What It Means: Life After Steve Jobs
The world reacts to the departure of Apple's beloved CEO
Steve Jobs announced his resignation as Apple CEO late Wednesday evening, and reactions have been coming in from all across the internet. Jobs will keep his position as Chairman of the Board, but former Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will replace Jobs as CEO. Jobs was a hugely popular CEO, admired by consumers and tech reporters alike. "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," Jobs wrote in his letter to Apple employees and customers. Speculation over what this means for Apple, why Jobs decided to resign now, and what Jobs' legacy will be has been pouring in since the news of his resignation broke. The fawning eulogies for the departed CEO would imply that he's died, but this isn't a twitter hoax. He's sick, yes, but he's still here.
Here at Reuters, I made sure that I could work on a Mac before I accepted this job, and even though we’re standardized on PCs, you see Apples all over the company, up to and including the CEO’s office. None of that is going to change with Jobs’s departure as CEO. Does Apple still have an outsize personality who can slice away extraneous features on hardware, say no to the demands of the marketplace, and give us not what we think we want but what we never knew we wanted? I think it does: Jony Ive fits the bill quite nicely. And Apple’s amazing relations with its suppliers — the way that it can get chips and hardware into its devices that the rest of the world doesn’t can’t get its hands on for any amount of money — is now baked in to the organization, rather than being reliant on a single man.
The formula, then, is clear. And with or without Jobs, Apple is, for the foreseeable future, going to coin simply astonishing amounts of money. It made $7.3 billion of profit just in the last quarter, on revenues of an almost unimaginable $28.6 billion. That makes Apple of the most profitable companies the world has ever seen — and makes its stock look almost cheap, even at a market cap of $350 billion.
Nate Silver, of the The New York Times' Five Thirty Eight, tweets, "AAPL has lost $18 billion in market capitalization since the Jobs news broke, about the same as the GDP of Paraguay."
Jobs' resignation might mean the company will start making more deals for other companies, according to the Times' Dealbook writer Michael J. De La Merced. Apple's only purchased 18 companies since Jobs rejoined the company in 1997. New CEO Tim Cook has been involved in the company' acquisitions. As Merced points out, the bigest deal Jobs has been a part of is the Disney-Pixar sale. Apple has, "a $76.1 billion war chest as of late June, some have noted that Apple had enough financial firepower to buy Bank of America." We noted, around the same time, that Apple has enough money to buy Goldman Sachs.
Charles Golvin, an "analyst specializing in mobile technology at Forrester Research," told Times' Bits blogger Nick Bilton that the effect of Jobs' resignation won't be felt for another two years after the current wave of products in development would all have Jobs' deft touch. After that, though, he's slightly skeptical: “I think the key question is whether the Apple team will continue to work as effectively as a collaborative without the single person to rely on for the final decision.”
Gizmodo's Brian Barrett writes that the resignation came at the perfect time. Not just because, "the cardinal rule of bad news is that you bury it as late as you can," but because Apple is at the top of its' game right now. They're the Michael Jordan of tech companies:
Apple has literally never been stronger. A month ago they reported record quarterly earnings in a period with no significant product releases, no back to school or holiday boost, all amid what turned out to be a grotesquely challenging three months for competitors like Dell and HP. They were, for a brief period, the most valuable company in the world. Incredible.
And a month from now? They'll be releasing their next iPhone on America's three major carriers. And very possibly something altogether new: an affordable iPhone, a handset for the masses. If that device does emerge, Apple will have transitioned from yuppie luxury to unprecedented populist value.
Gawker's Ryan Tate is calling Jobs' successor Tim Cook "the most powerful gay man in america" in his profile of the new CEO, and his outlook for Cook's performance is bullish:
That said, it's clear Cook decision making authority will grow significantly—and that Apple is his show to run now. In the seven months since we profiled him, Cook's profile has only grown. Cook, who has not publicly discussed his sexuality, was named to the top of Out's list of powerful gays, yes, but he's also received greater recognition in the press for the incredible dividends Apple is reaping from its supply chain strategy, led by Cook, of using Apple's cash hoard to lock up crucial components for months or years, protecting products like the iPad from shortages, ensuring strong growth and margins for Apple and locking out would be rivals.
Brian Ries of The Daily Beast has a round up of tweets from Apple employees saying goodbye to their former boss. Mike Lee, an Apple senior engineer, said, "I knew this day would come. I didn't expect to cry."
TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington tweeted, "This just plain sucks."
Henry Blodget at Business Insider believes the company will be fine without Steve jobs. The five percent drop in Apple stock doesn't worry him, and he believes the market is optimistic for the company's future because the stock didn't fall more. His departure is a "tremendous blow" for the company, but the outlook for the company is fine because of how young the iPhone and Ipad are:
These two products are also very early in their lifecycles in terms of global market penetration. This means that Apple should be able to drive enormous growth in both categories for years without a revolutionary new vision. The company just needs to stay one step ahead of the competition and maintain its obsessive focus on user experience and quality. And the latter now appears to be deeply baked into Apple's DNA.
TechCrunch's Saul Hansel isn't very fond of Jobs. He compares him to old-school Hollywood studio boss and says it's, "fitting that Jobs is now the largest individual shareholder of the company founded by one of the 20th Century’s all time great perfectionists: Walt Disney." He compares working at Apple to being an Oompa Loompa at Willy Wonka's chocolate factory:
Everyone at Apple worked with the anxiety that they must meet the impossible demands of Jobs or endure his anger. To the public and even to Apple’s biggest partners the company was about as responsive as Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory; no one ever went in and no one ever came out. And yes to work at Apple was to accept the lot of an Oompa Loompa. The company took secrecy to such an extreme that employees were divided into small groups and ordered not to talk to each other, let alone anyone outside of the company.
The Economist's Will Wilkinson commented on the fawning reactions Jobs' resignation caused, "Class-war fact: Ruthlessly competitive, patent-monopolist, multi-billionaire executives are worth fawning over, if they've got design sense."
Walt Mossberg at All Things D writes why, of all CEO resignations in all the world, Jobs' matters most, and why his innovations will have the most lasting impact:
Most people are lucky if they can change the world in one important way, but Mr. Jobs, in multiple stages of his business career, changed global technology, media and lifestyles in multiple ways on multiple occasions.
He did it because he was willing to take big risks on new ideas, and not be satisfied with small innovations fed by market research. He also insisted on high quality and had the guts to leave out features others found essential and to kill technologies, like the floppy drive and the removable battery, he decided were no longer needed. And he has been a brilliant marketer, personally passionate about his products.