Feeds

Apple without Jobs: Who's next?

'Frustratingly obtuse' succession plans

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.