Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

What Steve Jobs told Barack Obama's campaign manager

June 15, 2012: 7:20 AM ET

The education of Jim Messina, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, started at Apple

Messina's social network. From Bloomberg Businessweek

FORTUNE -- In the current issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, Joshua Green tells the story of how Jim Messina, Barack Obama's campaign manager, got what Green describes as "the highest-wattage crash course in executive management ever undertaken," starting with Apple's (AAPL) Steve Jobs:

In two long, private conversations, Steve Jobs tore into Messina for all the White House was doing wrong and what it ought to be doing differently, before going on to explain how the campaign could exploit technology in ways that hadn't been possible before.

"Last time you were programming to only a couple of channels," Jobs told him, meaning the Web and e-mail. "This time, you have to program content to a much wider variety of channels -- Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, Google --because people are segmented in a very different way than they were four years ago."

When Obama declared for president, the iPhone hadn't been released. Now, Jobs told him, mobile technology had to be central to the campaign's effort.

"He knew exactly where everything was going," Messina says. "He explained viral content and how our stuff could break out, how it had to be interesting and clean."

Jobs, however, plays a tertiary role in Messina's education. The key players, according to Green, are Google's (GOOG) Eric Schmidt, Dreamworks' Steven Spielberg.

As Green tells it, Messina's plan is to match the TV ads funded by the Super PACs backing Romney with a targeted, social media-based get-out-the-vote campaign.

It's a fascinating story. You can read it here.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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