Apple's Jobs being treated for 'hormone imbalance'; Will remain at helm

Updated: Apple CEO Steve Jobs said Monday in an open letter that he is being treated for a hormone imbalance that is causing his weight loss. In his letter, Jobs clarified his health issue following yet another round of deathbed rumors.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Updated: Apple CEO Steve Jobs said Monday in an open letter that he is being treated for a hormone imbalance that is causing his weight loss. In his letter, Jobs clarified his health issue following yet another round of deathbed rumors. Jobs added that he will remain CEO of Apple.

While concerns about Jobs' health are likely to persist the CEO's letter--and a statement by Apple's board of directors--makes a few things clear:
  • Jobs will remain as CEO;
  • Jobs is gaunt due to a hormone imbalance that is being treated;
  • The board will communicate if Jobs chooses to step down, but there's no evidence that option is on the table.

Overall, you'd have to chalk Jobs' letter up as a win. However, rest assured that Jobs' appearance at Apple's developer powwow this summer will closely watched for weight gain signs. Perhaps Jobs should get on the stage with a weigh-in. Succession planning worries are also likely to continue.

Here's the letter:

Dear Apple Community,

For the first time in a decade, I'm getting to spend the holiday season with my family, rather than intensely preparing for a Macworld keynote.

Unfortunately, my decision to have Phil deliver the Macworld keynote set off another flurry of rumors about my health, with some even publishing stories of me on my deathbed.

I've decided to share something very personal with the Apple community so that we can all relax and enjoy the show tomorrow.

As many of you know, I have been losing weight throughout 2008. The reason has been a mystery to me and my doctors. A few weeks ago, I decided that getting to the root cause of this and reversing it needed to become my #1 priority.

Fortunately, after further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause -- a hormone imbalance that has been "robbing" me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.

The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I've already begun treatment. But, just like I didn't lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this Spring to regain it. I will continue as Apple's CEO during my recovery.

I have given more than my all to Apple for the past 11 years now. I will be the first one to step up and tell our Board of Directors if I can no longer continue to fulfill my duties as Apple's CEO. I hope the Apple community will support me in my recovery and know that I will always put what is best for Apple first.

So now I've said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this.


Speculation about Jobs' health has ramped up in recent weeks ever since Apple said its CEO would skip the keynote at Macworld.

In a separate statement, Apple's board of directors said:

It is widely recognized both inside and outside of Apple that Steve Jobs is one of the most talented and effective CEOs in the world.

As we have said before, if there ever comes a day when Steve wants to retire or for other reasons cannot continue to fulfill his duties as Apple's CEO, you will know it.

Apple is very lucky to have Steve as its leader and CEO, and he deserves our complete and unwavering support during his recuperation. He most certainly has that from Apple and its Board.

What remains to be seen is whether the board will have to outline a relatively clear succession plan to placate investors. Highlighting Apple executives not named Steve Jobs is good first step.

Update: There's a bit of a tempest over whether Apple was forthright about Jobs' health when it announced that 2008 would be its last year at Macworld. When Apple announced that Jobs wouldn't do the keynote, the company said it didn't need expensive trade shows to reach customers. Apple made no mention of Jobs' health. Henry Blodget and Tom Krazit dutifully note that Apple failed to mention Jobs' health as a reason to not do the Macworld keynote.

Was Apple as transparent as it could have been? Probably not. But it's also unclear what Apple knew about Jobs' condition when it made the Macworld decision. It's also unclear whether Jobs' condition or the fact Apple didn't have any iPhone-ish product announcements drove the Macworld decision. It was probably a bit of both. And guess what? We'll never know. For now, Wall Street is viewing Jobs' news as a positive. A hormonal imbalance sure beats cancer no? Click to enlarge chart.

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