Jobs to take medical leave; Cook in charge; Will Jobs appear at WWDC?

Jobs to take medical leave; Cook in charge; Will Jobs appear at WWDC?

Summary: Updated: Apple CEO Steve Jobs said Wednesday that he will take a medical leave until the end of June to focus on his health. In the meantime, chief operating officer Tim Cook (right) will take over day-to-day operations.

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Updated: Apple CEO Steve Jobs said Wednesday that he will take a medical leave until the end of June to focus on his health. In the meantime, chief operating officer Tim Cook (right) will take over day-to-day operations.

The news (Techmeme, Apple statement) is likely to start succession planning talk at Apple. Jobs is wrestling with "a hormonal imbalance" and speculation about his health has been rampant. Given the news it only seems prudent that Apple create and disclose a succession plan of some sort.

The timing of Jobs return is also notable since it's an open question whether Jobs would make an appearance at Apple's WorldWide Developer Conference this summer. It also should be noted that Jobs handed the reins to Cook for a month in 2004 when he had a tumor removed for pancreatic cancer. Jobs returned after a short rehabilitation period.

In an email to employees, Jobs wrote:

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple's day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

In a nutshell, Apple will have almost six months without Jobs at the helm. The thing to watch will be how Apple's product cycle goes. If Apple keeps churning out hits it'll be a good sign for the future health of the company. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, one of Wall Street's most bullish analysts on Apple, is upbeat:

We believe that during Jobs' absence, Apple's sales will be unaffected; in other words, Apple's customers will not stop buying products because of his absence. More importantly, we believe the pace of innovation will remain solid, driven by key product-minded executives. From an operational perspective, we expect Cook to maintain the same standard of excellence that he demands as COO.

For now though Apple shares are taking a hit, down roughly 6 percent from their market closing price of $85.33.

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Munster continues:

Regardless of Jobs' near-term health concerns, we believe investors should be considering the future of Apple's leadership. While the iconic leadership of Steve Jobs cannot be fully replaced, we believe his core attributes as a CEO, operationally and with products, can be replicated. Tim Cook provides the operational expertise for the company, which would serve him well as Apple's CEO. In terms of Apple products, Jonathan Ive and several software executives have played a key role in designing the innovative technology that has spurred Apple sales in recent years. Together, we believe that Cook and the other leaders at Apple can effectively replicate the elements of Steve Jobs' leadership that have been critical to his success as CEO.

Jobs' email comes just a few days after a Macworld confab that was disappointing overall. Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller didn't have a lot to work with in the announcement department.

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23 comments
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  • unfortunately sounds serious

    Or maybe not, but we have no choice but to try to read between the lines because obviously neither Steve nor Apple will give us the full story. What else can you say? More complex than he originally thought, leaving work, scheduled to return in late June - no explanation or words of encouragement, just more complex than he originally thought . . .reading between the lines this does not sound good. Best wishes to Steve and his family.
    eggmanbubbagee@...
    • Pancreatic cancer back record

      For the record, the cancer in question was an islet cell neuroendocrine tumour, which isn't as serious as most pancreatic cancers if caught in time, which this one was - we're not talking a Swayze case here. However, the fact that a hormonal imbalance has followed is suggestive of a deeper metabolic disfunction, which may be a precursor for metastatic consequences - it's probably as well to clear the decks now as a result. Hopefully we now know enough to address the situation and he will be back in fighting fettle in a few months.
      JelMin
    • I hope he comes through this...

      ..like or loathe Apple we should all be hoping the treatments work out for him.
      Sleeper Service
  • RE: Jobs to take medical leave; Back in the summer

    Hope he recovers quickly and is back to good health.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Good lesson to learn

      Years of tripping on acid doesn't do a body good.
      mikefarinha
  • I said it once, I'll say it again...

    Unlike Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs isn't surrounded by a bunch of sycophants. Mr. Jobs has groomed a team of very capable and highly qualified people to take over in his absence. Lets all pray for Steve and wish him a speedy and full recovery.
    gregory.dworak@...
    • The market doesn't agree. AAPL is taking a bit hit...

      ...in after hours trading. It'll be a blood bath tomorrow.

      As for Mr. Jobs I wish him well.
      ye
      • Trading was halted

        It will be interesting to see what
        happens tomorrow.

        The market is not known as
        sentimental.
        j.m.galvin
        • I read that it was halted. However that doesn't appear...

          ...to be the case.
          ye
    • [b]Just[/b] like Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer

      would be more appropriate

      There is no indications that [i]Jobs has groomed a team of very capable and highly qualified people to take over in his absence[/i]

      Minor absence, for the short term, [i]maybe[/i] yes.

