Steve Jobs on Reports of CEO Succession: 'I Think It's Hogwash'
With Steve Jobs currently on his second medical leave, the WSJ posts an interesting, and perhaps curiously timed, article detailing efforts from Apple's board of directors to explore possible successors to Jobs.
Though it's largely believed that Jobs' successor would come from within Apple, the WSJ reports that members of Apple's board have begun discussing CEO succession plans with executive recruiters. While sources told the WSJ that these talks weren't "explicitly aimed" at handpicking a new CEO, the report nonetheless states that these efforts were undertaken to gain a better grasp of the company's option post Jobs.
"The directors don't appear to have been acting on behalf of the full board, some of these people said. Apple has seven directors, including Mr. Jobs. It is also unclear whether Mr. Jobs was aware.
While the WSJ typically is on the ball with respect to Apple rumors, this seems a bit strange. Apple's board was handpicked by Jobs himself, and it seems unusual that some rogue members, so to speak, would start exploring succession options outside the typical corporate framework.
Besides, in the wake of Jobs previously taking a leave of absence from Apple, it was reported that Apple's board of directors do, in fact, already have a succession plan (or at least the framework for one) in place. In other words, what would prompt the board to suddenly start contemplating succession plans when Jobs' medical condition isn't really something new.
The Journal itself admits as much:
This person said Apple's independent board members discuss management succession in private sessions without Mr. Jobs held at every board meeting for the past 12 years. ‘It's best practice,' this person noted. ‘Everybody in the room is sworn to secrecy as to what it [the succession] plan is.'"
Further, the timing of the report is a bit suspicious as it hit the wires a few hours before Apple was poised to deliver its earnings for the quarter gone by. Not to get too conspiratorial, but it's not unheard of for sources with an interest in Apple's stock price to manipulate the share with anonymous tips to media sources. Still, no amount of Apple FUD could have had thwarted Apple's earnings success yesterday as Apple posted record revenue and profits. In after hours trading yesterday Apple shares even reached $400.
Following up on the WSJ report, Jobs was asked for his opinion on the report that Apple's board is exploring a new successor.
In typical Jobsian fashion, he responded tersely, "I think it's hogwash."