Steve Jobs nearly died and lied about it

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.

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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

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441 comments
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  • Excellent Post...

    Dana;

    Those are some hard-hitting questions and a tough article to write. However, personal health issues is just that, personal. The difference rather than just keeping things private with Steve, he has chose to lie about it and further reveal his nature as a person. I am certain that it isn't the only thing he has ever really lied about in the first place.

    It's obvious to me and the rest of the world that this man is deceptive by nature, and trust me, this is very easy for me to comment on -- Still...

    One question that I personally have is that Did Steve tell his board members the truth about his illness, did he speak to his executives and level with them. If so, then that is one thing. Was he honest with them, and they plan accordingly. Was this something that his advisers or spin-doctors came up with to only tell the world?

    Listen Dana, as well written as this article you wrote is, I hope that your are wearing a flack jacket because you're gonna get a lot of (radio edit) over this one!

    When you say anything, anything against the god of Apple, his priests will come out and defend their god to the point of death, well past the word absurd and as you know, faith and reason are at odds when you strike against one's religion.
    Kromaethius
    • Medical leave is a protected right in California.

      You don't have to tell anyone at your company about the details. Deal with it.
      No More Microsoft Software Ever!
      • Thanks for the info

        I now wonder if Washington State, where I live, have a similar protection for its workers? Time to google around...
        FreddieT
      • Federal Vs. State

        Except California is apart of the United States not a seprate intinty. If the CA law is proven to conflict with the Fedral SEC mandate then the Federal law would trump any state and local laws. (this would be up to lawyers on both sides to fight over of course)
        roussopm
        • Fed vs State

          State laws trump Fed laws
          mrlinux
          • Um under what context?

            Surely you arent referring to the 10th Ammendment... power governing the Securities markets has been explicitly appointed to the federal government....
            JT82
          • Tenth Amendment

            "Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled."[

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution
            mrlinux
          • I can use wiki too

            "Under the Supremacy clause in article VI, paragraph 2 of the constitution, provides that the constitution and federal laws override any conflicting provisions in the state constitution or state laws."

            http://wiki.answers.com/Q/When_state_and_federal_laws_conflict_Why_does_federal_law_supercede_state_law
            roussopm
          • I know that..

            BUT see (and I get TRUELY scared when people cite Wikipedia, because its not always entirely factual) I knew that - hence read my post.

            The thing is, the Securities Exchange Commission is a Federal Entity charged with governing the rules regarding securities. So how has this power, to have a CEO disclose proper information to their investors.

            THUS there is no violation of the 10th Ammendment.
            JT82
          • See Body

            No
            roussopm
          • Fed vs State

            State law cannot trump federal.

            Federal Law is the supreme law of the United States. States running afoul
            end up in FEDERAL Courts.
            gjsherr
          • Not when it involves interstate commerce

            .
            jeverettk
          • If this were so then the state law in Mississippi

            banning interracial marriages would be valid despite the Federal laws against such statutes; however, that state law has been invalidated by the federal law. Federal laws trump state laws when there is a clear violation on the part of the state law.
            alaniane@...
        • Federal Vs. State

          I do not believe your trump reference applies in this situation. HIPAA and FMLA Laws are Federal and appear to counter any release of medical information and question of his job status & protection therein as a result of his medical condition. California regulations do go above and beyond in compliance but the Federal laws do exist and are still applicable nevertheless. It will be interesting to see how the varying laws are applied and which is given jurisdiction in court if the SEC goes that far.
          BrianStorm
          • And they won't because they can't.

            This whole blog and most of the responses is a red herring.

            Sorry, but it won't work. Apples share price will not fall because of this craziness.

            Nuff written already!
            No More Microsoft Software Ever!
          • I agree

            Which is in the original post I made. It would be a very intresting court case if it ever happened. (which it probably won't)
            roussopm
          • FED vs STATE vs tech geeks

            who know nothing about the law, yet won't stop posting about it. On a tech site. How helpful.
            compudog
          • as stated

            later in post when a individual who is a lawyer speaks up. read all f the post first dude.
            roussopm
          • As stated

            You mean read 100 posts to find one that's written by someone who isn't a geek braying about everything BUT the issue? I have. Ugh.
            compudog
          • Fair Enough

            I concede to that argument, and agree to your stance from reading your posts.
            roussopm