Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced on Monday that the company’s Board of Directors has granted him a medical leave of absence, though he will continue to hold the role of CEO. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will run day-to-day operation, as he did during Jobs’s last extended absence.
Jobs famously suffered from pancreatic cancer in recent years; in 2009 he took a six month leave of absence as he battled health issues and underwent a liver transplant. At that time, he wrote a public note to Apple employees calling press coverage of his health “a distraction.”
The Apple CEO suffers from a rare but treatable form of islet cell neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer, from which he apparently made a full recovery back in 2004. But a specialist from Liverpool University Professor John Neoptolemos, recently told the Guardian that ‘for most patients in those circumstances a liver transplant is a mistake, because it requires the use of immunosuppressant drugs to prevent tissue rejection – and that can in turn allow the cancer to return in the transplanted liver and other parts of the body.’
The company’s recent success, with the growing ubiquity of the iPhone and iPad, is widely attributed to Jobs himself, who many see as personally turning Apple around after a long period of relative decline in the 90′s. This may explain why Apple decided to make the announcement during a public holiday in the US, which according to the Guardian was a move designed to curtail plummeting stock prices. In after-hours trading in Europe, Apple stocks dropped $US22, or 9 per cent. Job’s leave of absence also comes before the company’s announcement of quarterly results later this week.
The full text of Jobs’s letter to employees is reproduced below:
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.
The New York Times is reporting that over recent weeks, Jobs has been on a ‘down cycle,’ often only attending the Apple offices in Cupertino twice a week, eating in his office rather than at the cafeteria, and becoming ‘increasingly emaciated.’ The paper also pointed out that unlike Jobs’ leave of absence, which was limited to six months, this time the company has not specified when Jobs will return – if ever.