What It Was Like To Hang With Tech's Biggest Stars During The Golden Days Of Silicon Valley


Storehouse sj photos (single use)


Excerpted from the book Fearless Genius: The Digital Revolution in Silicon Valley 1985-2000 by Doug Menuez, Atria Books. Foreword by Elliott Erwitt, Introduction by Kurt Andersen.

Steve Jobs rides a school bus with NeXT employees in 1987.

Complimentary Tech Event
Transform talent with learning that works
Capability development is critical for businesses who want to push the envelope of innovation.Discover how business leaders are strategizing around building talent capabilities and empowering employee transformation.Know More
The 1980s and 1990s were a pivotal time for innovation in Silicon Valley. In 1981, shortly after Apple released the Apple 1, IBM introduced the first PC. A few years later, the World Wide Web would be born.

Documentary photographer Doug Menuez happened to be in Silicon Valley at the time. He had done freelance work with major publications like Fortune and TIME, but he found that tech companies were difficult to crack.

"I would go to Silicon Valley occasionally, and it was terrible. There was this massive PR bubble keeping you from getting any access," Menuez told Business Insider. "You knew these people were going to change the world, but no one knew anything about them."


In 1985, shortly after Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple, Menuez asked if he could document the Apple founder's new venture, a personal computing company he called NeXT.

To his surprise, Jobs agreed.

"He knew he was a historical figure," Menuez said. "I just showed up at the right place at the right time."

Menuez spent the next three years documenting what was happening inside the young company. Life magazine would underwrite and publish the photos.

"At NeXT, they were constantly hiring absolutely brilliant people. Steve was constantly challenging, prodding people to work above their abilities," Menuez said. "Steve had a lot at risk here. The stakes were high. He wanted revenge. He was becoming a symbol of a whole new generation coming into the Valley."


Once word got out that the notoriously private Jobs had granted Menuez access to his fledgling company, other Silicon Valley leaders followed suit. Over the next 15 years, Menuez would spend time photographing intimate scenes at some of the most influential tech companies in the world.

Menuez has assembled his work from that period in a book called "Fearless Genius: The Digital Revolution in Silicon Valley," which Atria Books published in June.

"Fearless Genius" features stark, black-and-white photos that capture influential personalities.

In 1990, Menuez photographed then-Apple CEO John Sculley before a press event in 1990. Sculley was shy, and he seemed withdrawn to reporters.

"After forcing Steve out, John grew Apple from $800 million to $8 billion a year in revenue," Menuez wrote in the below photo's caption. "Despite this significant achievement, he was often dismissed in the Valley as the man who fired Steve and, unfairly, as a technology lightweight without vision."