COMMENTARY | Apple stock was down 5 percent Wednesday in after-hours trading on news that iconic founder Steve Job had relinquished the helm to his second in command, Tim Cook, formerly Chief Operating Officer.
Jobs has suffered from a number of serious health issues over the last several years, according to CNET News, prompting him to take an “indefinite leave of absence” on three separate occasions. Investors worry that the company will lose its competitive edge without the charismatic leader, and with good reason. Apple was all but run out of the PC business by rival Microsoft during the 11 years it operated without Jobs.
Jobs returned in 1996, riding high on his successes with Pixar, and NeXT – a pioneer in Object Oriented software development – ready to save the day. What sets Jobs apart from other top executives is his matchless ability to see the potential in fledgling technologies, scoop them up, and use them to create lucrative commercial products. Jobs didn’t invent the first Apple computer; Steve Wozniak did. LucasFilm developed the technology behind Pixar and then sold it to Jobs, who morphed it into a thriving enterprise.
With virtually no technical development skills of his own, Jobs has positioned himself as the go-to guy for the next big thing in technology. Can Apple prosper without him? Some signs say yes. Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook, has already served as acting CEO three times, according to Wired.com, during Jobs’ “indefinite leaves of absence.” The company’s upward trajectory didn’t waver one iota with Cook in charge, silencing the voices that declared the company dead each time Jobs stepped away.
Jobs, not normally one to share the spotlight, has been quick to credit Cook with co-engineering Apple’s rebirth after the downturn of the 1990s.
“After Tim came on board we basically reinvented the logistics of the PC business,” Jobs affirmed, referring to the radical changes Apple made in manufacturing processes post-1997. The company adopted the philosophy that inventory is “fundamentally evil,” Cook said, closing warehouses and drop shipping supplies on a strictly as-needed basis.
Apple groupies may bemoan the retirement of the man who has come to personify the company, but perhaps it’s premature to sound the death knell for Apple just yet. Steve Jobs may have one more trick up his sleeve. He may have perfected the fine art of grooming a successor to step into his shoes