Global CIO: Cut Steve Jobs Some Slack - InformationWeek
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1/26/2009
08:21 PM
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Global CIO: Cut Steve Jobs Some Slack

If Apple's guiding force wants to take a leave of absence or keep details of his health private, we must realize that some are given special status.

The brainless Wall Street pundits (triple redundancy) are screaming that it's Steve Jobs' "fiduciary responsibility" to either reveal all about his health or resign. They can go pound sand.

We are going to cut Jobs a little slack. We do that for gods.

How do you achieve immortality? Easy -- you live forever. The computer industry is rife with one-generation wonders -- companies that were born, thrived, and then died when the founder left or was kicked upstairs. Digital Equipment, Data General, Wang, Amdahl, Novell, 3Com, Lotus, and about every software company not named Microsoft, Oracle, or SAP. Apple is the only way that Jobs will achieve immortality. It is his child -- and, in some ways, it's also ours.

What happens when the charismatic founder is replaced by "professional management?" It's truly the kiss of death. Exceptions? A few: IBM, Hewlett-Packard. But only a few. It's like sperm swimming upstream. For all but one of them, it's going to be a very bad day.

Apple already has had one near-death experience. John Scully pushed Jobs out to wander in the desert for 40 years (1985-1997), and the place was run by the Boy Idiots until Jobs returned. So Apple got a reprieve, and Jobs' uncompromising sense of design took the company to $32 billion as he revolutionized four industries: computers, consumer electronics, music, and telephony (and also the entertainment industry with Pixar, his hobby company).

You knew -- hell, everyone knew -- that the "hormonal imbalance" was BS. Hormonal imbalance is a symptom, not a disease. Most pancreatic cancer victims don't live out the season, much less four years. Think of Apple as a living, breathing organism. Apple keeps Jobs alive because Jobs keeps Apple alive. He is the Ogre in Charge. It is his unwillingness to accept compromise and his unerring sense of product design and style that save Apple from committee-itis. He sweats the details. Apple will tell you that it has a great backup team: Steve Forstall, Ron Johnson, Jonathon Ives, and Tim Cook. I am telling you that they are the chorus and only the chorus. It was Michael Jordan and the Jordanaires and it's Steve Jobs and the Jobettes.

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