In 2009, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs stepped down unexpectedly – for the first time.
Now, Tim Cook, Apple's new chief executive, is in the same place as he was before, being asked to lead a company that's associated, in many minds, with Jobs himself.
In 2009, I asked Marshall Goldsmith, the author of What Got You Here Won't Get You There, and 23 other books, and a columnist for the Harvard Business Publishing Web site what he thought Cook should do. Below are excerpts from that conversation.
Let's talk about Tim Cook. What sort of problems does he face, taking over for an iconic CEO like Jobs?
Big problems. Its not any fault of his. His problems are not that something's wrong with him. His problems are that he's replacing an icon. I was at UCLA when John Wooden was the basketball coach. The next coach was Gene Bartow, who got fired for winning 90 percent plus of his games. He wasn't John Wooden. It's incredibly difficult to replace someone who has seen as an icon.
The only thing I don't think people don't understand about good leaders is that they're both good and lucky. A lot of it is timing. If Jack Welch was still the CEO of General Electric, he wouldn't nearly be the icon he is today. The timing was good. General Electric's stock would have tanked whether he left or if he had stayed. But he happened to leave at the right time and so he came off as an iconic, do no wrong figure. But he was lucky. I'm sure he was a great CEO, but the thing is you can be a great CEO and the corporate results can tank.
Steve Jobs is no longer CEO of Apple. We all knew we'd hear those words someday, but today they've become startlingly, suddenly real. Jobs abruptly resigned from his post at around 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time, taking the tech world—check that, the world—by surprise. Among the host of initial questions is, Why now?
I don't mean the reasoning behind the exact time, which is obvious. By making the announcement in the early evening after the markets had closed, Jobs was careful not to hit a jittery Wall Street with his bombshell. And I don't mean the end of August—though for the record all signs are pointing to the next Apple event happening in mid September at the earliest, so the announcement neatly avoids overshadowing other Apple business.
There's certainly the medical reason, which no doubt factors highly. Jobs was on medical leave, after all, most likely due to complications from the pancreatic cancer he beat a few years ago. But tellingly, Jobs isn't resigning to play golf or spend all his time with his family. He's been appointed chairman of Apple's board, and continue to be involved. His condition is certainly at the heart his decision, but given that he's clearly not on his deathbed, he could have probably waited months to make this move, if not until 2012.
Steve Jobs' first and only authorized biography, "Steve Jobs: A Biography," will be updated with news of the Apple CEO's sudden resignation on Wednesday night and remains on track to hit bookstores in November.
Publisher Simon & Schuster said the highly anticipated tell-all biography, written by acclaimed biographer Walter Isaacson, will include Wednesday night's announcement from Jobs' point of view.
Simon & Schuster spokeswoman Tracey Guest told us that Isaacson "speaks to Jobs regularly and is still working on the final chapter of the book."
You can pre-order the biography on Amazon for $20.40, or wait for it to hit bookstores on November 21 for the retail price of $32.50.
Steve Jobs has resigned from his role as CEO of Apple. In a major bombshell, Jobs drafted a letter to the Board of Directors (which we have posted after the break) explaining that the time has come where he is no longer able to meet his duties and expectations as Apple CEO. It's truly the end of an era, as many see Apple and Steve Jobs as an inseparable pair. However, recent health problems have led to Jobs taking a few leaves of absence, most recently this past January. Many speculated that he wouldn't return from this latest leave, and now it has come true.
Steve Jobs has recommended that Tim Cook, who has been acting as CEO in his absence, be named as his permanent successor. Steve would like to act as Chairman of the Board, director, and Apple employee.