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Posted at 9:53 AM ET, 01/17/2011

Apple's Steve Jobs takes medical leave, remains CEO

By Cecilia Kang
Steve Jobs
Apple CEO Steve Jobs. (Norbert von der Groeben/Reuters)

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said Monday he is taking a medical leave of absence but will continue to serve as chief executive.

In a letter sent to employees Monday, Jobs said the board of directors granted him the leave so "I can focus on my health," but that he would be involved in "major strategic decisions for the company." Jobs is a survivor of pancreatic cancer.

Day-to-day operations would be taken over by Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, who recently represented Apple during its co-launch of the iPhone with Verizon Wireless. Apple is on its way to be the most valued stock in the country, with a market capitalization of $319 billion.

"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 said in the letter to emloyees.

Few business leaders have become as tightly aligned with a company's performance as Steve Jobs has to Apple. The iconic leader rejoined Apple in 1997 after a dozen years away. During his absence, Apple struggled to compete and lacked a clear sense of identity. Since his return, the company has become one of corporate America's greatest comeback stories.

With the great success of its iPod music player, iPhone smartphone, iPad tablet and computers, the company has been lauded for its ability to break into new markets and garner mainstream interest in its products as competitors rush to follow suit. But critics also note the company's tight control of information -- including on Jobs's recurring health problems -- as a potential stumbling block for the firm.

Apple did not specify what Jobs's health issues included, nor did it say when Jobs planned to return. In 2004, Jobs took a leave of absence to treat a rare form of pancreatic cancer. His public appearances were less frequent in following years.

In 2008, speculation about his health grew rife as he appeared at a developers' event dramatically thinner. Apple initially played down the concerns, saying he was suffering from a "common bug," according to reports at the time. That led to criticism over Apple's control over information as a public company, with analysts and shareholders saying Jobs had the obligation to disclose medical issues. Jobs eventually said he was suffering from a hormone imbalance that led to severe weight loss. In 2009, Jobs took a medical leave for a liver transplant.

Here is Jobs's letter to staff Monday:

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 Appleā€™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.

Steve

By Cecilia Kang  | January 17, 2011; 9:53 AM ET
Categories:  Apple  
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Comments

This time if he doesn't tell the full truth about his health prospects I hope the SEC goes after Apple and him. He's as important to Apple as Gates is to Microsoft. Who would invest in Berkshire Hathaway if Warren Buffet handed over day to day operations to someone else? No one.

Posted by: Afraid4USA | January 17, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

what a nasty post.

Posted by: johannesrolf | January 17, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Berkshire Hathaway has a much better chance of surviving the death of its founder than Apple does. The allure of Apple IS the story of Jobs and Wozniak. Steve Jobs IS Apple. If I held Apple stock in any great number, I'd be moving some of it out.

Posted by: MichelleKinPA | January 17, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Apparently companies are not required to disclose health issues of key executives. The last time around both Jobs and Apple publicized misleading information. This time they apparently have decided to say nothing. In the absence of a legal requirement for them to disclose executive health information, that choice is probably acceptable. It does raise a large uncertainty about Apple's future. But investors will have to make their own evaluation of that uncertainty. Most likely, disclosure of information on Jobs health would not change that uncertainty much. But it would focus media attention on every visit Jobs made to his doctor. It is not hard to see why he wants to avoid that kind of circus.

Posted by: dnjake | January 17, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

As someone who has lost family to pancreatic cancer, this is more than likely the endgame. It's good that he will be with his family, the stock will do whatever.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 17, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

An affront to the American way of thinking: that you can 1) buy the solution; 2) work the solution out with science and tech.

Posted by: wherehaveallthejobsgone | January 17, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Jobs is managing pancreatic cancer like Patrick Swayze did for two years before he died. Jobs is losing weight like Swayze did at the end. Unless there is a new treatment for pancreatic cancer that was not available to Patrick Swayze, Jobs is leaving Apple to quietly die. May God be with him and his family and Apple Computer.

Posted by: novaqt1 | January 17, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I wish him well. I don't own any stock, but owned one of the first MacIntosh computers (little boxsy thing). I was sorry to hear about his battle with P. Cancer...horrible disease with a very high mortality rate...., having great health insurance and money can delay the end, but not cure the disease. Cancer is the great equalizer.....and good health a greater commodity......live your life well, which I believe that Job has, but it still a tragic loss if he dies from this disease.

