Apple CEO Steve Jobs has just announced that he is taking a medical leave of absence according to a release issued by the company today. Here’s the email memo Jobs sent to Apple employees today.
Team,At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.
Jobs, who previously battled pancreatic cancer, has again handed Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook the day-to-day reins at Apple. The news sent Apple shares plunging in Frankfurt. Monday was a holiday in the United States, and the markets were closed there.
Jobs, who co-founded Apple in 1976, said in a memo to staff that he would continue to be Apple’s CEO and would take part in major strategic decisions.
“At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health,” Jobs, 55, wrote. “I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can.”
This is the third time in the last decade that Jobs has reduced his role at Apple because of his health. He also took medical leave in 2004.
Jobs is critical to Apple. He is deeply enmeshed in the company’s business, making key product decisions. The chief executive is inextricably linked to the company, credited with reviving its flagging fortunes in 1996 when he returned after a 12-year hiatus. He oversaw hit products such as the iMac and, more recently, the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
The announcement came as a surprise and was bound to rattle investors who attribute Apple’s soaring success as a consumer-electronics giant to Jobs. His absence will not be a major concern with such strong momentum and product line in the pipeline for the next few years, but if the absence is prolonged, it could deflate the stock. Apple is set to report quarterly earnings on Tuesday.
Investors also have had confidence in the past in the stewardship of Cook, 50, known as the executive who makes Apple’s trains run efficiently and on time. Cook joined Apple in 1998 and stepped in for Jobs during both of his leaves of absence.
Questions about Jobs’ health have peppered the company for years, with some analysts and investors criticizing Apple for not making more information available.
[via Wall Street Journal, LA Times and Business Wire]