Steve Jobs stunned the tech world with the late day announcement Wednesday that he was stepping down as CEO of Apple immediately, and just a few weeks before the much anticipated iPhone 5 is scheduled to debut.
Tim Cook, 50, previously Apple’s COO, will become the new CEO. Jobs was named Chairman of the Board and Cook will join the board.
“Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” said Art Levinson, Chairman of Genentech, on behalf of Apple’s Board. “Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team. In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.”
You can expect Apple’s lofty stock position, which had moved it to the No. 1 tech company in the world, will take a hit, but Levinson professed the kind of confidence you’d expect from a man in his position, especially in a company press release.
“The Board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” Levinson said. “Tim’s 13 years of service to Apple have been marked by outstanding performance, and he has demonstrated remarkable talent and sound judgment in everything he does.”
This announcement will be sure to raise questions about Jobs’ health. He was diagnosed with a rare pancreatic cancer in 2004 and had a liver transplant in 2009. Jobs took a leave of absence from Apple to focus on his health in January, but made an appearance to launch the iPad 2 in March and later at Apple’s developer conference in June. At each appearance, he appeared thin, thinner than in recent times.
Several national media outlets have quoted sources saying Jobs would remain as active at Apple as possible. He co-founded the company and brought it back from near insolvency when he came back to the company 14 years ago. Under his leadership, Apple has released several iconic products which have catapulted it to the top of the tech world, including iPod, iPad and iPhone.
Jobs wrote an open letter to the Apple board:
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.