Apple And Jobs; The Next Chapter
Let the controversies, speculation and navel-gazing begin anew as it relates to Steve Jobs, Apple, health, disclosure, fiduciary responsibility, who knew what and when and where do we all go from here.
From my perspective, all that matters is that Jobs is reportedly recovering nicely- good for his family and friends, and Jobs will return to Apple as scheduled in the next week or two - good for Apple employees, customers and investors.
End of story? Hardly.
In the coming days and weeks (and hopefully not months), pundits, bloggers, reporters and shareholders will wonder again whether Apple and Jobs did the right thing when it came to disclosing Jobs' health issues. And now we have a fresh issue to examine: did Jobs somehow use his wealth and status to jump ahead of the liver transplant line in order to get his procedure done?
I have written exhaustively that Apple and Jobs appear to have operated well within the legal guidelines of disclosure. Something might have been wrong with Jobs, but as long as he was able to handle all his duties as CEO, there was no reason to disclose anything. Apple and Jobs both said that if that status ever changed, an announcement would be made. Which is precisely what happened in January when Jobs said he'd be taking a 6-month medical leave. "Why" wasn't important. We all might have a prurient, UsWeekly kind of interest in what was ailing Jobs but he wasn't going to play along, instead choosing privacy and personal safeguards despite the deafening, daily media noise that drowned out just about everything else that was happening at Apple.
Some will argue that Jobs should have stepped forward with some reassuring words because of what the speculation was doing to Apple shares. He did so. A couple of times. To no avail. And further, his health status may have been so fluid that saying one thing today would have meant saying something completely different the next. And that could have spiraled into daily, ghoulish health updates that then would have dominated the news cycle anyway.
So he remained quiet. And the blogs and mainstream media filled the silence with stories from sources and experts about what might be happening.
Alas, in the end, Jobs took a leave, got a new liver, or a piece of one, and in the process may have also gotten a new lease of life both in and outside the office.
Jobs stuck to his guns, disclosing what was legally necessary and maintaining his iron grip on personal privacy. I'd argue the Board did what was necessary whether we like it or not. Investors and customers also have a choice, by the way, and if they don't like the way they're treated, they can vote with their portfolios and divest from Apple, or buy a different PC, smart phone or MP3 player.
Finally, a word about the burgeoning controversythat may blossom about Jobs jetting to Memphis to get his liver; that somehow he used *gasp his money to secure a liver, cutting in line to do so. Jobs and his team did their research, according to the Wall Street Journal, finding the state with the shortest organ wait-list, and when opportunity struck, Jobs was in a position to take advantage. He owns his own plane. He flew where he needed to go. He was in survival mode and from the few details available, appears to have operated well within the legal guidelines set forth for organ donation. I defy anyone in similar circumstances with similar means who would not pursue exactly the same course of action. This isn't a rich guy getting a bigger house than you, a better car, a longer vacation, snazzier clothes, finer jewelry. We're talking about his life. A husband, a dad, friend, and a guy at least partly responsible for the tens of thousands of employees. His life isn't worth any more than any of ours. Which is to say it is enormously precious and he seized on what he could in order to survive. And he was smart about it.
Apple detractors will try to make hay out of his middle-of-the-night, secret operation. Others will try to resurrect who know what and when, and whether Apple lied, or hid the truth. Enough. Apple says Jobs is coming back, and soon. Just as the company has been saying since January.
Let those chapters close. A new story is upon us. Finally.
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