Taste — you have it, or you don’t. 

Like musical ability, it can be improved with a lot of time, effort, and teaching, but only so far. Music is to Mozart as Taste is to Steve Jobs. 

Explaining Taste is where words fail me. To echo the words of Potter Stewart, “I know it when I see it.” Good taste is deeply resonant, if not utterly indefensible. 

At the same time, Taste is not subjective. The worse your Taste is, the more likely you are to think that’s the case. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

At the highest levels of success, good taste has always been a differentiator. It’s a competitive advantage that’s growing increasingly important. Sure, one could argue that many successful software founders and their teams have lacked taste, and you’d be right. Even Apple has left us with the cursed “End & Accept, Decline, Hold & Accept” screen. But the landscape around taste has shifted drastically in the last years and months. In today’s world, with its strong visual emphasis, endless images, and virtual experiences - all of which will soon be fueled by AI - the power will be accrued by those with Taste. 

As AI lowers the barrier for creation, what separates the good from the great is not whether you are a 10X engineer or the biggest network of VCs, but whether you have good taste. As Jobs famously said, “Ultimately, it comes down to taste.”

Note: This is far from a complete thought or essay, but wanted to publish it for feedback. A couple of the many examples that got me thinking about this were the viral pope jacket and the AI art that won a photo contest