Apple’s iconic CEO Steve Jobs has taken a medical leave of absence, according to an email sent to staff at Apple and confirmed on their website.
The media advisory has a copy of the email Mr. Jobs sent to his employees:
Apple CEO Steve Jobs today sent the following email to all Apple employees:
At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.
I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.
I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.
This is not the first time issues with the health of Mr. Jobs have impacted Apple. Back in 2004, he had let everyone at the company know that he had come down with a form of pancreatic cancer, and took leave to have the cancer removed. There has been speculation on his health since then, usually after key speeches. In 2009, he took a six month leave of absence which led to a liver transplant in April of that year. Each time he has taken a leave, COO Timothy Cook has taken the reins, with Mr. Jobs being involved in major decisions.
In the past, most notably when he left in 2009, shareholders have demanded further details about the health of Mr. Jobs, considering his iconic status at the company and in the tech world at large. This past month, it was announced that a group of Apple shareholders had requested a yearly, publicly disclosed look at the succession procedure for the company should Mr. Jobs have to step away from his job permanently. Apple has urged their shareholders to vote against the proposal, stating that it would give an unfair advantage to their competitors. Larry Dignan, the Editor in Chief at ZDNet, speculates that this will put the spotlight on a potential succession plan back in the spotlight.
In my opinion, the succession plan is not only pretty obvious, but already in place, and it seems to be working: Apple hasn’t missed a beat whenever Tim Cook has run the company. This isn’t exactly a shift from Jobs to John Sculley, the person that almost killed the company by trying to compete with IBM, forcing a shift to the PowerPC processor and a crippling inability to manage people. Mr. Cook is essentially Mr. Jobs in temperament, decision making ability and dedication; the only difference is a lack of a turtleneck and the fact that Mr. Cook hasn’t stuck it into Joan Baez. Apple’s share price has gone down since word of the announcement came out, but this is largely irrelevant, and will almost certainly be offset – if not eliminated altogether – by the iPhone being made available to Verizon customers. If recent company history holds out, we’ll also be hearing of another iWhatever in June as well.
Simply put, Apple will be fine, Tim Cook is a highly capable executive (capable enough to be paid $59m in Apple’s fiscal year), and anyone who sold their stock in a panic today is either short-selling or a fool.