Jobs recovering from liver transplant; re-ignites debate over privacy rights

Apple CEO Steve Jobs had a liver transplant in Tennessee about two months ago and is said to be recovering well, according to a Wall Street Journal report that cites unnamed sources. Jobs still is expected to return to work later this month, as expected, though he may come back on a part time basis.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs had a liver transplant in Tennessee about two months ago and is said to be recovering well, according to a Wall Street Journal report that cites unnamed sources. Jobs still is expected to return to work later this month, as expected, though he may come back on a part time basis. (Techmeme)

The Journal sent Jobs an email seeking comment but received no reply. Company spokeswoman Katie Cotton provided the Journal with a brief statement: "Steve continues to look forward to returning at the end of June, and there's nothing further to say."

The report goes on to debate whether the company should have disclosed to shareholders that Jobs was going to undergo surgery, especially because Jobs was on medical leave at the time and not running the company. The newspaper quotes a Washington lawyer who counsels corporate boards on governance matters but has never advised Apple as saying that material information only needs to be disclosed if shareholders are being asked to make a decision based on that information.

So that brings us back to the big question that's been out there since Jobs illness became an issue after his appearance at last year's Worldwide Developer's Conference. When it comes to Steve Jobs' medical condition, which is more important: Jobs' right to privacy or the public's right to know?

Previous coverage: Jobs' medical leave: right to privacy vs right to know

When Steve was running the show, I would have absolutely said that the shareholders have a right to know if the CEO is seriously ill. After all, as the face of Apple, Jobs has put himself in the spotlight as the company's pitchman for the cool must-have gadgets that Apple is famous for. If something happened to him, it could have an impact on the company - and shareholders have a right to know that.

But in this case, I have to say that it's none of anyone's business if Steve Jobs is undergoing treatments of any sort - whether it be a simple blood test or a transplant. Steve, in essence, walked away from the company and left Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook holding the reins.

Under Cook, the company managed to get through Macworld and a developer's conference, as well as launch a new iPhone, a new iPhone OS and readjust the notebook lineup and price list. Just this week, people once again lined up to be the first to get their hands on a new iPhone.

Steve Jobs is a great pitchman but he alone does not make Apple the company it is.

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