Is Steve Jobs dying? I don’t think he is. A survivor of pancreatic cancer is bound to have a host of follow-up problems that aren’t necessarily terminal. Indeed, the fine details of Jobs’ testoserone levels are hardly the issue. The real point is that Apple has most of of its eggs in one fragile basket.
Jobs’ cult of personality is so strong that the leadership vacuum lurking in the shadows when he leaves threatens the very fabric of the company. A powerful figurehead, in any kind of governance, should be counterbalanced by an equally stable organization. I’m no Apple insider, but from what I hear, the presence of Jobs, like that of God, infuses almost every layer of company operations. Remove the Jobs factor, and what do you have? A discernable vacuum.
Investors know this. That’s why Jobs had to explain that it was hormones, honey, not something deadly. And that’s what got me thinking that it’s not Jobs’ health that matters as much as his ability to prune a legitimate set of successors. Buffett and Gates have done it, but what of Apple? The only successor I can think of with the star power similar to Jobs would be board member Al Gore, but one can only imagine what would happen to Apple products under Gore’s leadership (the iCompost comes to mind).
What do you think?