Ohio Venture - OVA Review Newsletter
News from the Ohio Venture Association meeting on December 9, 2011

Keynote Address:

Bob Longo
School One

In the wake of the recent death of Apple founder Steve Jobs, much of the business and tech community heaped praise on the master innovator, even comparing him to a latter-day Edison. But Bob Longo had a better vantage point than most.

"I had the privilege of working for Steve Jobs three times," School One president Bob Longo told OVA members at their December luncheon. "He was the most unusual CEO. He'd come in and join a team, and hang up his CEO hat, and sit and work with the team as one of them."

But it was when Jobs later recruited him to his second start-up, NeXT (after Jobs was fired from Apple in 1985) that Longo saw him at his most persuasive. "No one could know anything or see any prototypes. You had to take a leap of faith," he recalled. As Jobs talked, he kept pointing to a shroud on the other side of the room. "And of course, you wanted to go over and rip off the shroud." When Jobs eventually did take off the shroud, it turned out that a simple unformed wooden block was sitting on a stand. "There was no computer yet. I thought, ‘what have I done?' "

Longo is a Pittsburgh native, who later graduated from John Carroll University in Cleveland. He began his professional career in this region, teaching at Padua High School, Lakeland Community College and John Carroll. His first job in business was with a company in Cleveland called Data Point, which he said "was like an MBA on steroids." That led him to Apple, for which he began working in 1981 (just a year after it went public), developing value-added retailers and other third party sales channels in the educational niche.

Later, he would help California-based Apple develop its sales presence on the east coast. "I was Steve's Sherpa on the east coast," he recalled. "We traveled together a lot."

Longo comes from a family of entrepreneurs. His father owned a small grocery store in Pittsburgh, where Bob learned some early lessons, on pricing, among other things. "I remember how my dad would mark down the price of Campbell's soup to five cans for a dollar. And then he'd go to the other aisle, and jack up the price on crackers." Fun for his dad, he recalled, was going to a farmer's market at night. "I don't remember anyone, including Steve, who was as passionate about his business."

Longo joined Northeast Ohio-based School One in 2009, after a stint as president of Carnegie Learning, a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University. What attracted him to School One (which serves the K-12 technology educational market), he said, was how the two founders kept bootstrapping and reinventing the company over its first decade. It reminded him of some advice he once got from an early mentor: "Once you get your money, Bob, be parsimonious, because it goes fast as hell." He went on to observe: "the early-stage CEO must be a jack-of-all-trades."

More information:

OVA's New Video Archive is Online:

OVA is pleased to have recently added an archive of program videos to its website. You'll find the full video record of most OVA formal programs since 2008 at www.ohioventure.org/video-archive.html.

Upcoming Meeting Dates:

  • January 13, 2012
    Stephen McHale
    Chairman & CEO, Explorys, Inc.

See complete details and registration for these events.

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