In a simple, 142-word letter of resignation
, Steve Jobs stepped down as chief executive of Apple on Wednesday, effective immediately. The announcement lit up Twitter
and reshuffled the priorities of every tech desk in the media world.
And what did Jobs, a man whose every move was parsed in the media, think of the reporters covering his business? In his own words, he embraced them.
In a blog post published this morning
, strategist Valeria Maltoni unearthed a keynote address that Jobs gave in 1997 in which he revealed his media relations strategy. Prompted by the simple question, “What about the press?” Jobs said:
“The press is going to have a lag time. And the best thing we can do about the press is to embrace them, do the best we can to educate them about the strategy. But we need to keep our eye on the prize.
“And that is turning out some great products, communicating directly with our customers the best we can. Getting the community of people that are going to make this stuff successful like yourselves in the loop, so you know everything and is marching forward, one foot in front of the other.
“The press will take care of itself. It's like the stock price. The press and the stock price will take care of themselves. By the end of this year, it's going to look quite different.”
You can read his full remarks at Maltoni's blog
That focus on the product to which Jobs referred is what fueled Apple to become not only a leading tech company, but also one of the most valuable corporations in the world. After all, with Jobs at the helm, Apple became more than a brand, it became a lifestyle.
Just last night, for instance, I was on a bus and overheard a man in his 30s tell his female companion: “Why would I ever
buy a PC?” He seemed insulted at the mere suggestion that he was anything but an Apple man.
Jobs will take over as chairman of the Apple board, and his successor will be Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, who has held the position of interim CEO since Jobs took a medical leave of absence in January. His health—Jobs has battled pancreatic cancer—is seen as the reason for his departure.
In his resignation letter, Jobs said he believes Apple’s “brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it.” It’s a hopeful notion—one that most CEOs would likely say in their farewell message—but whether it’s true remains to be seen.
And it will be some time before that plays out fully. New York Times
tech columnist David Pogue reminds us this morning
that the tech industry doesn’t move quickly. Future products are in the pipeline, which means his influence will be seen in the highly anticipated iPhone 5
and other future products.
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The most immediate impact of Jobs’ departure will be felt in the stock price: In overnight trading, the company’s shares fell 5 percent after word of his resignation hit the wire. And the International Business Times
predicted the company’s stock price would take an even greater hit.
As Jobs said, the stock price will take care of itself, and by the end of the year, it may look quite different.