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The zodiac is the key to unlocking tech's greatest feuds

It's coded in the stars

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Thomas Edison was an Aquarius, born in the Week of Acceptance; Nikola Tesla was a Cancer, born in the Week of the Unconventional — no wonder the two godfathers of electricity never vibed on the same wavelength. They were working with shockingly different astrological energies — the stars had pre-wired the sires of sparks for a faulty relationship.

During a recent party at a friend’s home, I ran across a book that shook me as if I were a Magic Eight Ball: Gary Goldschneider and Joost Eiffers’ epic tome, The Secret Language of Relationships. A follow-up to the duo’s astounding The Secret Language of Birthdays, the book assigns every birthday a unique astrological "week" (for some divine reason, there are only 48 categories) and creates a matrix of relationships, revealing the fault lines between romantic, creative, familial, and business rapports.

    Samsung (March 1) vs. Apple (April 1)

  1. The Feud

    The Feud

    These two just can't get along. After Apple won a mega legal victory over Samsung in 2012, the two companies returned to court earlier this year to bicker over who copied who in the process of making some phones and affiliated gadgetry. Apple (mostly) came out on top, but the discord didn't stop there: Samsung's lead attorney later described Apple as a "jihadist" and the two companies continue to file various pieces of legal paperwork with intentions and allegations that are largely indecipherable to the average person.

  2. The Astrology

    The Astrology

    Samsung was founded the "Week of Spirit" while Apple started bearing fruit on the "Week of the Child." As such, their relationship "will revolve around an imaginative world that emphasizes physical grace, vivid fantasy and gentle idealism." But there are also "conflicting energies that must be addressed" at play here. A marital merger is not recommended, but a friendship is written in the stars. "Dreams can become realities," but the two companies should also stay on their own sides of the bed.

  3. Peter Thiel (Oct. 11) vs. Eric Schmidt (April 27)

  4. The Feud

    The Feud

    Peter Thiel is the Bart Simpson to Eric Schmidt's Superintendent Chalmers: the former a pluckish, combative techno-Libertarian and the latter a digital dictator presiding over a pervasive techno-dystopian institution. Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, is seriously dismissive of Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and his rose-tinted vision of societal progress through programming. The two butted heads at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado, two years ago. "You do a fine job as Google's administrator of propaganda," Thiel said. "Let's just say that everything you just said is not actually true," Schmidt shot back.

  5. The Astrology

    The Astrology

    No wonder Thiel and Schmidt can't kiss and make up: "The Secret Language" labels their astrological relationship as "take no prisoners," symbolized by a disgruntled praying mantis. "The challenge of this relationship will be to preserve a balance of power. Both partners consider themselves authorities on a variety of subjects, and may be extremely intolerant of other points of view," Goldschneider and Eiffers write. The dynamic is marked by rivalry, depression, and challenges. The text also offers sage advice for the unlikely couple: "lighten up and have fun," and remember that "acting silly isn’t shameful." Other "take no prisoners" couples? Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. Fiery, but ultimately unmanageable.

  6. Reed Hastings (Oct. 8) vs. Jeff Bezos (Jan. 12)

  7. The Feud

    The Feud

    Nothing is as ugly as the fight over the Roku remote when Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, sits down for movie night with Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. This past spring, Amazon announced it had signed a massive agreement that secured Amazon Prime Instant Video as the stomping grounds for some of HBO's most popular scripted shows, and managed to steal Fox's 24 away from Netflix. Meanwhile, Netflix continues to outshine its competitor with original programming like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, while Amazon stumbles along with the likes of Alpha House.

  8. The Astrology

    The Astrology

    Hastings was born during "the Week of Society," and Bezos during "the Week of Dominance" — a primetime recipe for disaster. Characterized as "subversive," "clashing," "evasive," and "antagonistic," this relationship is "imbued with contrasts — its energy can shift from the known to the unknown, from the potential to the kinetic and, often, from the acceptable to the questionable." The book suggests that this dynamic might be compatible for marriage, but for the time being Hastings and Bezos' relationship is stuck in arrested development.

  9. Lyft (May 31) vs. Uber (Aug. 30)

  10. The Feud

    The Feud

    Lyft and Uber are both playing a game of one-upsmanship when it comes to customer service: Charge your phone? A bottle of water? A stick of gum? I got you, bro. But between the two companies boils a devilish cauldron of ill will, fueling a road rage unlike any other. The car ride rivals are poaching each other's drivers with the ruthlessness of endangered rhino hunters — in May, Lyft tried to entice drivers away from Uber with offers of free tacos and $500. Uber meanwhile, has been accused of jamming Lyft's systems by encouraging drivers to open the Lyft app, call for a ride, and quickly cancel.

  11. The Astrology

    The Astrology

    Lyft and Uber need to downshift and take a leisurely, top-down cruise along the Avenue of the Stars. Both companies were born under fortuitous signs — Lyft in "the Week of Freedom," and Uber in the "Week of System Builders" — but their relationship is defined by a "Need for Change." It's likely that Uber will "usually feel more secure in an ordered situation that is only altered when a change will increase efficiency" while Lyft will probably "prefer something looser, often changing things just because they enjoy it, and tire of stasis." At best the relationship can be "thoughtful"; at worst, it can be "manipulative," "anxious," and "fearful."

  12. Mark Zuckerberg (May 14) vs. Winklevoss Twins (Aug. 21)

  13. The Feud

    The Feud

    A rivalry so profound, the eminent Aaron Sorkin sprinkled it with Hollywood dust and took it to the big screens. After filing several lawsuits alleging that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for an online social network, the Winklevoss brothers even considered taking their complaints to the Supreme Court. All three have now moved on — Zuckerberg to a quiet married life somewhere in California, and the Winklevoss to the stars, via recently purchased tickets aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.

  14. The Astrology

    Rory Cellan/Flickr

    The Astrology

    Suddenly, it all makes sense. The Winklevoss were born in "the Week of Exposure," our guidebook notes, and can find relationships with Zuckerberg's ilk — "the Week of the Natural" — to be "tyrannical or insensitive to them." This perhaps explains why Tyler and Cameron sought retribution in the multi-millions: their astrological rapport with Zuckerberg led them to feel profoundly wronged by his ways. But might collaboration be in the future? Those born in the Week of Exposure have such dynamic personalities that they can "fascinate" those born under Zuckerberg's celestial pattern, "waking them up to their own fantasies and desires."

  15. Jack Dorsey (Nov. 19) vs. Evan Williams (March 31)

  16. The Feud

    The Feud

    If we are to trust Nick Bilton's book Hatching Twitter, the feud between Dorsey and Williams started when the two both sought sole reign of Twitter for themselves. And when Williams demoted Dorsey and took over as CEO (which Dorsey told Vanity Fair was "like getting punched in the stomach"), Dorsey refused to go down without more of a fight — he publicly cast himself as the service's inventor while privately working towards Williams' professional demise.

  17. The Astrology


    The Astrology

    It's a shame, because this one really could've worked. The rapport between Dorsey (born in "Week of Prophecy") and Williams (intriguingly, born in "Week of the Child") notes the potential for mutual attraction because the other "mirrors themselves." But Dorsey's astrological profile is marked by self-absorption and difficulty communicating with others, which Williams' likely struggled with: he needs someone with a "positive outlook" to mitigate his own "dark side."