As the world raged and recoiled at a photograph of a drowned Syrian toddler this week, a tech pioneer connected some dots in a simple, powerful tweet that was soon widely shared.
David Galbraith, a Geneva, Switzerland-based tech entrepreneur and designer, tweeted an iconic black-and-white photo of Steve Jobs with the words: “A Syrian migrants’ child.”The Apple founder’s biological father left Syria for the United States in the 1950s.
The body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi was photographed on a Turkish beach where he was discovered by police earlier this week. He was among at least 12 refugees, including his brother and mother, who died trying to reach the Greek island of Kos by boat. The image of the drowned boy in his little red shirt led to a global outcry as the migrant death toll mounts.
Galbraith is a partner at Anthemis Group, a digital financial services investment and advisory firm. He was also co-founder of MLS Ventures, an incubator where Yelp was created; a co-author of RSS, which lets individuals syndicate data using feeds; and co-founder of Moreover.com, which was acquired by Verisign in 2005.
“I was prompted to post it after seeing the pictures of Aylan Kurdi,” Galbraith wrote in an email to Blue Sky. “I could barely look as I have two beautiful young children of my own. It seemed to be that what the most precious thing in the world, a small child, was washed up on the sea shore like a discarded object of no value, when a child with a parent of the same nationality, given opportunity had created the largest company in the entire world. And here we are seeing an acrimonious debate, about stopping migrants.”
Galbraith said he learned of Jobs’ ancestry from the Apple founder’s authorized biography, “Steve Jobs.”
“Many fans of Steve Jobs, like myself, were aware of the story of both his biological and adoptive parents from Walter Isaacson’s biography, and I notice that Isaacson was one of the people that first shared the Tweet,” Galbraith said.
Of the wide reach of his tweet, Galbraith said: “I did have a hunch the Tweet would go viral, because it used few words, stated fact not opinion, defied stereotypes and had an iconic picture.
“It contrasted that of Aylan Kurdi in every way and made me wonder what little boys like him could have achieved if they had been given the chance. In a medium restricted to 140 characters, a picture is worth more than 1,000 words.”