Shocked? Not really. Should shareholders be worried? You bet. Steve Jobs, is by far, the most innovative and creative leaders of our time. He has taken Apple from the brink of bankruptcy to being the most powerful, innovative company in the world in the last decade.
We all know what happened to Apple the first time Jobs exited stage left. So should shareholders be worried of a repeat? I think maybe so. This is not to say that Cook is not or cannot lead an effective organization, continue to grow, and that he would not do the right thing for the valuation of the firm. However, when an iconic leader steps aside I don’t believe we fully understand the impact. I don’t think it will affect Apple’s ability to compete, at least not in the short-term. They are so far ahead of everyone else in delivering innovative technology, UIs, and thinking about competition differently it would take a substantial effort to beat Apple at their own game. However, with a global economy they should be worried about two kids in a garage and keep the mindset that they must continually innovate to stay ahead of the competition.
As rapidly as technology changes, you have to wonder if Steve Jobs has built sustainability into his organization that will last well after he is gone. I tend to believe not. The power of iconic leaders to motivate and engage employees, clients, and shareholders is very difficult to replicate. So I have to assume that all of the goods that come with great leadership might also dissipate once a great leader moves on. The proof will be how Apple adapts as an organization to a changing of the guard and my guess is that in 3-5 years we will know if Apple has significantly changed or if they will be able to maintain their edge. Time will tell.
Steve Jobs resigns from Apple, Cook becomes CEO | Reuters Steve Jobs resigns from Apple, Cook becomes CEO | Reuters.