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INTERVIEW - "Fake Steve Jobs" began as a whim

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The magazine editor who parodied Apple Inc chief Steve Jobs in a blog said on Monday he started the site on a whim only to see the viral nature of the blogosphere turn it into an Internet sensation.

Steve Jobs, Apple Inc Chief, is seen at the company's World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California in this June 11, 2007 file photo. The magazine editor who parodied Jobs in a blog said on Monday he started the site on a whim only to see the viral nature of the blogosphere turn it into an Internet sensation. REUTERS/Kimberly White

Daniel Lyons, a senior editor from Forbes, was unmasked as the true identity of “Fake Steve Jobs” on Sunday after more than a year of poking fun at technology luminaries, celebrities and journalists.

Speaking to Reuters via cell phone while driving through a torrential rainstorm in Maine, Lyons said he started the blog, fakesteve.blogspot.com, as a way to tinker with new self-publishing tools that are challenging traditional media.

“I ran a few items on that to fill space and sent it to a couple friends of mine as a private joke. But people started finding it, I don’t know how, and it really spread virally,” Lyons said.

“I was starting to develop little story lines like a comic strip would have and I thought, this is kind of cool, like writing your own TV show. There were recurring characters like (Oracle chief executive) Larry Ellison,” Lyons said.

“It’s very addictive, blogging is very addictive, finding an audience like that, a readership like that. The voice just kept coming to me. I’d wake up and something would happen and I’d know here’s what Fake Steve would think about that.”

Forbes is pointing visitors from its Web site to the Fake Steve blog, and Lyons said he hoped that will win him new readers and offset the loss of those who lose interest now that the mystery is over.

Lyons also is working on a satirical novel, “Options”, due out in October that imagines the atmosphere in the executive offices at Apple headquarters as securities regulators investigate the accounting of stock option awards to Jobs.

“The arc of the narrative would be built around that, but on the way there are lots of digressions and asides about hanging out with Bono and Larry Ellison,” Lyons said.

Fake Steve often had sharp words for the likes of Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Bill Gates (“Beastmaster”), Google Inc Chief Executive Eric Schmidt (“Squirrel Boy”) and influential Wall Street Journal columnist Walter Mossberg (“Goatberg”), a trait that may be more difficult to maintain now that Lyons’ authorship is public.

“I try to walk that line and I haven’t got it right every time. People like a little meanness, but too mean and even the readers go, Oh, I’m not laughing now,” Lyons said.

“Fake Steve is way more popular than I am. It’s like that Jim Carrey movie ‘The Mask’, when he puts the mask on he’s charming and funny and everyone likes him and when he takes it off he’s just a schmuck.”

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