So I'm here at Keplers, the bookstore in Menlo Park, with a bunch of Stevetards waiting for Dan Lyons, the faux Apple CEO who pens The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs and the new book Options, a parody memoir of Steve Jobs. He's here for a book reading, and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak has taken the podium to introduce him. Woz starts speaking a mile a minute, referencing his on-again, off-again romance with comedienne Kathy Griffin. And then he spins into a weird numerological digression. I'm starting to think this guy is actually kind of nuts. Either that, or Lyons has written this routine for him. And then Wozniak presents him with a genuine Apple turtleneck. It's only getting weirder from here, I fear.
"This is the highlight of my life — the birth of my children, and meeting Woz," says Lyons, like some pathetic starstruck fanboy. This is the man who called me "Bigglesworth"? I'm wondering who the real pussycat is.
Lyons starts by explaining how he got the "Secret Diary" moniker from the British magazine Private Eye. The whole idea, he explains, was just to learn more about blogging and figure out how tools like Blogger works. The blog spiraled from there.
"I don't know anything about Steve Jobs," Lyons says. "This is as close as I've ever gotten," he adds, pointing to Wozniak. He recounts how he closed down the blog, and a reader actually reposted his archive, which prompted Lyons to continue.
Lyons then makes a gaffe: "I've written a lot of books, which are still available on Amazon.com." The owner of Keplers coughs and glares at him. "Sorry. In a brick-and-mortar store, you never say the 'A' word."
Now Lyons is retelling the story — familiar to our readers — of how Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard got in on the hunt for Fake Steve Jobs, offering a reward. But Lyons adds this tidbit: Karlgaard sent him an email, unaware of his identity, offering him a column in the magazine. Another email he got came from a partner at Elevation Partners, the private equity firm which owns a large stake in Forbes, offering to invest in the blog.
And the rest is history: Timesman brad Stone's expert outing of Lyons. Lyons then segues to questions. Gizmodo editor Brian Lam asks Lyons if he thinks that Apple had a hand in uncovering his identity, pointing out that Google owns the Blogger service Lyons uses and Google CEO Eric Schmidt — "Squirrel Boy" in Lyons's blog — is on Apple's board. Lyons turns to Wozniak and asks, "Could Apple do that?"
"Yes," Wozniak deadpans.
Lyons then offers to let Wozniak guest-blog on the site. "I'll give you the password," he says.
An audience member asks what Lyons thinks of the real Steve Jobs. "I actually really admire him," says Lyons. "I wouldn't want to work for him, I wouldn't want to live next to him, I wouldn't want to be in his family. What he does requires a hardness that I don't think I could have. I feel affectionate toward him."
Affectionate? I never expected Fake Steve would be such a softy.
Finally I get to ask a question. "When on the blog are you Steve, and when are you Fake Steve?" I ask. It was the best I could come up with, but Lyons runs with it.
"It's this third personality that evolved, something like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog," he explains. "Fake steve is not really like Steve Jobs, and it's not really me. Like EMC. Real Steve would never write about EMC. Or [Robert] Scoble. Once you start thinking about Scoble, you can't get Scoble out of your head. I'm sure Steve Jobs doesn't think about Scoble at all."
Truer words were never spoken. Especially by a fake blogger.