Meet the fake Steve Jobs...
... and several other satirists blogging in the guise of famous CEOs as interest in captains of industry grows.
Beverly Hills, Calif.
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But recently, a new subgenre of the "made-up memoir" has appeared online: the "fake CEO" blog. These satiric, Internet blogs parody the inner dreams and outer schemes of business titans such as Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Oracle's Larry Ellison, and News Corporation's Rupert Murdoch. Their often hilarious riffs on business strategies, personal rivalries, and most important, say new-media watchers, their impressive audience numbers, underscore the "celebritization" of those formerly gray-flannel folks known as "suits."
"The role of CEO has changed from good manager to charismatic leader over the last decade," says Alex Halavais, communications professor at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn. This is particularly true with consumer technology, which increasingly affects people's lives so directly. As Mr. Halavais points out, Mr. Jobs waits to unveil new products until he can do so personally, "in idiosyncratic fashion, in front of a crowd of admirers."
At the same time, these CEOs are in a high-stakes, nondisclosure world, where trade secrets can make or break huge companies. "Parody is a good way to touch a figure that doesn't want – or can't take – the time to be bothered with honest and direct communication," says Joel Postman, executive vice president of emerging media at San Francisco's Eastwick Communications.
Forbes Magazine reporter Dan Lyons, who has just published a book, "Options: the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, a Parody," launched the genre with his "fake Steve Jobs" blog, an improvisatory parody that he still updates daily. The imaginary musings (recent posts include a chat with former Vice President Al Gore and the Klingon Ambassador after Mr. Gore receives a prize from the United Federation of Planets), began over a year ago as an experiment, says Mr. Lyons. His own life as a technology reporter for a business magazine would be too boring to write about so, he figured, "why not do somebody everyone wants to know about?"