Posted by: Pstacy | January 17, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Apple has truly made a difference and Steve Jobs had a LOT to do with that. From the very earliest Apple II, the Lisa, the 128K Macintosh, then to the Quicktake camera, the Newton, to the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad- all of these products defined the industry. I have much more respect for Steve Jobs than I have for Bill Gates, Michael Dell and others whose contribution was more in copying Apple's ideas. I hope and pray for Steve's health and return to Apple. Steve Jobs almost lost the computing wars to Gates/Dell in the 1990's- now he can bask in the reality that within 5 years, Microsoft and Dell will be in decline and their futures bleak. Just look what happened to Kodak- it will be the same with Microsoft and Dell. Get well Steve

Posted by: Larry66 | January 17, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I had a lung and liver transplant. Working is tiring to say the least. I can't imagine having cancer on top of it. Take a break. It's not like he needs the money.

Posted by: ElSith | January 17, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear this. Apple is a premier company - though cultish. I purchased a 64k MacIntosh many years ago and still have it boxed away. It was a great machine for its time, though I've long since gravitated to PC's. Wish best of luck to Steve Jobs.

Posted by: shangps | January 17, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

All the best to Steve Jobs and his family. If this is the end he will certainty be missed.

Posted by: TeamLaws | January 17, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Steve Jobs is the vision behind the success of Apple, however, Apple has numerous talented employees that turn his vision into reality.
Certainly hope for he and his family that he can fully recuperate and regain his health. That is the number one issue that they face at this time.
Apple will continue too be a driving force in their chosen field. Mr. Jobs has nurtured the culture of innovation within the organization and that culture will endure.
Will the stock price take a haircut? No doubt, it will but in my opinion, will recover quickly. I doubt the PPS of Apple is even on teh radar screen of the Jobs family.
I wish he and his family teh very best during a very difficult period.

Posted by: NobleDog | January 17, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Last time he just said he was taking a little time off and gave no details. Then it came out he had pancreatic cancer. So this time if he taking 'medical leave" ... Should we expect him to be dead ina week or two?

Posted by: gce1356 | January 17, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Some of the posts are very insensitive to his condition. He has every right to attend to his health and be with his family. Best wishes Mr Jobs.

Posted by: vpucsekberman | January 17, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Sad for Apple; they will continue their slow decline.

Jobs needs to fully-disclose his condition to the SEC.

Too bad, Stevie...death doesn't overlook ANYONE!

Posted by: wcmillionairre | January 17, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Steve Jobs won't be coming back from this medical leave. If you look at his skeletal physique in the accompanying photo you know the outcome. His medical condition has always been terminal whether Apple wanted to report it as such or not. If you own Apple stock I would rethink that plan.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | January 17, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

At the time of his liver transplant, my good friend, a cancer surgeon, said Jobs had a year. He said it was a guess, since he hadn't treated Jobs, but the with pancreatic cancer, the liver going is a telling sign. This looks like the end for Apple's visionary leader. I wish him and his family peace.

Posted by: paul6554 | January 17, 2011 1:24 PM | Report abuse

How sad for greedy people to worry about stock prices and profits at such an intimately personal time. Sell your damn stock and put your money somewhere else if you have no faith in the company's plans and operation. Do you suppose Jobs was so careless he didn't put someone with his same abilities in charge. Life, and companies go on. But people MUST be allowed to die without stress and guilt! Some of these comments are so materialistic and inhumane.

Posted by: Maerzie | January 17, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"he didn't put someone with his same abilities in charge'

Agree w/ you 100% regarding the posts worried about the stock prices.

That being said, I doubt that Apple has anyone w/ Jobs same abilities on staff. Not sure there is anyone in the country w/ Jobs same abilities.

Though he is a little quirky, he is one of those rare individuals who defines the company he runs.

Posted by: BEEPEE | January 17, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Why doesn't Steve come out and say what his problem is. AIDS? Hepatitis and a failing liver? There are other people suffering from these diseases and he could help.

Posted by: IamWright | January 17, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

This is a sad day for Apple and its fans. We've all already learned that the company will never be honest with the world on this touchy subject, so it might be prudent to expect the worst. I'm afraid the day isn't far off when the Post will be (lightly re-writing and) publishing the (NYT or WSJ) obituary of this visionary.

Posted by: member8 | January 17, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Too bad, but yes, people with genius ideas don't just come along every day of the week. However, none of his gifts came without lots of stress, and it's a known fact that stress causes illness.

Just like Edison, Sr Isaac Newton,Elias Howe and the other great minds, all good things must come to an end. It looks like that's the recent message. Cancer is a devastating illness, and sadly, comes to the best of us. My own husband died at age 52 from its ravages, and the other day would have been our 50th wedding anniverary if he had lived.

Posted by: Maerzie | January 17, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

OMG! If you didn't know better, you'd think Jobs is the Pope. If it wasn't for the media sites hyping Apple, there wouldn't be an Apple.

Who cares, he means nothing in the big scheme of things.


