Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre are searching for the ‘next Steve Jobs’

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Iovine
Jimmy Iovine on stage at an Apple event.
Photo: Apple

Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Drew, two of the high profile executives Apple brought in with its $3 billion purchase of Beats, are profiled in the new issue of GQ. While both have stepped back from their daily involvement with Apple, the article nonetheless briefly touches on Cupertino’s 2014 Beats purchase — and why Iovine says it made total sense for Apple.

Iovine, who stepped aside as head of Apple Music in 2018, said that he and Dre now spend their time searching for the next Steve Jobs, via a focus on education.

Why the Beats deal made sense

The article, which offers a fascinating glimpse into Iovine’s lifestyle, includes the following section about the Beats acquisition:

“A quality streaming platform and great-sounding headphones: Iovine knew, even back then, that these were two of Apple’s blind spots. Yes, Apple had put ‘1,000 songs in your pocket’ with the iPod – and beautifully so – but Iovine, ever the pioneer, knew that eventually the company would need more than the flat-out purchasing power of iTunes; they would need a streaming service, available via a subscription that connected all their products and customers in a hub of algorithmically enhanced content.

‘We came along at the right time with the things they needed,’ he continues. ‘That’s why the sale [of Beats to Apple] made sense. I’ve said before that Beats to me always felt like it belonged with Apple, because of the way Steve [Jobs] and Tim [Cook] were able to marry technology with culture. They knew, as I know, that the really cool shit is happening at the intersection of the most rapidly expanding industries.”

Journalist Jonathan Heaf mentions some of the items on display in Iovine’s sprawling Los Angeles mansion. Among the collection of prized mementos is an original black and red U2 iPod from 2004. Heaf notes that it is  “under well-polished plexiglass and signed by the band, Iovine and Steve Jobs.”

Finding the next Steve Jobs

Iovine and Dre say that they are now focused on education. “I think [Dre and I] are now in a position to think about who’s going to be the next Steve Jobs, the next Bob Iger, the next Dr Dre… It’s always been something at the back of my mind,” Iovine said. “It’s staggering to me why no one else is looking at it like we are.”

This refers to the Iovine And Young Hall, an innovation-focused program at the University Of Southern California. The GQ article notes that graduates from the school have already gone on to land prestigious jobs, including as an AI engineer at Apple.

Not a culture fit at Apple?

After joining Apple in 2014 with the Beats acquisition, Beats co-founders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine worked on Apple Music. Dre largely stayed quiet about his role, and seems to have distanced himself from Apple in recent years. However, he did release an exclusive album for Apple Music. He also developed a biographical show for Apple TV+ which now seems to have been ditched.

Iovine, meanwhile, worked as the first head of Apple Music Worldwide. Rumors popped up at the beginning of 2018 that Iovine was on his way out. While he denied these rumors, he was officially replaced by Apple veteran Oliver Schusser in the role in April 2018. Iovine is now reportedly a consultant to the company.

A March 2018 Wall Street Journal article reported that:

“For Mr. Iovine and his colleagues, transitioning from the edgy culture they established at Beats to an Apple Music culture that is more focused on appealing to the masses was a particular challenge, [sources] said.”