The Smartest People in the World Don’t All Work for Us. Most of Them Work for Someone Else

Bill Joy? George Gilder? Bill Gates? Dan Gillmor? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Bill Joy is a top computer scientist who helped to develop the UNIX operating system and co-founded Sun Microsystems. He formulated an important insight now called “Joy’s Law” about the distribution of expertise in organizations. Here are three versions:

  • No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.
  • The smartest people in every field are never in your own company.
  • The smartest people in the world don’t all work for us. Most of them work for someone else.

Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: The earliest strong match within a direct quotation located by QI occurred in “Fortune” magazine in 1995. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Says Joy: “The idea behind our Java strategy was that the smartest people in the world don’t all work for us. Most of them work for someone else. The trick is to make it worthwhile for the great people outside your company to support your technology. Innovation moves faster when the people elsewhere are working on the problem with you.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Smartest People in the World Don’t All Work for Us. Most of Them Work for Someone Else

Notes:

  1. 1995 December 11, Fortune, Volume 132, Number 12, Section: Information Technology, Article: Whose Internet Is It, Anyway? Author: Brent Schlender, Start Page 120, Quote Page 130, Column 2, Time Inc., New York. (Verified with scans)