Tech visionary Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple yesterday after 14 years at the helm of the company he co-founded in his California garage in 1976 then rescued from near-collapse some 20 years later.
"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," Jobs wrote in his resignation letter.
Jobs, 55, has been on medical leave since January, and has battled life-threatening health problems since 2004, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His departure raised immediate concerns about Apple’s future without its founding father, and questions arose about why Jobs chose to step down now.
Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will succeed Jobs as Apple's chief. Jobs said he would stay on as chairman of the board.
It is hard to overstate how transformative a figure Jobs has been. Jobs has masterminded the company's most successful and industry-changing products, including the iMac, iPhone and iPad, and under Jobs' leadership, Apple went from the brink of failure in the years after he was forced out in 1985 to become the most valuable company in the world earlier this month.
Even as the company changed how people consumed music and media, Jobs was dogged with continuous health problems. After beating the cancer, Jobs has long looked gaunt at public appearances, and has taken occasional medical leaves.
In 2009, he underwent a secretive liver transplant, from which he said he fully recovered.
The San Francisco-native remained the face of the company throughout, emerging sometimes for product launches, including this year's iPad 2 and iCloud. The company said he will "continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration."
Analysts were confident that there's no reason to worry about Apple.
"I will say to investors: don't panic and remain calm, it's the right thing to do. Steve will be chairman and Cook is CEO," said BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis.
Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross agreed, saying Cook has that "Apple can still outperform extremely well" under his leadership.
"Investors are very comfortable with Tim Cook even though Jobs has been a driver of innovation and clearly an Apple success," she said. That comfort wasn’t immediately evident, as Apple stock plunged 7 percent in after-hours trading.
"Most likely it was going to happen at some point,” Cross said of the resignation. “Why today versus another day? I don't know."
Jobs didn’t explain yesterday, but did sound an optimistic note.
"I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it.
With Steve Jobs’ resignation, Apple COO Tim Cook will take us as the company's chief.
Here are the a brief bio plus some of Cook’s accomplishments at Apple.
- Age: 50
-Place of Birth: Robertsdale, Alabama
- Education: B.A. in industrial engineering from Auburn University in 1982, M.B.A. from Duke University in 1988
- Joined Apple in 1998, and is largely credited with streamlining the company's then lagging supply chain, further smoothing them out through product launch after product launch
- Promoted to chief operating officer in 2007
- Headed Apple when Jobs took medical leave in 2009; during that time, the company prospered and its stock jumped 60 percent
- Cook's total compensation for 2010 was $59 million, mostly in stock awards
- Gawker has called him the “most powerful gay man in America”
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