deceive and lie knowingly. But I think she was really just trying to do something good. If she was motivated too much by money, then she's not my type.
To get the passion, the drive, the idea should do so much good for the world, and it should not be driven by money. Too many people just think, “I will get into this entrepreneurship thing and once I start one company, I can afford a house in San Francisco, (then) I will do my next company and my next company." And it's just a formula to make money. I don't like that, that's not the way I was.
Q: Did you and Steve Jobs ever feel like you had to stretch the truth during Apple's early days?
A: No. Everything was gold and our Apple II computer (released in 1977) was so far ahead of the competition in years that we had no worry. We were so far ahead of what other people were trying to do, they were trying to do something I had already done five years before.
Q: How do you assess the startup pitches on Unicorn Hunters?
A: I try to think, when you are judging them, “What if Apple was up there making a pitch in the earliest days?" And it would seem, “So, whoa, this idea will go somewhere," but the big computer companies don't even really believe in it. How would you spot those Apples when they are right in front of you?
Q: What do you think are the most interesting trends in technology?
A: There is always the latest fad. The internet of things was a big fad, and turned out a lot of great companies. And then they kind of consolidated. I like it when it's open to investment, when it's open to all kinds of people with great ideas, just out of universities and want to have a startup. I am interested in that.
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