- Sep 24, 2010
Steve Jobs steps down as Apple CEO
Cancer survivor Jobs becomes chairman of technology company, nominating Tim Cook as his successor
Apple founder Steve Jobs, who has announced his resignation as CEO. Photograph: Robert Galbraith/Reuters
Steve Jobs has resigned as chief executive of Apple, to be replaced by its chief operating officer, Tim Cook, in a surprise move that may signal that the 56-year-old co-founder of the company is losing his battle with cancer.
The announcement was made at about 4pm Pacific time in a statement from Apple following a letter from Jobs, who said:
"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."
He added: "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."
In a statement on Wednesday night, Apple said that it had appointed Cook, who was recruited to the company by Jobs in 1997, and had elected Jobs chairman of the board.
Apple's shares fell by 7% in after-hours trading, as market digested the impact of Apple losing its charismatic leader, who had led it back from near-bankruptcy after rejoining in 1996 to become the world's most valuable company by market value earlier in August.
"Steve Jobs is not your typical CEO. He is both a visionary from a technology industry perspective as well as a micro-manager," said Ashok Kumar, an analyst at Rodman and Renshaw. "To say that he is instrumental or key in the turnaround of Apple's fortunes would be a gross understatement."
Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist, said: "I'm sad. He's the greatest entrepreneur ever."No reason was given for the resignation, but Jobs has been battling medical problems for the past seven years.
He was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer of the pancreas in 2003 and operated on in July 2004. Although he returned to work within a few months, in April 2009 he received a liver transplant. Medical observers suggested that the long-term effects of the required autoimmune drugs could mean that the cancer would return.
Jobs made a small number of public appearances in 2011, launching a new version of Apple's iPad tablet, attending a dinner with US president Barack Obama and other technology chiefs, fronting the launch of new software from Apple in June and presenting plans to the Cupertino council the next day. But he looked increasingly frail and thin, which looked increasingly like the effects of a spread of the initial cancer.
"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 and a member 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."
Analysts – who had previously pressed Apple to publicise its CEO succession plan, without success – said that Cook was a safe pair of hands, but wondered whether the company would have the same drive.
"[Tim Cook] is very highly regarded internally at Apple. From a succession perspective they could not possibly identify a better candidate. He has a track record to back it up," said Kumar.
"What Steve Jobs leaves behind is a very deep and a broad bench and so they will continue in his footsteps."Shannon Cross of Cross Research said: "It won't affect next the iPad or next iPhone. Apple's product line-up is well set. Steve, keep in mind, has been training people at Apple and there is a culture at Apple that is very strong."
The digital pioneer
Born and raised in San Francisco, Steve Jobs' career has charted – and often *defined – the rise of the digital era.He co-founded Apple in 1976 with Steve Wozniak and the company revolutionised computing. In 1985, after a sales slump, and Jobs' clashes with management, he was ousted. He went on to turn Pixar into one of the world's most famous animation studios.He returned to Apple in 1996 and what followed was the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, redefining not only computing but telecoms and the music industry.