Monday, April 22, 2013
Wall Street is dumping Apple and demanding action from the company. It is not that Apple is doing poorly or cash-constrained. The company has $150 billion in the bank, and it continues to generate profit. The real problem at Apple is that its CEO, Tim Cook, is not Steve Jobs. Succession was always going to be a problem in a business run in an eccentric but brilliant fashion. From a PR perspective, Cook can't win. Yes, Jobs designated him as the next CEO but Jobs was dying when he did it. The board should have been involved deeply in determining what the company would become once Jobs was gone. It doesn't appear to have had much input. If Apple muddles, it will be the latest example of a founder-driven company that could not hold together once the founder leaves. Jobs to many was one of the best CEOs of the last 100 years. In retrospect, the shine on his image is tarnished. The measure of a great CEO is not only what he does when he is in office but how he passes on power to ensure the longevity and success of the business. Twenty years from now, we will know whether Apple was a brilliant flash, a falling meteorite, or a company with a core of technology and design that sets it apart from rivals.