Steve Jobs, the chief executive officer of Apple Inc., is taking a leave of absence from the company he has built from a technology startup into the world's largest technology company by market value.
Jobs is synonymous with Apple and he has had health problems in the past resulting from his battle with pancreatic cancer; Jobs is known for the strict code of silence he enforces at the company regarding all of its upcoming gadget releases and he has treated all of his health battles similarly by revealing little, if anything to the media.
In an email, Jobs wrote: "I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can." He also affirmed that he plans to be "involved in major strategic decisions for the company." This is not the first time that Apple's CEO has taken a medical leave of absence: In very similar fashion, during his treatment for cancer in 2004 and liver transplant in 2009, Jobs emailed company employees and announced he would be taking leaves of absence, but would remain involved in the company's business decisions.
The stock market in the U.S. is closed today in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but stock futures on the Nasdaq-100 Index, which Apple makes up 21 percent of, fell 1.3 percent in electronic trading this morning; in Europe, Apple shares fell by 6.7 percent to 242.50 euros in Frankfurt.
In 2004, Jobs announced that he had a neuroendocrine tumor in his pancreas and though his doctors asserted that the tumor is slow-growing, it is potentially fatal if it spreads to the liver. 5 years later, a surgeon in Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. James Eason, performed a liver transplant on Jobs; according to Bloomberg, Dr. Eason specializes in treating recurrences of the rare cancer Jobs admitted having in 2004, but Jobs never said whether his cancer had spread to his liver, leading to speculation over the reason for the transplant.
Like today, during both his 2004 and 2009 medical leaves, Jobs transferred his duties over to Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer. In his email to employees this week, Jobs said that Cook will "do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011."
The biggest question, however, on the mind of both analysts and Apple shareholders is how the company's stock will fare with its very public chief executive away from his normal duties. After Jobs' treatment in 2004 and through 2008, speculation was rampant over his thin state and health, and during that time the company's stock fluctuated.
Nonetheless, Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos., told Bloomberg that the length of Jobs' departure this time around "is less important than what his involvement in the next phase" of the company's development is. Munster swatted off concern that investors would send the stock lower because of Jobs' medical leave, declaring "investors' number one priority" is for Jobs to remain a fixture in the company's strategic decisions. They could care less [sic] if he's involved in the day to day."