With all the claims here that Jobs will be forced to leave Apple, here is an interesting question to consider. What would happen to Apple if Jobs DID leave?
No question that AAPL would take a huge hit short-term, but what about after the smoke has cleared?
Is it a given that Apple would self-destruct, or is it possible that they keep going as they have been over the last few years? Has Jobs changed the culture at Apple enough since his return that it can keep on innovating without him?
Gates has, effectively, left Microsoft without impact, but of course, Microsoft had not exactly been firing on all cylinders before he left. Many saw his departure as a good thing. But what about Apple?
What if Jobs had suddenly needed to leave Apple for personal or health reasons? What if he decided to become the CEO of Disney? Is it possible that he has seen to it that Apple can go on without him?
I am not sure what the answer is. I'm just putting it out there. Everyone who claims he will be forced out seem to, implicitly, assume that spells doom for Apple. But is that really the case? I'm not sure.
I think Schmidt get's at least the interim CEO slot if anything were to happen to Jobs. Maybe a 5% chance that Jobs is in any real danger.
Longer term I'm more worried about Jobs cancer coming back then this stock option mess causing him trouble.
All this news does highlight one key thing for AAPL. They really should have a contingency plan for Jobs. Berkshire has been vocal in recent years about one for Buffet & Munger.
AAPL needs to address this issues. If they had a good plan, with some leading "stars" on the bench, then this whole issue would not be nearly the issue it is currently.
One would hope that any company would have a succession plan in place. As you note, there are many reasons why a high-profile CEO might suddenly have to leave a company (or worse). Even so, some companies fail to do so.
As I noted, when Jobs was fired in the 1980s, it was because the Apple board did not think that his approach was the correct one, so it stands to reason that they did not continue to do what Jobs might have done.
Moreover, what Jobs might have done back then may not have been the way to go anyway. Jobs had the virtue of being passionate about Apple's products and demanding "insanely great" but he also made decisions that were only "insane" such as forbiding the original Mac from having network connectivity because he saw networks as being part of the "establishment" that helped corporations to maintain control over individual employees/users. So he was far from infalible.
Jobs has clearly matured a great deal since then and perhaps part of that maturity is the realization that he cannot do it all himself with only a small group of "pirates" within the company. Hopefully, he has made certain that Apple as a company has been instilled with the underlying values and capabilities to allow them to carry on without him and still recoginze the need for, and push the limits of, innovation and design.
Apple will do fine with or without Steve. The stock will dip then will turn around once the street gains confidence with the new CEO.
There is a lot of options for great leaders at Apple,
Steve Jobs will be leaving sooner or later, like all of us do.
But it is absurd to say he is not replaceable.We are all replaceable. Even if someone is the equivalent of two or three persons working simultaneously, the solution is, well, to hire two or three individuals to work simultanously. :)
Apple has many talented individuals, some of them may one day rise to the task of leading it.
On the other hand, many CEO's of successful companies would take Steve's position in a heartbeat. Think
just don't come close to microsoft's execs!
I am not saying that he will have to go and I agree that he probably will not. I have just gotten so tired of the constant bickering about whether he will go that I decided it might be more constructive to consider what might really happen to Apple if Jobs does leave.
I also agree with the other poster who points out that Gates leaving MS is different because MS was not exactly doing so great under Gates anyway. As I said, many felt that Gates stepping down was a much needed change.
But Apple has often been thought of as a "Steve Jobs personality cult." The implication is that Jobs IS Apple and without him, the company is lost.
On one hand, Apple's near demise after Jobs was fired in the 1980s would seem to confirm this theory. But both Jobs and Apple are much different than they were in the 1980s.
We can only hope that Jobs and Apple have long realized that he cannot run Apple forever. If nothing else, he will have to retire eventually. The question is whether Apple and Jobs have cultivated a "deep bench" such that Apple can carry on in "Jobs' spirit," as it were, even without him.
The truth is, I do not know if this is the case. I do not know enough about Apple's upper-management. If anyone does have any insights into Apple's inside operations, perhaps they could shed some light on this issue.
Does Apple have other people who could see to it that Apple continues to innovate and produce products that capture the imagination of the marketplace? Or is it Jobs who does all this and, if he leaves, will Apple become "just another company"?
There is no point in speculating about what Jobs did or did not do and whether he will be forced out. We just do not have the facts and we will find out soon enough.
But it may actually be of some use to speculate about whether, in a worse-case scenario, this would actually cause Apple's downfall.
Gates left Microsoft after it started going downhill. Microsoft can no longer make good products in my opinion. The only thing it does well is to come out with new versions "Office" after making minor changes to "Office".