Community reeling from news of Steve Jobs’ “medical leave of absence”

As many of you already know, recently the community has been consumed by fears, doubts, debate and concern over the state of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ health. This culminated in a series of announcements from Jobs, the most recent of which made intense waves on the Mac Web with the news that he will be stepping down from his position until at least June for a “medical leave of absence.”

The following message was sent from Jobs to Apple employees on Wednesday:


I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

Obviously, this will be a period of extraordinary change and upheaval for Apple and everyone at Infinite Loop — though the larger corporate enterprise, particularly its international and Retail Store arms, will continue to sail smoothly along with little difference in the day-to-day work experience, the impact of this turn of events for the teams that actually plan, develop and bring to market the company’s products is a matter of far greater debate and concern.

As we have said in conversations across the Internet and on numerous phone calls with sources who are current & former Apple employees….the role that Steve Jobs plays at the Loop these days is far different from the stereotypical image that most people imagine.

That image is based on the Steve Jobs in the early years of his return to Cupertino, when it still required an iron hand and an almost sociopathic level of (apparent, if not necessarily 100% real) self-confidence to steer the company away from the path Gil Amelio and his predecessors had set for it…..and when many employees, while talented, still needed to be jolted out of complacency to truly Think Different.

Many people still imagine Steve going on random tirades with underlings in the elevator, his hands constantly in every project setting absolute requirements for developmental products such as how big they are, how expensive, and the smallest details of how they work/look….on occasion, viciously tearing apart an employee’s ideas which may have taken months if not years to come up with.

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  • Matt

    I wish Steve all the best and a speedy recovery – and love him or hate him – I respect and admire all that he has done for Apple and the computer industry in general.

    I hope that soon the industry will judge Apple’s products based on the merits of those products and not on how well or poorly one man presents them to a crowd of people.

    Here’s hoping that Apple can continue to lead and innovate with or without Steve at the helm in the future. Though I would like to see him make a full recovery and a glorious comeback – get well Steve.

  • admin

    We couldn’t agree more.

    All of this analysis is certainly one way for sites like ours to get traffic, but frankly, we’ve resisted the temptation to talk about it every day for an “easy article.” Or three, as some sites seem to have elected to go.

    We don’t mean to disrespect or disparage anyone for going that way, certainly not anyone in particular; as many readers know, this site has certainly had its own share of leadership illness dramas. It certainly impacted our work; one can hardly blame Steve Jobs for wanting to focus on that with the hope of returning for the long haul rather than running himself into the ground for good.

    This certainly won’t be the last time we talk about this, but this site was always more about the technology and the potential of the platform — not about the personal dramas of the company.

    Granted, we were the ones who — amidst scoffing and extreme skepticism from all quarters — originally broke the news that Steve was retaking the CEO position in an aggressive move against Gil Amelio with all kinds of historic board-room drama….almost nobody seemed to believe us for the 24 hours between our posting, based on sources we still have to this day, and the announcement of exactly that from Apple itself.

    This was one of the first times something like this happened in such clear-cut, dramatic fashion….and it got a lot of attention, as many readers probably remember. Since then, we’ve had the rare opportunity to have two levels of insight into the role of Jobs at the Loop; one, from people we know in Cupertino.

    The other was the terrifying illnesses that struck our founder and no less than three other key members of the site team between 2000 and 2008. One of those was a member of the infamous “Bothans,” our highest placed sources who on occasion have risked quite a bit to bring us the information that makes this all possible — a former source turned site contributor, known only to the public as ‘Tron.’

    Tron still bears deep scars from his brush with death, something that he also is rather private about. He will most likely be in considerable pain for the rest of his life but has managed to achieve tremendous coping skills without any help from doctors. The other two site team members are no longer working with Xerces Media; one passed away in early 2008 and the other is still fighting for his life in a hospital in Israel as we speak. Ironically enough, Pancreatic cancers and pancreas-related illness have touched the life of that member as well as several others including the mother of our founder who underwent a pancreatic surgery not unlike Steve Jobs’ own.

    Blessedly, Ryan Meader is back at Xerces and continues to be the person who does the bulk of our source-relations work as well as a lot of the editing workload though that is still a task we seek to divide amongst the team rather than make dependent on any one man or woman as it has been in times past.

    We don’t want to delve too far into a site news post here…..we just wanted to point out that we understand Steve’s struggles on far too many levels, wish him well, and have a lot of things planned for the future — just as we know Apple does, too. Remarkable ones, to say the least!