WSJ: Some Apple directors ponder CEO succession; Jobs: ‘I think it’s hogwash’

“Since Steve Jobs went on medical leave this winter, some members of Apple Inc.’s board have discussed CEO succession with executive recruiters and at least one head of a high-profile technology company, according to people familiar with the matter,” Yukari Iwatani Kane, Joann S. Lublin and Nick Wingfield report for The Wall Street Journal.

“The conversations weren’t explicitly aimed at recruiting a new chief executive and were more of an informal exploration of the company’s options, said these people,” Kane, Lublin and Wingfield report. “The directors don’t appear to have been acting on behalf of the full board, some of these people said. Apple has seven directors, including Mr. Jobs. It is also unclear whether Mr. Jobs was aware. In response to questions from The Wall Street Journal about the discussions, Mr. Jobs said Monday in an email, ‘I think it’s hogwash.'”

“For individual members to hold these conversations outside of the official scope of the board is rare at a company where board members have been hand-picked by Mr. Jobs. The board is known to be very private and rarely speaks with outsiders about its affairs,” Kane, Lublin and Wingfield report. “The conversations all took place after Mr. Jobs, 56 years old, went on his second medical leave in two years in January for an undisclosed ailment. He remains chief executive and active during his leave, according to other people familiar with the company. But he has handed off some daily duties and hasn’t set a date for his full-time return.”

A couple of Apple directors have also held talks about the company’s leadership with some search firms after those recruiters informally approached them, said three of these people… Apple’s independent directors take succession planning seriously, said a person familiar with the company. This person said Apple’s independent board members discuss management succession in private sessions without Mr. Jobs held at every board meeting for the past 12 years. ‘It’s best practice,’ this person noted. ‘Everybody in the room is sworn to secrecy as to what it [the succession] plan is.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Interesting time to publish such an article, just before Apple announced their blowout earnings report. Surely it’s just coincidence.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

29 Comments

  1. My question is does MDN have a succession plan to continue this web site when Apple is turned over to Steve’s successor? Given MDN’s belief that no one in the world of technology can do what Steve can do, is it all going to go away when Steve goes away?

    1. We will continue to cover all things Apple. Even in a post-Steve world, Apple will continue to drive innovation in many, many markets. After Mr. Jobs decides to retire or that it’s time to become Chairman and appoint a new CEO (hopefully many years from now in either case), Apple won’t “go away” and neither will we.

      But, thank you for your concern.

      1. @MDN

        I’m delighted to see that you have such a finely honed sense of irony, as always. Your take was perfect as was your rebuttal to the above.

        To those that don’t get it, Steve is the spark, Apple is the flame and that flame has turned into a raging inferno. Once started, it’s going to be nigh-on impossible to extinguish. This is history, folks!

        Oh and iPads are flying off the shelves at the rate of more than one a second. DCW are probably spitting blood right about now.

        =:~)

    2. MDN can speak for themselves better. However, all the years that I’ve been prowling this wonderful site, I haven’t heard them make any such outrageous claims. Just the opposite really, where they have shown informed trust in the Apple team and personnel whenever Mr. Jobs had to take health absences.

      Many of us do believe, and perhaps rightfully so, Steve Jobs is an unique individual (as opposed to one in a million or in a millennium etc.) as such it’s as impossible to find a replacement for him, as those iconoclasts featured in Apple’s Think Different campaign (with the exception being Jerry Seinfeld, IMO).

      Finally, I’ll take this opportunity to express my appreciation for you MDN. It has been a wonderful site and getting better over the years. Yours was the only site I have found, whenever that I did accidentally 6-7 years ago, that was not just up-apologetically pro-Apple, but aggressively so. While most other Apple related sites took a more ‘neutral’ and neutered view (and still do), you never seemed to flinch to call a spade a spade. It’s easier now, but those are the traits we sorely missed in the dark 90s, and enjoyed in the 00s. Exactly when is your birthday, MDN?

      1. A very, very important point that is routinely missed in these discussions by analysts, journalists, etc. is that Jobs has infused Apple with his vision of what Apple should be doing. Apple is completely focused on providing the best solutions to its customers, and that nothing else comes before that.

        This was not Apple’s focus when Jobs was ousted before. Apple was another computer company trying to stake out its place in the world then, granted with more of a user friendly focus than other companies we know, and it got caught up in what it “should” be rather than what it was.

        When Jobs came back, he was able to use Apple’s strengths to morph the company into the juggernaut it is today – the premier consumer electronics company in the world.

        All the leadership at Apple hold this same philosophy – build great, easy-to-use yet powerful and amazing products, and people will buy them and love them. The rest (shareholder profits, money in the bank, world domination, etc.) follows.

  2. Best of all worlds is to hire from the supremely tutored and up-to-speed executive staff you already have. If a company like Apple is doing the right job, it trains successors for every high-level position it has.

    Otherwise you get some Pepsi-like executive who has took credit for a successful retail ad campaign that his staff executed. Barf.

    Apple is interesting. It is taking arguably incompetent products that someone else has made that consumers don’t like for various reasons and then re-designs them to perfection.

    That sort of work is exactly what the internal executives at Apple are trained to do.

  3. The answer is simple..

    Apple will perfect the Human/computer bridge and simply download Steve’s brain into the mainframe – this is the true purpose for the newly completed data centre!

    Either that or they’ll give Bill a call and ask him to take over… LOL!

  4. bingo. They feared blowout and bneeded to mitigate. For once I am happy Jobs responded. Apple has been so timid in their response to the payola crew. Shysterism taught at the ivy leagues teaches them there isnolimit to shamelessness. On show everyday on the business channels.

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