Apple Inc yesterday announced that Steve Jobs was stepping down as the company’s CEO, and that he would become Chairman instead. Jobs, of course, has been on sick leave for some time, leaving the day-to-day running of the IT firm, with its huge influence on all things music, to his top team. One of those top teamers, Tim Cook, currently COO, will take over as Chief Executive, and also get a seat on the company’s board.
In his resignation letter Jobs wrote: “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come. I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you”.
Although Jobs didn’t give any specific reason for stepping down as CEO at this time, his health has been a concern for a few years, particularly since he had a liver transplant in 2009 after surviving pancreatic cancer. Jobs’ decision to formally stand down as Chief Executive now may be more about keeping investors happy than because of any significant change in his health.
Jobs has been a very popular leader among the investment community, so much so that every time speculation about his health circulated Apple’s share price wobbled. With that in mind, some shareholders, recognising that it is unlikely that Jobs will ever be able to return to a full-on full-time executive role at the company, have been pushing the firm’s board to reveal a decent succession plan. Keeping Jobs involved as Chairman of the board is a sensible move to ensure Apple still benefits from his expertise, but that concerns about his health will have less of an impact on the day-to-day running of the business.
Paying tribute to Jobs’ role in the revival of Apple, an IT firm at one point written off but now one of the most powerful in the world, fellow board member Art Levinson said yesterday: “Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company. Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team. In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration”.