It's been something that's been debated for some time: who would take over as Apple CEO when Steve Jobs left? When Steve Jobs returned from exile and became the CEO of Apple again in 1997, the company was reportedly just months from bankruptcy. Given that Apple is now trading spots with Exxon Mobil as No. 1 and No. 2 in terms of market capitalization (number of shares times share price, basically equal to company valuation), it's an amazing comeback.
As Steve Jobs leaves his post as CEO, he has been elected to be the Chairman of the Board of Apple. Meanwhile, COO Tim Cook, who has taken on the day-to-day responsibilities at Apple during both of Jobs' medical leaves (2009 and this year, as well), becomes CEO, effective immediately.
In 2004, Steve Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but it was a rare form that he recovered from; most cases of pancreatic cancer are fatal. In 2009, however, he took a medical leave of absence, and later, he had a liver transplant. It was suggested by medical experts that his pancreatic cancer had something to do with his need to liver transplant.
It's been expected that it would happen someday, and when he took his second medical leave in two years earlier this year, it seemed that time was coming. His gaunt appearance earlier this year led to some tabloid reports that he had only weeks to live.
Despite all this, Steve Jobs took the time in March to appear and introduce the iPad 2. He also attended a "tech summit" with President Barack Obama and other tech luminaries, and more recently appeared at a Cupertino City Council meeting to pitch Apple's new "spaceship" styled headquarters design.
Apple stock (AAPL) was at $376.18, +2.58 (0.69%) at the close of trading on Wednesday. After the news, in after-hours trading, Apple stock plummeted, dropping to $356.90, down $19.28 or -5.13 percent, at the time of this writing.
The fact that Jobs has resigned, for those who know his verve and drive, seems to bode ill for his well-being. Odds are that Jobs is doing so because his health is simply not allowing him to continue as CEO. That said, Jobs is and will always be secretive, and we may never know what was the final straw that drove him to resign.
For those interested, Apple has published the full text of Steve Jobs email to the Board of Directors, announcing his resignation. It says:
To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:As we noted earlier, the Board seems to have responded in a positive fashion to all of Jobs' requests. The Tim Cook era at Apple now officially begins, but never fear: sources told the Wall Street Journal that "Mr. Jobs continues to be active at Apple and is closely involved in the company's product strategy. Apple watchers don't expect that to change even after Mr. Cook takes over."
I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.
I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.
As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.
I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.