Pat McGovern Meets with Steve, the Deal is Done [Recollections]



In part 8 of “My Close Encounters With Steve Jobs,” Macworld founder David Bunnell describes how Steve Jobs and IDG publisher Pat McGovern sign a deal to launch Macworld in conjunction with the Mac.

One major obstacle remained before the first issue of Macworld magazine could roll off the presses at the Brown Printing Company in Minnesota. I needed to get my boss, Pat McGovern (pictured here), Chairman of the IDG, and Steve Jobs, Chairman of Apple, to sit down and sign the contract.

With real numbers from our accounting department, I called McGovern to tell him exactly how much money we had already spent and how much more we were committed to spend, even if we didn’t print the magazine.

“Do you realize, Uncle Pat,” I said, “The issue is already at Brown? It’s ready to go.”

After several moments of dead silence, McGovern said he’d be on the West Coast in a couple days. We would go down to Apple together, meet with Steve, and finish the contract.

It was a rare clear but cold January day when McGovern met me at the PC World office in San Francisco and we drove down to Cupertino together in his yellow Mercedes sedan, a very nice car if not as sporty as Steve’s 560SL convertible. Always wanting to protect his reputation for frugality, McGovern explained to me his wife, Lori, had bought him the car because she was embarrassed that he kept driving in his old Oldsmobile with its mileage of well over 100,000.

The rumor was that when Lori first met Pat McGovern, even though he was already a multi-millionaire technology publisher, he slept on a mattress of the floor and did his own laundry at a neighborhood coin-operated Laundromat.

I liked Uncle Pat and enjoyed listening to his witticisms about life and what it took to build a successful business. He was famous for saying, “If you have the right people, then all you have to do is meet once a year and ask, ‘how did it go?'” which made me think I wasn’t one of those people, as he met with me at least once a month.

After parking in the outreaches of the Apple lot, I pointed out the now famous pirate flag, showed him the handicapped space where Steve parked his car, and took him on a tour inside the development building. I introduced McGovern to some of the key players including the brilliant programmer Andy Hertzfeld, Joanna Hoffman, who had started out in research and ended up running the Mac’s marketing efforts, and the Macintosh Chief Engineer, Burrell Smith, who with his long blond hair and smooth face looked like he was still 14 years old.

They had no idea who McGovern was, other than my friend, a tall, jovial publishing guy in a double-breasted Navy suit with shiny silver buttons. Steve wasn’t in yet, so I showed him Steve’s “office,” a modest cubicle with a simple desk, chair, a Macintosh and a photo of his daughter, Lisa. McGovern was impressed that Steve didn’t have a big, fancy office—he must have thought to himself, “he’s cheap just like me.”

When Jobs showed up, he was friendly enough, and though I knew he was still upset with the report that McGovern had forked out millions to buy Wayne Green’s magazines, he didn’t mention it. He chatted amicably with Pat for a few moments, pointing out where he lived in Woodside, was more rural and less “corporate” than McGovern’s Hillsborough neighborhood even though both were equally exclusive.

And then Steve announced he would not be negotiating with us. “I’m just too busy this close to launch, so I’m going to take you guys over to meet with our lawyer,” he said, “and if you can work things out with him, then I’ll sign the agreement.”

I don’t remember much of the conversation Steve and Pat had on the walk over to Apple’s corporate headquarters on the nearby road aptly named “Infinity Loop” because I had to work much too hard to keep up with them. They seemed to be trying to outdo each other on who could walk the fastest.

I had walked places with Steve before, so I was familiar with his intimidating pace, but had no idea McGovern could move just as quickly. I wondered if speed walking had anything to do with business success or perhaps they were both just trying to minimize their time together.

In any case, this was a fortunate turn of events. It would be much easier to deal with David Kopf, Apple’s lawyer who had already helped us write up the contract. There was no risk that Pat and Steve would start insulting each other.

In the end, Uncle Pat got his guaranteed payment schedule, and I got some serious bruises on my shins from him kicking me under the table whenever he thought I might contradict him or raise any undue objections.

The “deal” only provided for payments up to $600,000 instead of the $1.8 million Mike Murray and I had envisioned because Kauf was wisely skeptical about Steve’s projections on the number of Macs to be shipped the first year. He told McGovern that “200,000 not 600,000” was a more realistic. McGovern was fine with this. He was still figuring the whole thing would flop and at least the $600,000 would pay for the launch.

The Macintosh would be a dud, but we would more or less break even, and importantly, David Bunnell and Andrew Fluegalmen would learn their lesson. They would go back to DOS and be good boys once again.

Part 1: Meeting Steve
Part 2: Seeing the Macintosh for the Very First Time
Part 3: We Met the REAL Steve Jobs
Part 4: Steve Jobs Tells Us to “Belly Up to the Bar”
Part 5: Steve Comes Up with a Really Weird Ad
Part 6: Steve Poses for the First Cover of Macworld
Part 7: Andrew Fluegelman Urges Apple to Delay the Introduction
Part 8: Pat McGovern Meets with Steve, the Deal is Done.
Part 9: Steve is F*cking Great!
Part 10: Steve Thumbs his Nose at the Apple II
Part 11: The Macintosh Speaks For Itself (Literally)…
Part 12: The Fat Mac Saves the Day
Part 13: Steve Brings Tina to the Macworld Dinner Party
Part 14: Ella Fitzgerald Sings Happy Birthday to Steve
Part 15: Steve’s NeXT Big Thing

Follow me on Twitter @davbunnell


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