How Apple taught Lazard to talk about CEO illness

“News that Lazard chief Bruce Wasserstein had been hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat didn’t hurt the investment firm’s shares too much, down just 1% in Monday trading,” Michael Corkery blogs for The Wall Street Journal.

“The lesson? Openess can be healthy,” Corkery writes. “That is in marked contrast to the experience at Apple.”

Corkery writes, “Jobs had been treated for cancer in 2004… Then in January, Jobs said he had a hormonal imbalance that was relatively straight forward to treat. About a week later, Jobs said he would have to take the next six months off for treatment. He eventually had to have a liver transplant.”

“By contrast, Lazard’s statement late Sunday night was short, but to the point,” Corkery writes. “Wasserstein, ‘has been hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat. His condition is serious, but he is stable and recovering,’ the statement said.”

Full article here.

[Attribution: AppleInsider. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “James W.” for the heads up.]

10 Comments

  1. “The lesson? Openess can be healthy,” Corkery writes. “That is in marked contrast to the experience at Apple.”

    Apple, who gets a new 52 week high every week. The case for what ‘not’ to do.
    *sigh.

  2. Is’nt this a case of comparing Apples and Oranges?

    Lazzard’s condition is a simpler one-off diagnosis and treatment.

    Steve Job’s problems were progressive from an incorrectly diagnosed problem and treatment, to other problems, and later to the need for a transplant. The information, considering privacy and uncertainty, seemed to me to be released responsibly.

    The speculation and uncertainty was not Steve’s or Apple’s fault.

  3. This is a totally different situation than Jobs’. I think the problem in his case was that Steve’s doctors didn’t even know, exactly, what his situation was, and the possible outcomes ranged wide (from diet change to death). So what was Steve supposed to do: release “I might have cancer” which would send the stock dropping? Or do like he did and try to keep the info private (at least until he knew what was going on)?

  4. During the period when Steve Jobs was absence (and Apple was keeping his private health information private), AAPL stock doubled. I think Apple and Steve Jobs managed news of his liver transplant very well, and acted responsibly to protect employee privacy and increase share-holder value.

    By the time they released the news, Steve Jobs had already recovered nicely, and since it was timed to coincide with the iPhone 3GS release, there was no negative impact on stock price. The only people upset by the news were the journalists and bloggers who were ticked off that they missed the opportunity to cover the story as it happened and paint doomsday scenarios for Apple.

    This blogger Michael Corkery is probably one of them. AAPL stock has more than doubled since the time Jobs went on medical leave. How is this a “lesson” that disclosing private employee health information is better?

  5. Actually Apple’s approach has been denial and obfuscation until leaked information (or the threat of a leak) has left them with no choice but to come clean.

  6. @ Conner MacBook

    If Apple had “come clean” (as you put it) and given daily press release updates about Steve Jobs’s private health situation, AAPL would have bottomed out at about $40 during the market downturn. And it would have caused major distractions for Apple’s executive team and the entire company. The media would have hysterically covered Steve Jobs and “the forthcoming demise of Apple” instead of Apple itself.

    But because of the calculated and controlled (typically Apple) way they did handle the news, Apple only dipped to about $80 even as Steve Jobs was having his operation. The executive team and the rest of Apple focused on executing their plans to perfection. The media almost forgot about Steve Jobs and even noted how Apple was performing just fine with Tim Cook in charge, giving investors and analysts confidence that Apple would continue to be successful, even if Steve Jobs decided to retire at some point. As a result, AAPL is now within 5% of its all-time closing high, at about $190.

    Steve Jobs (not Apple) picked his time and place to release news of his operation. It was NOT when there was “no choice but to come clean.” If was AFTER Steve Jobs had already recovered for two to three MONTHS. And it was timed to coincide with the release of iPhone 3GS, to minimize any negative impact on Apple.

    I can’t think of any way Steve Jobs and the rest of Apple’s leadership could have done it better. As an investor, I thank them their imminently appropriate and wise handling of a tough situation.

  7. LATE POST

    Wasserstein has died and it has now come out that he likely had very serious heart disease dating back at least a decade. Several extended, and unexplained, absences (up to 8 weeks) may be related to this severe ongoing health issue.

    Perhaps Lazard may have taught Apple to obfuscate.

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