A new Wall Street Journal report has just surfaced on the paper's website stating that Apple CEO Steve Jobs received a liver transplant in Tennessee "about two months ago." He has been on leave since January for "an undisclosed medical condition" and been rumored to return soon.
The Journal reports:
"The chief executive has been recovering well and is expected to return to work on schedule later this month, though he may work part-time initially.
Mr. Jobs didn't respond to an email requesting comment. "Steve continues to look forward to returning at the end of June, and there's nothing further to say," said Apple spokeswoman Katie Cotton."
Why Tennessee? There are no residency requirements for transplants there, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, and the state's list of patients waiting for transplants is shorter than in many other states -- a median of 48 days, rather that the national median of 306, according to the article.
The article also reports that Jobs, 54, may be encouraged to initially "work part-time for a month or two" when he returns in June, leaving room for Apple COO Tim Cook to take on a bigger role, including a potential appointment to Apple's board "in the not-too-distant future."
At least some Apple directors were aware of the Jobs' surgery, according to the report, and some board members have been briefed weekly on his condition "as part of an agreement with Mr. Jobs in place before he went on leave." Jobs' health only impacts shareholders if they must make a decision based on it, according to an attorney quoted in the article.
The rest of the report goes into the medical implications of a liver transplant, but the latest news in the ongoing Jobs medical saga makes it clear that Apple is indeed in the midst of a turning point with regard to its public persona, which Jobs previously, and arguably still does, embody.
Apple long ago cemented its branding as innovative and hip, but Jobs has for most of those years has been the face of the company. With a pedigree that gives him credibility with geeks, a bohemian look (black turtlenecks) that recalls the clean lines of the company's products and a sense of presentation bravado that matches the "groundbreaking" nature of Apple products, Jobs has, in so many words, been synonymous with the company he built.
But as his health slips, it's clear that the company must soldier on in bolstering its reputation by convincing its supporters that Jobs isn't the sole source of innovation, but rather the most prominent example of it within the company.