Apple CEO Steve Jobs Takes Medical Leave of Absence
Apple CEO Steve Jobs sent out a memo to employees Monday saying that he would be taking a medical leave of absence from Apple, but will still retain his position as CEO.
This has happened before, almost two years ago. In early 2009, Jobs left Apple for six months, but still remained CEO and weighed in on many strategic decisions.
Here's his message to employees:
At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.
I have asked [Apple chief operating officer] Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple's day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.
I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.
While this seems innocuous enough, there's reason to believe there may be more serious need for Jobs to leave . For instance, during Jobs leave of absence in 2009, it was only revealed after he came back that his health was actually in significant danger and he had received a liver transplant.
A similar situation occurred in 2004 when Jobs had surgery to combat pancreatic cancer. Investors were only briefed on how serious the illness had been until after Jobs had made a full recovery.
It's not yet clear if this medical leave has anything to do with the pancreatic cancer or liver transplant, and unlike the 2009 incident, Jobs has not specified a specific deadline for his return. These precedents make many experts and investors worry that Jobs' vague reasons for taking leave may mean he is again facing dangerous health issues. As a result, Apple stock prices fell after the announcement was made public.
Some experts also worry the vague timeline and reference to management "executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011" mean that Jobs won't be back for quite some time, possibly even for the rest of the year. Already, his leave raises the possibility that Jobs won't be able to make his traditional appearance at product launches. The iPad 2 is expected to be announced sometime in February, and the iPhone 5 will likely be announced sometime this summer.
Tim Cook was responsible for day-to-day operations during Jobs' 2009 absence as well, and it's now known that during that time Jobs was still heavily involved in the development of the iPad. So it's possible that Jobs medical leave of absence will not affect Apple development and operations overmuch. Apple is expected to hold a quarterly earnings call Tuesday, at which time more information might be available.