Feeds

Apple without Jobs: Who's next?

'Frustratingly obtuse' succession plans

Boost IT visibility and business value

Shareholder revolt

One Apple investor, the Central Laborers' Pension Fund of Jacksonville, Illinois, holder of 11,484 Apple shares, isn't waiting for SEC clarification. Apple's proxy statement of January 7 of this year notes that the Fund has placed before Apple's stockholders a proposal to be voted on at next month's investors meeting that would require Apple to detail its succession plan.

That proposal reads, in part, "Resolved: That the shareholders of Apple ... hereby request that the Board of Directors initiate the appropriate process to amend the Company's Corporate Governance Guidelines to adopt and disclose a written and detailed succession planning policy."

As might be expected, Apple's board of directors has recommended that shareholders vote that proposal down: "The Company recognizes that a highly talented and experienced management team, not just the CEO, is critical to Apple's success. Accordingly, the Board already implements many of the proposed actions and maintains a comprehensive succession plan throughout the organization."

Apple's board has a plan. They simply don't want to make it public. "The Company takes succession planning seriously," the proxy statement says, "and the Board has adopted a comprehensive process to ensure continuity and maintain the superior quality of its management team."

Should Jobs not return, his most likely replacement, it appears, would be Cook. During Jobs' 2009 absence, Apple's stock value rose about 70 per cent – a fact that is certainly not lost on either Apple's board or its investors.

Beyond Cook, however, Apple's management team doesn't include another obvious contender. Although Schiller was a more than capable stand-in for Jobs when announcing products and leading the faithful in morale-boosting events, it's unlikely that he has the technical prowess to lead the company in product planning or the operational expertise to manage day-to-day operations.

Famed product designer Jonathan Ive is certainly a visionary when it comes to creating highly marketable and iconic hardware, but his capability as a corporate leader is unknown.

The man behind the meteoric rise of iOS, Scott Forstall, may have the technical chops to inspire Apple's software engineers, and Apple's hardware honcho Bob Mansfield would command respect from the nuts-and-bolts crew, but neither have Cook's day-to-day operational experience and successful track record.

And then there are the ones that got away. Avie Tevanian and Jon Rubinstein, for example, both of whom joined Apple from Jobs' previous company, NeXT, in February 1997, and both of whom left in March 2006.

Tevanian was the brains behind the Mac OS X team. He was elevated to chief technology officer in July 2003, at which point Bertrand Serlet – another ex-NeXT employee – took over as head of software engineering.

Tevanian may not have had the managerial chops to have ever taken over as Apple CEO, but an argument could have been made for Rubinstein – if he had remained at Apple.

Rubinstein was famously the father of the iPod, and he shepherded the development of the company-saving iMac, a process during which he acquired a reputation as an efficient manager.

After leaving Apple, Rubinstein took over at Palm, where he managed the development of that company's ill-fated Pre smartphone and the phone's operating system, webOS.

When Palm was acquired by HP in April 2010, Rubinstein continued to run that division, which is now expected to release a webOS-based tablet – among other products – on February 9.

If Jobs is involved in picking his successor, however, don't expect him to give Rubinstein a call. Last November, when asked if Jobs was miffed when his former hardware headman had joined competitor Palm, Rubinstein answered: "I'm definitely off the Christmas list."

It may be premature to speculate about Jobs' replacement – he may very well again have the opportunity to tell an admiring crowd "I'm vertical, I'm back at Apple" – but it's not at all too early to conclude that with his latest medical leave, Apple will be under pressure to be more open about their succession plan – one that The Wall Street Journal has referred to as "frustratingly obtuse."

The inside track for the position of Apple's next CEO belongs to Tim Cook – that is, unless the board of directors pulls a Larry Ellison and brings in an experienced outsider such as Ellison did with Mark Hurd, late of HP.

eBay's ex, Meg Whitman, for example, is available. After all, she flopped in her most recent job interview. ®

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.