On Wednesday, an Apple shareholder meeting was held in Cupertino, Calif.. At that meeting, a proposal set forth by the Central Laborers' Pension Fund calling for a succession plan to be made in writing each year about the plans for CEO should an emergency situation arise was rejected.
CalPERS, a public pension fund, voted in favor of the proposal. Clark McKinley, a spokesman for the group, said, "Apple is a great company that we're pleased to have in our portfolio. But great and smart companies also should have transparent succession plans for their owners."
It seems as though those shareholders who are close to Steve Jobs, the Apple CEO, don't want any contingency plan set in place for their leader. It could be that they know more about Jobs' health and aren't worried, or they don't want fear to set in across the company.
In January, Jobs took a medical leave but didn't disclose what the illness was. It wasn't the first time Jobs has taken leave. In 2004, he was treated for pancreatic cancer and reportedly had a liver transplant in 2009, when he took his first leave. The reports of Jobs' health problems bring up a tough question...
What do customers care about more? The brand or the man behind the brand?It's a tough question to answer. The easy answer is yes and no. I think the younger generation of Apple customers, the teens and college students, care more about the product than the people running the company. From personal experience, I owned at least 6 iPods before I ever heard the name Steve Jobs.
For the older generation of Apple customers, which probably includes some shareholders, the man behind the brand is more important than all else.
"The thinking goes something like this: Apple equals Steve Jobs. Without Jobs, there is no Apple," an article on Read Write Web suggests. I can see the point here. Jobs has been the brainchild of every Apple innovation and has been the face of the company.
With that, who's to say that a company can't carry on its legacy and tradition without their initial public leader? It is something seen in professional sports all the time. Have the New York Yankees gone downhill since the death of George Steinbrenner? They are still one of the most profitable teams in sports. How's Manchester United doing with their new ownership? New faces don't mean the end of a company, but a chance for improvement.
I tend to fall on both sides of this issue. On one side, this proposal was put on the agenda before Jobs went on leave, which makes me think it was more than just a head hunting task. I don't see the problems with having a written succession plan in place in case of an emergency, but I also see why Apple would want to keep that information internal. They may have a succession plan, but if they were to put the successor's name on paper, it could get to their competitors, and that could lead to a bidding war on their own employee.
The best thing right now for Apple is a healthy Jobs. He's the man who took the company from nothing to where it stands today. When the day comes and he isn't the CEO any longer - no matter what the circumstance - shareholders will simply have to hope for the best.
Ramsey, Jason, "Steve Jobs takes medical leave," Top News
"What is Apple without Steve Jobs?" Read Write Web
Shah, Agam, "Apple shareholders reject CEO succession proposal," It World
- Steve Jobs
- liver transplant
- pancreatic cancer
- the New York Yankees
- George Steinbrenner