Steve Jobs Resigns As Apple CEO

The head of one of America’s most successful companies is stepping down:

Silicon Valley legend Steve Jobs on Wednesday resigned as chief executive of Apple Inc in a stunning move at the technology giant he co-founded in a garage.

The 55-year-old Apple co-founder and pancreatic cancer survivor has been on medical leave for an undisclosed condition since January 17.

Apple said Steve Jobs has been elected chairman and Tim Cook has been elected CEO.

Unfortunately, this probably means that Jobs’ cancer has returned.

Update: More details from Business Wire:

CUPERTINO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apple’s Board of Directors today announced that Steve Jobs has resigned as Chief Executive Officer, and the Board has named Tim Cook, previously Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, as the company’s new CEO. Jobs has been elected Chairman of the Board and Cook will join the Board, effective immediately.

Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” said Art Levinson, Chairman of Genentech, on behalf of Apple’s Board. “Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team. In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.”

“The Board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” added Levinson. “Tim’s 13 years of service to Apple have been marked by outstanding performance, and he has demonstrated remarkable talent and sound judgment in everything he does.”

Jobs submitted his resignation to the Board today and strongly recommended that the Board implement its succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO.

As COO, Cook was previously responsible for all of the company’s worldwide sales and operations, including end-to-end management of Apple’s supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries. He also headed Apple’s Macintosh division and played a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships, ensuring flexibility in response to an increasingly demanding marketplace.

And here’s the text of Jobs’ letter:

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

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.

Steve

 

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    This is one of the greatest leaders in the history of American business.

  2. Anon says:

    I’ve never been a fan of Apple (just not for me), but regardless, this sucks.

  3. Dazedandconfused says:

    iGone…?

  4. @michael reynolds:

    One of the most successful anyways, and he was certainly one of the best at the art of marketing ever. I’m not sure I’d categorize him as a great leader, though.

  5. Drew says:

    Uh-oh. This cannot be good, and is a genuine human tragedy. For those so disposed: pray. For others, please acknowledge an extraordinarily productive life well conducted.

  6. anjin-san says:

    One of the most successful anyways, and he was certainly one of the best at the art of marketing ever.

    Apple has excellent marketing, but that is not the reason for their success. As a product development company, they are part of a very, very elite group. They have a remarkably democratic approach to product development. They create products to serve the needs of their customers – even if they did not yet know they had the need.

    A very different and vastly superior method than that practiced by much of corporate America – “We’re bigger than you are, take what we give you and live with it”.

    I suspect this means Jobs’ health is declining, but I hope not. In the annals of American business and industry, he is a titan in a time when the landscape seems to be dominated by small men.

  7. @anjin-san:

    Apple has excellent marketing, but that is not the reason for their success. As a product development company, they are part of a very, very elite group. They have a remarkably democratic approach to product development. They create products to serve the needs of their customers – even if they did not yet know they had the need.

    But they don’t develop products. They take products other people developed and figure out how to package them to be attractive to consumers, particularly fashion concious urban thrity-somethings.

    But again, that merely speaks to his success. When I said I wouldn’t consider him a great leader, I meant that he doesn’t have a lot of the traits beyond being merely successful that I would expect a great leader to have. For example, he’s long been known for having a temper and micromanaging the people under him.

    A very different and vastly superior method than that practiced by much of corporate America – “We’re bigger than you are, take what we give you and live with it”.

    Funny, outside the RDF, the “you’ll take what we give you and like it” attitude is one of the things Apple is best known for…

  8. Jay says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I would say that Apple used to develop original products the democratic way, but has since abandoned that practice for packaging…I think it started around the introduction of iTunes, which up until that point, was their most top-down product ever. In the good old days, they pumped out new ideas with every OS. But I’ll still miss Jobs.

  9. Franklin says:

    I don’t really use Apple products and don’t necessarily like some of their approaches, but I’ve got to hand it to Jobs. They are now extremely productive, innovative, and competitive, largely due to his vision. It’s very sad to see his condition worsen.

  10. anjin-san says:

    @Stormy

    Yea, now that Apple is top dog, it’s kind of trendy to sneer at them. Most of the people I hear doing it do not have IT backgrounds. I have been a heavy user of computers since the dawn of the PC era, and Apple has pretty much always had vastly superior products. Now you can say a lot of the original thinking was done by Xerox at PARC, or by Douglas Engelbart, and there would be some truth to that, but damn near everything is derivative to some extent.

    Job’s NeXT OS, which is the primitive beginning of OSX, was full of original thinking, light years beyond what was available at the time. OSX was a huge breakthrough, Windows is a joke compared to it. Only now has Microsoft, with all it’s vast resources, started to close the gap. I have buddies who are hardcore Java programmers that used to roll their eyes at my macs. When OSX came out, most of them went out and bought macs.

    The iPhone is absolutely a breakthrough, game changing product, and I say that as someone who was in that industry when the StarTac was cutting edge. Microsoft and many other flailed at tablets for many years and got nowhere. Apple came along with the iPad, an amazing device, and made it nearly essential overnight. If all they do is repackage other peoples ideas, explain to me what just happened to HPs tablet.

