Adam Lashinsky: ‘There’s nothing shiny or happy … inside the doors of Apple’

Fortune senior editor Adam Lashinsky stopped by the offices of Zillow earlier this month as he touted his new book: “Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired and Secretive Company Really Works.”

The interview — conducted by Zillow Chief Marketing Officer Amy Bohutinsky — provides some interesting insights into the culture of Apple and how Lashinsky tried to break down the walls as he put together the book.

Lashinsky’s book comes at an interesting time, given the passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and the new regime being led by CEO Tim Cook.

It also comes as Apple’s value continues to rise, now topping $468 billion. (That’s more than Microsoft and Google combined).

“They are controlling down to the precise words that they use when they communicate with the outside world about the product, and they are controlling about who can do that,” said Lashinsky, noting that he relished the challenge of trying to tell the story of Apple.

Here’s more of what the technology journalist found in his interviews

“Users and consumers love Apple. Apple literally has a happy shiny veneer to it. It makes you feel good. And there is nothing shiny or happy about inside the doors of Apple. And, it is true. And you don’t want to overgeneralize, and you don’t want to say there is no joy. Because there is some, particularly in the engineering corps…. But, by and large, it is a very confrontational, work-oriented place.”

Here’s a segment of the interview via Zillow:


Here’s more from Lashinsky’s talk from the Zillow blog.

  • Mason B.

    Surprise, it takes grueling hard work to build anything worth building.  A lot of people today seem to think everyday should be a glorious walk at the beach, that working should be fun all the time, that there is never a crunch mode, but that simply isn’t how it works in tech and it probably hasn’t ever worked that way in any field.  If you want to do something difficult and worthwhile, you are going to work long hours, burn out people, and make a few enemies.  It’s just the way it goes.  I hope the average employee at Apple/Google/Microsoft/others gets in a few great years working hard while they are most productive, enjoys being part of something big that changes the world, and then moves on to enjoy friends, family, and other things as the next shift of young people comes in to take their place. 

  • Guest

    Nonsense. According to Harris Poll’s Reputation Quotient survey, Apple topped all companies in “Workplace Environment.” This third-party source ranked Apple’s working conditions best of the 60 most visible companies in America. http://www.geekwire.com/2012/amazoncom-connects-americans-human-interaction

  • Anonymous

    I think there’s a distinct difference between working hard and working in a stale atmosphere. It seems to me that this is the point Adam is trying to make in his book. With the pristine Apple products that come out, you’d expect a buzzing and creative energy coming from within the confines of Apple, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case. I hope to be a part of something big, sure. But I’ll make sure that whatever it is I am a part of is something we have fun with. If not, what’s the point…?

  • Guest

    Yawn. Now that Apple is finally on top absolutely we get the predictable and expected backlash and attempt to tear them back down.

    That Apple is controlling, with a manic attention to detail, shouldn’t come as any surprise. It’s why their products have been so much better received than those of their competitors for whom good enough is good enough.

  • Steve who?

    Aww, listen to all of the fanboys getting their feelings hurt because someone wrote a negative article about their beloved company, a company with the human rights violations of a third-world nation.

    • Guest

      You’re referring to Foxconn, not Apple.

      Apple has no human rights violations. Some white-collar Apple men are simply mad that their feelings are hurt because they lack the vision of the late Steve Jobs. This is not a “human rights violations of a third-world nation.” Please delete your comment or amend it to emphasize the difference between Apple and Foxconn.

      • Joe the googler

        Well, I think the Apple detractors are pretty much same as the detractors of other successful companies. And, I suspect it’s overblown.  However, the Foxconn problems reflects very much on Apple.  Clothing companies regularly get trashed for using sweatshops and underaged labor.  Apple is very much complicit in the abuses of the companies that manufacture their products.  It’s not like they just found out yesterday. And if they wanted the problems stopped, they would do something about it.

        • Guest

          Clearly you do not understand what a sweatshop is.

          If a man working for Foxconn does not like the conditions, he may quit. He may choose to work for a different employer. Apple embraces this choice and, in choosing suppliers, chooses those that actually provide a better experience than the competition does. Tim Cook, frequently called “the next Steve Jobs,” is actively investigating such abuses and is holding the company to a high standard.

          I see no reason to criticize Apple’s white-collar offices, as is done in this article by an anonymous “journalist,” based on the respectable conduct of one of its suppliers.