Steve Jobs nearly died and lied about it

Summary:Paul Argenti of Dartmouth's business school says Apple deserves to face SEC action for lieing about Jobs' condition, which is the outgrowth of his 2004 pancreatic cancer. I hate to be one of those birds pecking at Prometheus, but I agree.

NOTE: This may be the most controversial post I have done at ZDNet.

I did not intend to offend anyone, and I admit to a bias in favor of Steve Jobs. I thought long and hard before posting. But what if this had happened to Warren Buffett 25 years ago? Serious attention to disclosure rules could have limited the Bernie Madoff scandal, and prevented other harms against investors, including earlier accusations of back-dating options against Apple itself, many involving Jobs.

We can't have one law for those we don't know and another for people we like.


UPDATE: Bloomberg reports the SEC is investigating what Apple knew about Jobs' condition and when it knew it.

For daring to steal fire from the Gods, it is said, Prometheus was chained to a rock and sentenced to having his liver pecked out by birds.

Steve Jobs can relate.

Not only did Apple come awfully close to losing Jobs over the last few months, but he will never be truly out of the woods.

The bottom line is that Jobs is very lucky to be alive following a liver transplant. The first successful liver transplant took place in 1967, but it did not become common until the 1980s, with the introduction of cyclosporine.

About 6,000 liver transplants are now done each year in the U.S., but the waiting list for organs averages 17,000. Those waiting lists could be reduced as more donors can now survive having part of their liver removed for transplant.

How and why did Jobs jump the queue? He was dying dieing faster than others, the company now admits.

Paul Argenti of Dartmouth's business school says Apple deserves to face SEC action for lying about failing to disclose Jobs' condition, which is the outgrowth of his 2004 pancreatic cancer.

I hate to be one of those birds pecking at Prometheus, but I agree.

This would not be the first time for Jobs on the SEC's operating table. He was questioned in a scandal over the backdating of stock options, with Jobs later telling Forbes "nobody loves me."

That's not true at all. What we don't like, and what we shouldn't be made to like, is a lie material to our investment. Apple is as dependent on Jobs as any U.S. company since Walt Disney, and he spent months denying he was knock, knock, knockin on heaven's door.

Jobs' January letter, calling his condition a "nutritional problem," was a lie from beginning to end. A straight-out, bald-faced lie. I complained about this possibility a year ago, and repeat the complaint.

Why, Steve? Were you embarrassed? Not want us to make a fuss? Don't like get well cards? Or were you trying to boost your own fortunes in case the liver didn't come and you actually did die?

It's hard to have to ask these questions, even though Jobs is reportedly back at work, because he is, and will remain, a very sick man.  Jobs will have to take drugs that suppress his immune system for the rest of his life. He's got a 9 in 10 chance of still being with us in 2014.

But a bird's got to peck where a bird's got to peck. And if the journalism gods tell you to peck at Prometheus' liver, that's what you do.

Topics: IT Employment, Apple, Banking, CXO

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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