Over the past six years or so, I've become increasingly obsessed with Apple Computer (of course, they dropped the "computer" part of their name several years back).
Of it, probably, my greatest obsession has been with one of its cofounders, Steve Jobs.
The man is remarkable. He has a keen sense of taste, a clear vision for the future, he is unapologetic about his decision making, and Apple has been, thus far in history, unable to turn profit and survive without his leadership. He literally took a company on the verge of disaster and bankruptcy and spent ten years growing it into the colossal giant that it is today. He knows how to hire great people who design and build great products that help us with our everyday lives.
Today, Steve stepped down as CEO. He's leaving his highly influential position (some might say, controlling) in the company that he built. In his parents' garage.
To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:
I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.
I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.
As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.
I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.
Short and sweet, to the point, as usual.
I have often referenced Steve's leadership and vision for the company in regards to Walt Disney's influence in the monstrosity that is Disney. I have even mentioned before that I feared the way that Steve might leave Apple, as Walt left Disney. But at this point it is clear that this won't be the way it will go.
While this knowledge might make this a little easier, it doesn't truly make the concept of losing the man who brought all this into being any easier to swallow. Steve will no longer be leading this company. It will be weird, it will be difficult, and it will be uneasy.
Is it a rough day? Yes. Is it a sad day? I don't think so.
I suppose the real question is: where does Apple, as a company, go from here?
Undoubtedly Tim Cook will step in as Apple's CEO, and Steve will continue to have a significant amount of influence in the accountability of Cook and future product decisions. The truth remains though...the boat has a new captain.
Here's where we are fortunate: Cook knows what he is doing. Cook has been managing operations for quite some time now and has brought Apple the sales numbers that we keep hearing about. Cook managed product shortages when people just HAVE to get their hands on them, and he certainly added to the continuing profit gains Apple's been reporting. The good news is that I think Apple is going to be alright.
One of the things that I've done a lot of in the past few years is listen to every extended interview Steve Jobs has given throughout time. There aren't many of them, but Steve has always chosen his words and actions carefully, and that makes these presentations and interviews unbelievably interesting to parse.
Even the biggest anti-Apple pundit you might encounter will admit that Steve has preached, yes...preached, a mindset and attitude to his people: Great products, great products, great products. He has always defended Apple by preaching and evangelizing about the products. He has an eye for beauty, simplicity, and innovation and is unafraid to make difficult decisions. He has always believed that if Apple makes good products, and they tell people about them, people will buy them. If enough people buy them, he gets to come to work tomorrow. This is his understanding of capitalism and a free market. This is his understanding of the world.
And so, the questions remains: will Steve's vision be carried through into the future?
This question, obviously, remains to be answered. Tim Cook is not the stage man that Jobs is. Tim Cook does not have persona that Jobs has. But Tim Cook has proven himself as a businessman. Tim Cook has proven himself as a manager. Tim Cook has proven himself as an unbelievable CEO.
Apple is going to be more than alright. Apple is going to be stellar.
What's my proof? Apple's culture.
Steve has left a message and mission. Steve has left a culture. Steve's words, thoughts, and dreams will forever be captured in his interviews, products, and legacy. If you meet someone at the Apple store, or any employee of Apple, you will know what I am talking about. It becomes more than a selling point. It becomes a life, a system, a love.
Outsiders think we are crazy. We probably are.
"While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
Steve said it best:
I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it.
Friends, I'd like to leave you with my favorite of Steve's videos. This is why I think he "gets it".
To honor Steve, I wrote this entirely on my iPad. The future, friends. The future.