When Steve Jobs gives you a Porsche at age 23, you know you're destined for a great life.
So it is with Craig Elliott, cofounder and CEO of Pertino, a new Valley startup getting ready to emerge from stealth mode.
The story begins in 1984, when Elliott, now 52, was living in Iowa taking a year off college.
"I ended up working at the local computer retailer and that was the year the Macintosh came out. I sold more Macintoshs than anyone in the United States," Elliott told Business Insider.
So he got a letter from Apple asking him to come to Cupertino, Calif.
"I had dinner with Steve Jobs, spent a week with the Apple executives and Steve gave me a Porsche."
The dinner with Jobs was almost a disaster. During the meal, Jobs asked him how many Macs he had sold. Answer: around 125.
"Jobs was like, 'Oh my god! That's all? That's pathetic!" Elliott recalls. "I leaned over and said, 'Steve, remember, I'm your best guy.' Jobs said, 'Oh, you're right.' And for the rest of the dinner we had a really nice time."
And that was Jobs in a nutshell, Elliott says. He was intense but when people pushed back, that would "reset him."
Jobs offered Elliott a job but Jobs wouldn't be his boss for long. Unknown to both of them, a year later, Jobs would be ousted.
Elliott worked at Apple for a decade, running Apple's Internet and ecommerce business.
The year Jobs returned, Elliott was hired away by networking startup Packeteer to be its CEO. Elliott would take Packeteer public and later, in 2008, sell it for $268 million to Blue Coat Systems.
Elliott retired to New Zealand to "goof off" with his family, he says, and be an an angel investor
That would have been the end of his story, if not for Pertino's cofounder, Scott Hankins. (Hankins is another interesting character. He abandoned a career building robots at NASA to live in the Valley because he thought the tech industry was cooler than space.)
Hankins worked for Elliott at Packeteer as a star engineer and was constantly calling Elliott up in New Zealand pitching startup ideas. Elliott always said no, until he heard about the idea for Pertino. He opened his wallet and came back to the Valley to be CEO.
Pertino will give companies a new way to build networks. Stay tuned for more details when it officially comes out of stealth.
In the meantime, here's a picture of Jobs, the 23-year-old Elliott and the Porsche.
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