Forbes: Picking a successor for Apple CEO Steve Jobs will be a tricky task

“Pity whoever has to follow Steve Jobs at Apple,” Brian Caulfield writes for Forbes. “Not every great company stumbles into oblivion after the departure of a visionary founder. The problem: Jobs has left once before, and until he came back, it looked like Apple would be one of those companies.”

“Whether a leadership transition takes place 12 months from now or two decades from now, picking a Jobs successor is a tricky task. ‘When you’re dealing with someone who really is a genius, it’s not like you can say, ‘Let’s go find ourselves another genius,” says Patrick Sweeney, executive vice president at Caliber, an organizational consulting firm,” Caulfield writes.

“The first time that Jobs tried to share leadership of Apple was a disaster. Pepsi President John Sculley, whom Jobs had picked as a mentor, ousted him in 1985–and the company began to crumble. Only when Jobs returned, about a decade later, was Apple able to surge from a computing also-ran to an innovator able to crank out products that shattered the status quo,” Caulfield writes. “Books have been written about why that happened. But here’s one intriguing thread: Sweeney says Jobs is the ultimate ‘ideational’ personality–someone able to find the links between seemingly unrelated ideas fluidly. The result is a company that has transitioned from strength to strength, moving from the Mac, to the iPod, to the iPhone.”

Caulfield writes, “Sculley could not create products that Apple customers didn’t know they wanted. Nor did Apple succeed under the sort of sharp-penciled manager able to turn a troubled company into a booming business. Gil Amelio, who cut costs and ground his way to profitability at National Semiconductor.”

Caulfield writes, “Apple will need much more than a skilled manager.”

Full article, in which Caulfield reports that “Jobs seems to have assembled a smartly functional team,” here.


  1. It may end up a team of people rather than just one. I think they’ve learned from ealier and other examples that you need a visionary, not a sales guy, in the top job. Ives has the vision, but dunno about his business acumen. Either way I’m sure Jobs will pick and train someone eventually.

  2. Team? Team? Who’s leading the team? No “team” ever succeeded without leadership. Caulfield points out the obvious – there is no one able and willing to assume the position of Great huckster and Tyrant (i.e CEO Steve Jobs). I suppose Caufield believes that a CEO at Apple is as obsolete as a PPC-based Sno’ Leopard.

    Apple has nothing left when Jobs dies but design by consensus and innovation by popular vote from the Keystone cops of Cupertino. Talk about lack of direction, purpose, and motivation. Since the link supplied by MDN does not work, I reckon the one person Caufield did not interview was Jobs himself. Still, I doubt that Jobs would reveal his choice for CEO, that would take all the attention away from him an his ego could not stand for someone else getting more press than himself. That would make Jobs as irrelevant as System 9.

  3. @ha, ha, ha

    Talking out of you ass again, eh, troll?

    The truth of the matter is that you don’t have the faintest idea what Jobs and Apple has planned for this eventuality. Apple has nothing left after Jobs goes? Again, your opinion is based on what you would like to believe.

  4. NCIceman,

    Either way I’m sure Jobs will pick and train someone eventually.

    “Will”, future tense fanboi, eh, fanboi? Keep clickin’ yer heels, Dorothy.

    If Plan A doesn’t work, there’s always Plan B. Maybe one of you fanbois would want to be a “donor”.

  5. Radius,

    The truth of the matter is that you don’t have the faintest idea what Jobs and Apple has planned for this eventuality.

    … and nether do you.

    Apple has nothing left after Jobs goes?

    Nothing but the memories.

    Again, your opinion is based on what you would … believe.

    Same as you, fanboi.

  6. Love how they check out their facts

    “Apple Chief Operating Officer Phil Schiller” isn’t that Mr Cook??

    Mr. Schiller is in charges of sales and marketing

    “while Jobs was out in 1994 for cancer surgery. “

    I thought he was out running Next in 94?

  7. You got to remember, Ha, ha, ha (what a stupid name) gets really upset when you remind him that his penis is orange from eating corn curls while reading Hustler in his parents basement.

  8. @ha ha ha

    Really? To believe a large corporation has a plan in place to eventually replace it’s CEO? That seems unlikely to you? Doesn’t it seem like wishful thinking on the part of a mindless troll to dream that a company will just dissolve once it’s CEO leaves? Nothing but memories? Who is to say the person who they are grooming to be the next CEO isn’t as good or better than Jobs? Or do you think that he actually does all the work at Apple? Poor, sad little troll, you’ve made my day.


  9. twodales,

    Ah, the consummate fanboi.

    “Please, please, MDN, only give me tripe, only feed me the sweet syrup of irrationality, the gooey goodness of wishful thinking, the succulent dessert of mindless propaganda, the detectible edibleness of nonsense, the mind-numbing flavor of foolishness.”

    You really don’t have to read my posts, but you seem inexorably drawn to them. Why?

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