- Oct 8, 2005
- Melbourne, VICTORIA - AUSTRALIA
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has resigned, making way for operations chief Tim Cook
APPLE'S ailing chief executive Steve Jobs is officially stepping down from the helm of the company, an historic shift that hands the reins to chief operating officer Tim Cook.
The company said Mr Jobs submitted his resignation to the board of directors on Wednesday and "strongly recommended" that the board name Mr Cook as his successor. Mr Jobs has been elected chairman of the board and Mr Cook will join the board, effective immediately, the company said.
Apple's shares fell 5.6 per cent in after-hours trading on the news.
"The Board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO," said Art Levinson, chairman of Genentech and Apple board member, in a statement. He added that Mr Jobs will "continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration."
Mr Cook, 50, has been widely considered as the leading candidate to succeed Mr Jobs, who has been on medical leave since January. The 13-year Apple veteran, who joined the company shortly after Mr Jobs took over the company for the second time in 1997, has been running the day to day operations during this period as he has done during two prior medical leaves of absence by Mr Jobs in the last seven years.
"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," Mr Jobs said in his resignation letter. "Unfortunately, that day has come."
The timing of the announcement, however, was a surprise and raised questions about the health of Mr Jobs, who was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004 and underwent a liver transplant two years ago. Mr Jobs has not commented on his health since he said in a letter in January that he was taking another leave of absence to "focus on my health". He made an appearance at the launch of the iPad 2 in March and Apple's annual developers' conference in June but appeared thin both times.
People familiar with the situation have said 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.
Still, Mr Cook faces a big challenge in stepping into Mr Jobs's shoes because he must prove that Apple can succeed without Mr Jobs. Mr Jobs not only co-founded the company, but brought Apple back from near bankruptcy when he returned to the company in 1997. He is considered the visionary behind the company and has played a key role in reviving the Macintosh computer business and developing new products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
"Great companies rarely go from strength to strength," said Charles O'Reilly, a management expert, at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, adding that Apple faces a particular challenge in that Mr Jobs has had an unusually strong influence in setting Apple's corporate culture and strategy.
Mr Cook, an Alabama native who previously worked for International Business Machines Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp., is known as an operational genius, who was instrumental in wringing out inefficiencies in Apple's manufacturing and setting up its supply chain in China. Since then he has gradually increased his responsibilities, becoming chief operating officer in 2005. He has also ably led the company during Mr Jobs's absences in the past.
But people who know him don't consider him to be a visionary. Unlike Mr Jobs, who is a legendary showman, Mr Cook has also tended to stay outside of the spotlight apart from quarterly earnings calls with analysts.
"I believe Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it," Mr Jobs wrote. "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," he added.
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