      But in the sense that they will not let things move backwards, moving forward is another thing alltogether.
      GuidingLight
    • That's silly...

      To suggest the likes of Ray Ozzie are incompetent sycophants is ridiculous.
      Sleeper Service
  • I'll take it as it states

    Basically, at this point, Jobs
    expects to return full time at the
    end of June.

    The reality is that anything could
    happen between now and then.
    Not just to Jobs, but to any
    corporate exec in this country.

    As long as the board has a handle
    on the situation I don't believe that
    we need to know all of the minute
    details, now should we be involved
    in uneducated discussions as to
    his current situation.
    Ken_z
  • Steve Jobs - RIP

    If he worked through a nutritional problem, you'd think he could work through the nutritional treatments. THerefore, cancer's back.

    He's probably going to get chemo, and panreatic cancer doesn't respond well at all if it reoccurs.

    He's done.
    croberts
    • Are you talking as a medical doctor

      or just someone who doesn't like anything related to
      Apple?
      Ken_z
  • RE: Jobs to take medical leave; Back in the summer

    Gee, give a man a break and he needs a vacation.
    This man brought Apple from a disorganized computer company to an major player in the computer and home entertainment world.
    I don't know what he has but like any human being that worked this hard he deserves a break and I wish him well.
    I hope that this period of time will give him some time to rejuvenate himself and have a stronger Apple in summer of 2009.
    phatkat
  • RE: Jobs to take medical leave; Back in the summer

    Your correct.
    A good manager always grooms good leadership so they can take a vacation or do other things without hand holding the company or worrying about an Coup of the company.
    This break from work will allow Steve Jobs to see his handy work in grooming management and allow Steve Jobs to see how Apple runs without him at the helm.
    It is very important for any good company to groom good leadership so that any person in leadership role can go on vacation or other things so that company will continue without worrying employees and stakeholders.
    Enjoy your medical leave and come back rejuvenated in summer Steve Jobs.
    phatkat
  • Well I of course hope for the best.....

    Still I know the stock market will over react. Still that in a
    way is an assurance too me. After all the stock market and
    the geniuses on Wall Street have proven to be not nearly as
    smart and wise as one would have thought all those
    college ivy league educations and resumes would have
    indicated. In fact based on the current state of the
    economy I would have too think that these smart people
    are well COMPLETE MORONS!!!! So to sum it up I don't take
    a hit of the stock market for Apple based on a single
    CEO"s medical condition to be again all that wise.

    Still in the end I HOPE Steve will recover and return. Yet I
    also feel secure that Steve has left his mark on Apple.
    What with being a founder and being tossed out then his
    return and saving of his baby. By doing that by showing
    how things could and would be without embrassing his
    philosophy his leaving and returning has shown everyone
    there that his way is the way for Apple. So I feel confident
    that the lesson has been taught.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
  • He is just one Apple employee. Please respect other Apple staffs.

    Why does Apple need to fail just because one executive staff take a long break? That's insane.

    How about the Apple employees around the world? Do you guys think they will just sit around doing nothing ? Do you think we will never have a new Ipod ever just because Jobs isn't around?
    Dealing
    • true, Jobs is just another executive staffer . .

      the one who single handedly brought Apple back from the trash heap thus performing the 'greatest second act in the history of business', ever. I think you need to brush up on your history here. He drives the innovation with his vision, his inspiration, and his uncompromising and authoritarian leadership and that's a fact. Those are all qualities unique to him and there is no one out there who can step in and be like Jobs.

      He is also the man behind the cool and we have already seen what kind of hit the reality distortion field takes when someone else takes the stage. A lot of Apple's success is based on this mojo which makes slightly above average products sparkle with pixi dust. (OK, the iPhone may be more than slightly above average, at the moment).

      I don't think anyone is claiming Apple will fail but it does seem unlikely they can keep topping themselves with groundbreaking products without Steve and that's exactly what they need to do to keep their lofty position and beat back the army of competent competition out there.
      eggmanbubbagee@...
      • What about...

        ...the genius that is Jonathan Ive and the rest of the
        industrial design team? Those guys, along with the
        software development team, are the real reason Apple
        came back from the brink. Ive had designed the iMac
        [i]before[/i] Jobs was back at the helm. I am not belittling
        Jobs contribution, he is an excellent salesman with an eye
        for design and good ideas, ut I think the herd are a little
        naive to think that one man single handedly revived Apple.
        Steve Jobs built a talented team and focused them. Calm
        down people, it's not the beginning of the end for Apple,
        just, perhaps, the stat of something new...
        SimonUK