- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — At long last, someone has cracked one of the technology world”s biggest mysteries — the identity of Fake Steve, a sharp-tongued blogger who had tech aficionados in stitches with a satiric diary purporting to be from Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

Now for the really good part: Both the blogger and the guy who outed him are from staunch bastions of so-called Old Media — Forbes magazine and the New York Times.

In a story published yesterday, Brad Stone of the Times identified Dan Lyons, a technology editor at Forbes, as the author of “The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs,” a daily account of events in the tech industry as seen through a caricature of Mr. Jobs. The blog can be found at fakesteve.blogspot.com.

Reached by cell phone in Maine, where he had just begun a family vacation, Mr. Lyons said he has heard from several friends who found it ironic that someone from a “dead-tree” media outlet, and not a fellow blogger, had succeeded in solving the puzzle.

“They said the blogosphere is so nearsighted that they only know the world they inhabit,” Mr. Lyons said, noting that several bloggers were trying to use high-tech tricks such as tracing the electronic signatures of e-mails to figure out Fake Steve’s identity.

Meanwhile, the Times reporter did some shoe-leather reporting by contacting people in the publishing world to gather hints from a proposal for a book that Fake Steve is coming out with in the fall.

Mr. Lyons, who has written one novel already, said he found inspiration for another one while doing the blog and was hoping to keep the identity of Fake Steve secret. However, his bosses at Forbes had found out, and they were already planning to move the blog over to Forbes.com. Despite yesterday revelation, the blog will continue to be updated.

Rich Karlgaard, the publisher of Forbes, had openly speculated about the identity of Fake Steve as far back as a year ago and said he didn”t mind at all that he didn”t find out that Fake Steve was in fact one of his own employees until this April.

In a posting on Forbes” site, Mr. Karlgaard said he had been asked by the Times reporter whether he was angry that Mr. Lyons hadn”t come forward earlier, while Mr. Karlgaard was still taking public guesses about his identity. (The publisher”s last guess was John Hodgman, a comedian who plays “PC” in Apple“s Macintosh TV commercials.)

Referring to Fake Steve as “FSJ,” as Mr. Lyons calls himself on his own blog, Mr. Karlgaard wrote: “Angry? Dan had pulled off one of the great spoofs in journalism. I had a ringside seat to the show. Dan and I laughed for days.”

Mr. Lyons, who is 46, said he stumbled into writing the Fake Steve blog 14 months ago after determining that he needed to figure out how to do a blog. Then he thought of the trend of CEOs supposedly writing personal blogs that were anything but personal.

After settling on Mr. Jobs because he was “so easy to caricature,” Mr. Lyons started reading up on him, having never covered Apple as a news story.

He said he found Mr. Jobs to be truly “a genius,” but also “really dark.”

An Apple Inc. spokesman declined to comment.

The release of Apple“s much-touted IPhone came in for particular ribbing, with Fake Steve claiming in a headline that day: “29 June 2007: The day the world changed.” A long posting on the phone started out “Apple faithful …” and concluded “Namaste. Much love. Peace out. Dear Leader.”

Many leading luminaries of the tech world came in for a pasting, starting with longtime Apple nemesis Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, who is playfully referred to as “Beastmaster.”