'You're getting nothing': Steve Jobs' daughter wrote a heartbreaking memoir about their often brutal relationship

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Lisa Brennan JobsWikimedia CommonsLisa Brennan-Jobs.

  • Lisa Brennan-Jobs, daughter of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, published an excerpt from her upcoming book that deals with her difficult relationship with her father.
  • The chapter, carried by Vanity Fair, covers some heartbreaking incidents, such as his denying paternity and refusing child-support payouts.
  • Brennan-Jobs outlines her sense of alienation from her father, and her childhood wish of having a normal relationship with him.
  • The new, rare portrait of Jobs adds more nuance to portrayals of him as a visionary CEO, showing that he could be cruel in his personal life.


Lisa Brennan-Jobs, daughter of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, has published an excerpt from her upcoming memoir "Small Fry" - and it contains heartbreaking details about her difficult relationship with her father.

This is the first time Brennan-Jobs has written in depth about her father, who initially denied paternity and refused to pay child support payments to her mother Chrisann Brennan. Jobs died in 2011 aged 56 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The excerpt, published in Vanity Fair's September issue, opens with a literary rendering of Steve Jobs' final days, presided over by a Buddhist monk who instructed a visiting Lisa to "touch his feet." Jobs converted to Buddhism at a young age.

Brennan-Jobs describes visiting her sick father every weekend, and trying to fit in around her stepmother Laurene Powell and her three half-siblings.

laurene jobs and steve jobsDiana Walker / Contour by Getty ImagesLaurene Powell and Steve Jobs.

She wrote: "I had given up on the possibility of a grand reconciliation, the kind in the movies, but I kept coming anyway."

The excerpt also deals with Jobs turning up to his daughter's birth in 1978 and denying paternity until the district attorney of San Mateo County, California forced him to take a test and to cough up child support.

In one telling detail, Brennan-Jobs outlines how Jobs' lawyers insisted on finalising child support payouts and other payments on December 8, 1980. Four days later, Apple would IPO and Jobs would become immensely wealthy.

She also recalled believing that her father replaced his Porsche every time it had a scratch, and asking if she could have his current model when he got rid of it.

"You're not getting anything," he responded. "You understand? Nothing. You're getting nothing."

Brennan-Jobs added that her father had not been "generous with money, or food, or words."

The excerpt is shot with Brennan-Jobs' childhood sense that she didn't have a normal relationship with her father, and simply wanting to be closer to him.

She wrote: "For him, I was a blot on a spectacular ascent, as our story did not fit with the narrative of greatness and virtue he might have wanted for himself. My existence ruined his streak. For me, it was the opposite: The closer I was to him, the less I would feel ashamed; he was part of the world, and he would accelerate me into the light."

She uses the Apple Lisa, the failed precursor to the Macintosh, as a metaphor for her attempts to belong to her father.

Apple LisaFlickr/Frank FujimotoApple Lisa.

"Was it named after me?" she asked her father at one point.

"Nope. Sorry kid," he responded.

But in a sign of their changing relationship, she recalls a later episode where Jobs invited her on holiday with the whole family - and took them all to visit his friend, U2 frontman Bono.

Bono repeated Lisa's question, asking Jobs if he named the Lisa after his daughter. This time, he responds with: "Yup."

You can read the full extract at Vanity Fair here.

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