by Philip Bendall (Managing Director of Segway New Zealand)
Today I ate fish & chips* with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple – perhaps the most valuable company in the world today.
Woz is in Auckland preparing for his Steve Wozniak Live seminar tomorrow, and there was time for Steve Simms (Tomizone), Seeby Woodhouse (Voyager, Green Carbon, founder of Orcon), Andrew Somervell (Eventfinder, The Beer Festival, Biggie) and myself to enjoy a leisurely lunch at Jack Tars, North Wharf on Wynyard Quarter, Auckland.
I first met Woz five years ago, when we each captained our respective Segway Polo teams at the world’s first international championship held in Auckland, February 2006. The Aftershocks and the Pole Blacks were the only two teams in the world competing for the freshly minted Woz Challenge Cup back in February 2006, but by the following year three US teams faced the Pole Blacks in San Francisco (Seeby and Andrew were our best two players that year, with Rod Drury (Xero, Trade-Me) completing our team of five players along with Steve Simms and myself). This year at least 16 teams will compete at the 2012 tournament in Stockholm next month.
Woz remarked it was so nice to have time out of his busy schedule to just relax in Auckland again with friends he hadn’t seen for a while. I mentioned one of my favourite memories was the surreal experience of him and I driving around Cupertino, California, in his Hummer he’d fitted out with radars for hurricane chasing. Competing on the Polo Field at Gold Gate Park in sight of the famous bridge was pretty cool too.
Woz spend the morning enjoying a Magic Broomsticks Segway Tour of Devonport, calling it “just the most beautiful place to see by Segway PT”. Owner Pauline Baker was thrilled to take Woz on a guided tour of the many historic and picturesque sights – the nautically themed township, North Head with its ancient ‘disappearing gun’ and tunnels, Mount Victoria with the best 360 degree views of Auckland. Pauline has also loaned Woz the use of a Segway PT to use during this 4 days in Auckland. Woz is not only a great fan of the Segway PT, but is often seen getting around on one. He’s famous for queuing up at a local Apple Store on a Segway PT to buy the latest iPhone on launch day (nicely parodied here).
As you can imagine, these five technology entrepreneurs talked non-stop throughout lunch about all manner of topics, including waxing lyrical about the coming Technology Singularity. We were interrupted only once by an enthralled member of the public who recognised Woz and came over to introduce himself, thanking him for inventing the personal computer and thus forever changing the world.
* Fish and chips is a favourite Kiwi takeaway (fast food) meal, although today we ate it as a sit-down restaurant meal. Foreigners insist New Zealanders pronounce it as “fush and chups” when they hear us say it, but yeah, yeah, nah mate, they’re just hearing funny, Bro’.