    I could go on and on (and on), but why bother? To say

    But they don’t develop products. They take products other people developed and figure out how to package them to be attractive to consumers.

    just makes me not take you very seriously. As for

    particularly fashion concious urban thrity-somethings

    , well, most of the successful people I know are mac users, and they are all over 40.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    Someone in this thread said that Apple took what others developed and repackaged it. This strikes me as largely true, and it has been true from the beginning. In the eighties Byte Magazine interviewed him and the reporter tentatively brought up the fact that Apple was getting credit for developing the desktop paradigm (it was the 80’s, you could still say “paradigm”) for personal computing, when in fact it was developed years before by Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center. His reply: “I consider PARC a national resource. Lord knows Xerox doesn’t use it.”

    What Apple had under Jobs (and quickly lost completely during the period when he was out of the company) was the relentless determination to make products that truly provided real value and vastly superior ease of use to their customers. And the reason they were able to do that was because they had an unbelievably powerful and hands on CEO who could simply say that a product was not ready for the market, never mind that it had been in development for 2 years or 10 (or even 20 aka the iPad). I can’t think of a single other company that has a CEO with the same outlook, along with the determination to see it through and the power to pull it off. My (sad) guess? In four years Apple will be in serious trouble.

  12. anjin-san says:

    @Stormy – You should give a little thought to the difference between a product and a category. A product is what a company takes to market. It may be derivative, it may be addressed at a market developed by others and so on, but Apple does develop it own products. Personally I love them, and have been buying them long before they went mainstream. If you prefer PCs. well, different strokes for different folks.

  13. michael reynolds says:

    Around 1998 or so my wife and I were writing ANIMORPHS which was a very successful sci fi series for kids.

    When we wanted to do a follow-on series everyone said, “Do more sci fi.” We said, “No, because the next big thing will be fantasy.” We were guessing which way the market would go. And we were absolutely right. The market did go to fantasy.

    In 1999 we put out a fantasy series called EVERWORLD.

    In 2000 some woman named Rowling put out a fantasy series called HARRY POTTER.

    Guess who gets credit for bringing fantasy to middle grade and YA? That’s right: Rowling.

    Now guess who deserves the credit. Still Rowling. You know why? Because she delivered a better product, and she sold it, and she succeeded.

    It’s important to be honest about these things. Quibbling that Jobs wasn’t first at everything is irrelevant. He started in his garage and built the biggest company in the United States. He changed the world. The other guys didn’t.

  14. Anon says:

    I’m not a fan of Apple, but saying that they are just marketing or packaging is giving them short shrift. Yes, they are definitely good at marketing. But they are also much more than that. In fact, I would say that what makes Apple successful is that they put it all together. They have vision, technical know how, marketing, supply chain, etc.

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds: I second Michael’s point. I can’t remember ever hearing Jobs claim to be first with some technology. Disparaging him for not creating “firsts” is fine if that’s what floats your boat, but just know that it’s not the metric he is using to judge Apple’s success.

  16. anjin-san says:

    Disparaging him for not creating “firsts”

    It’s about like downplaying Henry Ford’s significance because Ford did not invent the automobile.

  17. anjin-san says:

    Interesting sidebar about Ford, he co-founded the Kingsford Charcoal company. Ford’s manufacturing process produced a lot of scrap wood. Ford was an avid fan of BBQ, which at the time was reserved largely for the wealthy. Ford brought it to the masses, and made money selling what had until then been a waste product.

  18. @anjin-san:

    Yes, but Ford completely changed the way manufacturing companies operate, the way durable goods are bought and sold, the nature of the relationship between businesses and their employees (both for good and bad). His influence affected society in ways far beyond merely the activities of his company.

  19. Neil Hudelson says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Your wife is Ms. Applegate? I started reading the Animorphs in 5th grade. For the next few years I was an animorphs junkie. I kept reading them until the series finished (and I was long past the target age demographic). What a great series! I read one or two of the Everworld books (travel back in time to the Vikings, right?), but again I was a bit out of the age demographic by then. I thought that one had a lot of potential too.

    Young Kid Neil just wanted to say Thank You.

  20. mattb says:

    Couple quick thoughts…

    1. ++ Michael’s comments

    2. My sad prediction — based on what I know of Jobs and from private discussions with people who have had semi-regular personal dealings with him for years — is that he probably won’t be with us next year at this time. Generally speaking he isn’t the type of person to “retire” or give up a CEO-ship to persue other work (a la Bill Gates).

    3. The entire “stealing from PARC” might have characterized the birth of “Lisa”/1984, but, since Job’s return, the fact is that most of the development has come from internal “genius” (and that term is used with its full weight).

    4. Jobs brilliance is that he’s a magnificent bastard – especially in that he’s not afraid to let anything get in the way of experience, including the company’s own user base. Their unabashed willingness to quickly sunset support for old equipment and OS’s (versus say Microsoft that is still supporting 10 year old operating systems) is amazingly) is a key factor in this. It’s completely counter intutive and completely brilliant. And it could have blown up in his face. I have a hard time seeing Apple continuing as “Apple” without him at the wheel.

    5. More so than the iPhone, the App Store will be his great legacy. In a few short years it fundamentally revolutionized how software is priced and distributed. Granted, this couldn’t have been possible without the technology infrastructure provided by teh phones and iOS, but it’s still the most important revolution in years.

  21. mattb says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Yes, but Ford completely changed the way manufacturing companies operate, the way durable goods are bought and sold, the nature of the relationship between businesses and their employees (both for good and bad). His influence affected society in ways far beyond merely the activities of his company.

    I’ argue that Apple (and Jobs) did something very similar with the iPhone and the App Store. And to a lesser degree with Mp3’s & iTunes.

  22. anjin-san says:

    @mattb- you beat me to the punch…

  23. michael reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    Thanks. Morph on.