While Apple says it cares for every worker in its Chinese “No, they are not sweatshops” partner’s factories, life in Cupertino is not particularly good either.
According to a new book based on interviews by oompa loompas working at Willy Wonka’s factory, life at One Infinite Loop is like being in a crazed brainwashed cult where everyone is working in a culture of fear.
Adam Lashinsky, who penned the book “Inside Apple”, said that Apple is a “glut of windowless offices, a neutering of egos and an ethos of fear with cultish overtones”.
Lashinsky said that Apple does not talk about itself, just about its products. There is an illusion that it has a free-spirited workforce creatively sitting around on beanbags.
But Lashinsky said that the only person who was allowed to have a public ego was Steve Jobs. Everyone else had to leave their egos at the door.
It is tough and demanding. It’s not a particularly happy place but it breeds people who can thrive in that environment. It’s a pressure cooker and some people like that, he said.
But really, the oompa loompas are just pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, and the only person who knows how to fit the pieces together is the CEO.
The outfit is so clandestine its own workers don’t know what they are creating.
There are lock-down rooms which are the only places where the next iPad or iPhone can be discussed, and even then, senior vice presidents only enter the room to discuss their part in a design before being asked to leave.
Anyone caught revealing Apple secrets, whether accidental or intentional, is dealt with swiftly – immediate termination from the company.
Only 100 people, hand-picked by Steve Jobs, actually know what is going on in Apple. When a new product is launched, staff are amazed to see what they have created.
One employee told him how he had nightmares over threats made to employees about breaching confidentiality.
Jobs told one group that if anything leaked from the meeting, Apple would not just just fire the employee, but would release the legal hounds and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.
Even if staff members leave, they live in fear of retribution, Mr Lashinsky said.
Jobs’ brutal method of dealing with subordinates legitimised a frighteningly harsh, bullying, and demanding culture at Apple. Under Jobs, a culture of fear and intimidation found roots throughout the organisation, Mr Lashinsky wrote.
In a somewhat scary indictment of humanity, Lashinsky said that Apple’s draconian treatment of its workforce is actually part of its formula for success. Staff became loyal and protected the products.