Yesterday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs sent the following email to all Apple employees:
Team, At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.
I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.
I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.
It was almost two years to the day since he last took a 6-month medical leave of absence, undergoing a successful liver transplant; prior to that, he had surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2004.
Here's what the media has done with this information thus far:
—Is the company shirking its obligation to tell the marketplace more about Jobs’s condition?
—Time for Apple to say something on the record about a succession plan?
—Can Apple's stock withstand the absence of Steve Jobs?
—… there's an awful lot of money and an awful lot of trust riding on his future and I'm wondering if this 112-word disclosure of "See ya later, I've gotta go away for a while and I'll be back as soon as I can," —that's not good enough, is it? He owes Apple investors, employees, and even customers a better explanation than that, doesn't he?
On and on they go, from tech pundits to financial journalists, pondering just what's going on with Jobs and what it means for investors. What if he dies, what will happen to my mooooooney? is the not-quite-spoken-aloud sentiment.
Obviously, we're talking about a company with an unusually strong tie to its chief executive. Jobs has become the stuff of legend over the years, and there's no doubt his famed obsessive nature and refusal to compromise have helped create the business Apple is today.
Still, have we become so heartless we feel as we deserve insight into his private medical information? Does it seem right to you that in every article that's come out since his email was circulated, almost none took a moment to wish him well? As for the health of the stock, has it occurred to anyone that the 10 trillion articles hysterically questioning whether or not the price will drop as a result of Jobs' absence may have more to do with the stock's performance than anything else?
Here’s the thing. Apple’s been here before. Jobs missed most of 2009, and when he returned, it was a while before he got back to full time. The product cycle continued. Existing products were improved. New products were released. Future products progressed in development. Was it the same without him? No, of course not. Did the company function just fine? Yes.
Jobs’s leave of absence is cause for concern — and for good thoughts and well-wishes.
Do you feel Steve Jobs has an obligation to disclose his health issues?
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