Jobs, who has suffered from pancreatic cancer and had a liver transplant in 2009, has looked increasingly frail in his cultlike appearances in front of Apple fans to introduce new products, but he did not explicitly indicate in a letter to the company’s board and its customers whether his health was failing.
“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,” wrote Jobs, who has been on a health leave of absence since January. “Unfortunately, that day has come.”
Although not entirely unexpected given the grave nature of his previous illnesses — he had surgery for a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004 — Jobs’s resignation ends one of the most extraordinary runs in business history. This month, Apple briefly became the most valuable company in the world, surpassing oil giant Exxon Mobil.
Jobs has been replaced by Tim Cook, his longtime No. 2 and the company’s chief operating officer. Cook has run Apple’s day-to-day operations during Jobs’s health-related absences. Jobs will be chairman of the board.
Apple shares declined Thursday morning in response to the news even though Jobs will remain active in the company’s affairs as board chairman. As Adam Santariano of Bloomberg News explained
Apple stocks took a hit on the news that its visionary chief executive, Steve Jobs, is scaling back his role at the company. Jobs, 56, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down after 14 years as Apple’s chief executive, though he will continue as the company’s chairman.
Around 11:30 a.m., Apple stock was down 5.5 percent, trading at $370.63 per share, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index was down about 1 percent in late-morning trading. However, Apple competitor Google was trading for about $524 per share, up 1 percent.
Jobs, who is closely identified with the company and whose health has had a clear effect on Apple stock in the past, said Wednesday that he could “no longer meet my duties and expectations” as Apple’s chief.
When Jobs announced his latest medical leave in January, shares fell nearly 4 percent in morning trading. But shares have risen rapidly over the past year, with Apple briefly surpassing Exxon Mobil in value this month.
Bloomberg reported that the S&P fell $52 billion before the market opened after Jobs announced his decision following the markets’ close Wednesday.
Many analysts believe that while Jobs has left his role as CEO, he will still provide the innovative influence that made Apple into an industry leader. As columnist Joshua Topolsky opined
If you read Jobs’ letter last night (and the accompanying press release), it’s fairly easy to see that. What happened less than twenty-four hours ago was more a formalizing of a long-standing arrangement between Jobs, Tim Cook, and the company both men work for than it was a major shift in roles. Tim will receive the official title of CEO and continue to manage day-to-day operations at Apple, but Jobs will be there, as Chairman of the Board, as Apple employee number two. Still leading, still giving cues, still brainstorming and critiquing.
That much seems clear to me not only from the tone and wording of Steve’s letter, but from what I’ve heard from numerous industry sources.
This hierarchy is not wildly different than what has already been happening (and what has happened in the past) at Apple. When Jobs took his last leave of absence this past January, Tim Cook stepped into the role of CEO in most ways you can conceive of. And why not? He’s done this on numerous occasions, starting way back in 2004, then again in January of 2009, and finally one last time at the beginning of this year. This is a long, tested, familiar structure, and it has worked amazingly well for Apple. As many have already pointed out, the company’s rise during these past few years has been meteoric, and that’s thanks in no small part to the leadership and steady hand of Tim Cook.
So what Apple looks like today, tomorrow, and maybe even years down the road isn’t going to dramatically change. Steve will still be there, navigating — if not outright piloting — the big ship in Cupertino, still bringing his strange and brilliant mixture of talents to the table, still being the company’s toughest critic and most ardent defender. And Tim will be there as well, keeping that famous cool, making sure deadlines are met and plans are put into action. Apple will be Apple, just as we know it now.
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