Posted by: BubbaDSmith | January 17, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Not sure how many folks know the day to day of liver function and so can't sympathize. Like having a very bad flu everyday. The best you EVER feel is after the morning dry heave ralph. It also makes you cherish real and reading product overviews must become like a form of torture. But he loves it and can't stay gone long. But you need breaks. The march to hand held everything is going to proceed without or with Jobs. he knows that.

Posted by: WmLaney | January 17, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Compare the tone of these comments to those on nytimes.com. This says much about the two papers and their respective readerships. Yes, I know that comments on nytimes.com are moderated. That is my point. Good editing is both an art and a profession.

Posted by: wmadden1 | January 17, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I am thankful, at least to this point, the WAPO does not put some obtuse reporter or editor (who knows more than the rest of us, of course) in charge of the comment section.

Only GOOD editors serve a purpose, and well, there really aren't that many, d0od. Editing entails civic and social responsibility -- what you're advocating is censorship, and that's a whole other ballgame.

You have to take the good with the bad, and it's not really up to someone else to censor what we the puclic should read as long as the bounds of basic civility are not breached.

I wish Jobs and his family the best, and I hope someday cancer will simply be another easily managed disease.

And I am sorry for your pain.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | January 17, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Good health, Mr. Jobs.

Posted by: lacy41 | January 17, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Only history will tell the results of these early decades of personal computing. Google could be as long-lived a corporation as we have ever seen, and Apple too is well-positioned for long-term survival. They already have a great position, with best-of-class computers, music players, smartphones, and tablets. It is quite possible that they can simply work these product lines for a long long time. Jobs will then be seen as someone visionary enough to initiate the leading product lines across the space of form factors and functions. It might take someone better than Jobs for anyone to overtake Apple. Anyone selling their stock now is foolish considering the Verizon deal, and Apple's tremendous potential for sales of existing lines over the next few years. I thought stock was undervalued last year at 250 and it is arguably still a good deal in the 3s because of its huge potential. I know my next computer will be a Mac, like every one I have bought since 1984 . . .

Posted by: scientist1 | January 17, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

"Apple has truly made a difference and Steve Jobs had a LOT to do with that. From the very earliest Apple II, the Lisa, the 128K Macintosh, then to the Quicktake camera, the Newton, to the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad- all of these products defined the industry. I have much more respect for Steve Jobs than I have for Bill Gates, Michael Dell and others whose contribution was more in copying Apple's ideas. I hope and pray for Steve's health and return to Apple. Steve Jobs almost lost the computing wars to Gates/Dell in the 1990's- now he can bask in the reality that within 5 years, Microsoft and Dell will be in decline and their futures bleak. Just look what happened to Kodak- it will be the same with Microsoft and Dell. Get well Steve"

Posted by: Larry66 | January 17, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Excellent post, Larry66. My only regret is that Steve Jobs moved Apple productions to China thus creating a loss of the opportunity of employment for Americans.

Posted by: lacy41 | January 17, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Anybody who implies that nytimes.com has a more sophisticated readership and comments section can bite me.

Posted by: getjiggly2 | January 17, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: wcmillionairre

"Sad for Apple; they will continue their slow decline."

WHAT? This is one of the stupidest comments I have ever read on the interwebs. And that's sayin' something.

Slow decline? Apple's has gone from strength to strength, their sales have continued to go up year after year, they are now the second biggest company in the US, and they are poised for spectacular sales growth. Here is the graph:
http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2007/10/07/dell-vs-apple-10-years-later/

Posted by: scientist1 | January 17, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Thank you to the posters who expressed a sense of humanity for an ill person, and who write against the cretins who focused only on the impact on Apple's profits.

Posted by: Towards_Light | January 17, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

No one will really care if Steve Jobs kicks the bucket.

Posted by: dsrobins | January 17, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

My heart goes out to Mr. Jobs and his family. The sad fact is that almost no one survives pancreatic cancer very long. Living two years after diagnosis is generally the longest; six to nine months is more typical. I wish him the best no matter what the future holds.

Posted by: Chippewa | January 17, 2011 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: dsrobins "No one will really care if Steve Jobs kicks the bucket."--people will care way more than when dsrobins kicks the bucket.

Posted by: BubbaDSmith

". If it wasn't for the media sites hyping Apple, there wouldn't be an Apple."--yeah, Microsoft machines are so much better! especially their tablet, smartphone, and music players--ROTFLMAO.

What's with all the ignorance compounded by hate?

Posted by: scientist1 | January 17, 2011 6:11 PM | Report abuse

He's had a good career and actually did pretty damn well with his cancer. But it appears the end is in sight for this fine and creative man. God be with him!

Posted by: w4vr | January 17, 2011 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Jobs makes major contributions to the Apple organization but if he remains as the CEO and actually contributes still, time will tell. I do hope his health improves.

Posted by: npsilver | January 17, 2011 10:22 PM | Report abuse

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