PRESS RELEASE: Letter from Steve Jobs
August 24, 2011–To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:
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.
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.
It has become increasingly obvious, over the last few years, that Jobs's illness has taken an increasing toll on his health—and one does not have to read between the lines to understand that Jobs's failing health is the major driver for this resignation.
Pancreatic cancer has a very bad prognosis—it killed the 32-year old Bill Hicks in very short order (as well as many, many others)—and the Whipple Procedure (which Jobs originally took a leave of absence to undergo a few years ago) is, in itself, pretty radical. I last saw Jobs when he introduced the WWDC keynote back in early June: although he was enthusiastic, he looked pretty frail.
Jobs has taken Apple from being, as he put it, "90 days from bankruptcy" in the mid-90s—when I bought my very first Mac—to, at one point this month, the biggest company in the world (by market capitalisation). Indeed, at the end of July, it was reported that Apple had more cash in the bank than the US Federal Government—which is pretty good going.
To those of us who follow Apple with a near-fanatical zeal, it has been obvious for some time that the company was putting in place a transition plan. Over the last few years, each successive keynote has seen more presentations from the likes of Scott Forstall, Jonathan Ive, Phil Schiller and Tim Cook—even when Jobs has, theoretically, been back at full fitness. For watchers of the company, this moment has been long anticipated and, whilst not welcome news, we can at least be confident that Apple has—as Jobs puts it in his letter—a "succession plan". And, indeed, Tim Cook has been named CEO.
Whilst former COO Cook may not have Jobs's imagination, he is an immensely competent administrator and has been handling much of the day-to-day running of Apple since he joined the company in 1998. Indeed, it was Cook who took over as temporary CEO when Steve Jobs took a leave of absence, for surgery, in 2004.
Jobs has not entirely left the company: he takes over as Chairman of Apple and it is to be hoped that Jobs's vision will continue to drive the company for as long as he is able. Personally I fear that it may not be for too much longer, but I hope that I am wrong. Because Steve Jobs is a genius.
As I have been saying for sometime—paraphrasing the great Bill Hicks—the fact that we live in a world where Steve Jobs is dying of cancer, but Bill Gates coooooontinues to enjoy his ill-deserved wealth shows that there really is no god*.
In the meantime, I expect Apple to go from strength to strength, and to continue to produce great machines that I can use to actually get my work done—rather than having to fuck about with bollocks like Create A New Network Place.
I salute you, Steve Jobs, and wish you many more years of creating beautiful things.
*UPDATE: just to clarify, for those with a nastier frame of mind than myself, I am not wishing death on Bill Gates. I am simply pointing out that the fact that Gates is not ill and, if there were any justice in the world, Jobs would also not be dying of cancer. 'Kay? 'Kay. Good.
UPDATE 2: John Gruber at Daring Fireball comes to pretty much the same conclusion, but makes the interesting point that Jobs's creation is not really any one product.
Apple’s products are replete with Apple-like features and details, embedded in Apple-like apps, running on Apple-like devices, which come packaged in Apple-like boxes, are promoted in Apple-like ads, and sold in Apple-like stores. The company is a fractal design. Simplicity, elegance, beauty, cleverness, humility. Directness. Truth. Zoom out enough and you can see that the same things that define Apple’s products apply to Apple as a whole. The company itself is Apple-like. The same thought, care, and painstaking attention to detail that Steve Jobs brought to questions like “How should a computer work?”, “How should a phone work?”, “How should we buy music and apps in the digital age?” he also brought to the most important question: “How should a company that creates such things function?”
Jobs’s greatest creation isn’t any Apple product. It is Apple itself.