Steve Jobs resigned this afternoon as CEO of Apple. In an eight-sentence letter to the Apple board of directors and “the Apple community,” Jobs indicated that he “could no longer meet [his] duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO.”
The Apple board quickly elected Jobs chairman and accepted his recommendation to name chief operating officer Tim Cook as his successor. The company didn't reveal why Jobs felt he could no longer fulfill his obligations as CEO, but the obvious reason is his poor health. Jobs has been on medical leave since January of this year.
Jobs rarely makes the details of his medical conditions public. After he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003, he had the tumor successfully removed, and returned to work. But the tumor had apparently spread to his liver undetected. In 2009, doctors had to remove his liver and replace it with a transplant, during which Jobs took a six-month sabbatical. He caused quite a stir when he took a medical leave from his position at Apple in January of this year, for undisclosed reasons. Some doctors speculated that the cause for Jobs’s absence was either a recurrence of his pancreatic cancer or a complication with his liver transplant. Jobs turned 56 in February.
Investors have traditionally speculated that the presence of Jobs is intertwined with the price of Apple stock. However, the reaction to Jobs's departure was muted in after-hours trading: Apple stock fell 7 percent.
Cook is well esteemed in the Apple community. During Jobs’s six-month sabbatical in 2009, Cook oversaw a 60 percent increase in the price of Apple shares, after which the board of directors awarded him a $5 million bonus for outstanding performance.
Here’s the full text of Jobs’s 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.
Apple board members were quick to praise Jobs's tenure as CEO.
"Steve's extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world's most innovative and valuable technology company," Art Levinson, chairman of Genentech and an Apple board member, said in a statement.
He said that the board had full confidence in Cook, who has led the company during both of Jobs's leaves of absence. As Apple's chairman, Jobs will continue to serve Apple "with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration," Levinson said.
Jobs is "an icon and what he's done with Apple is something probably unprecedented in business," says IDC analyst Al Hilwa. "It will be a case study in business-school books for decades."
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Nancy Gohring of the IDG News Service and Megan Geuss contributed to this report.