Who’s wait­ing in the wings at Ap­ple?

The Washington Post Sunday - - TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION -

Could any­one ever re­place Steve Jobs? That’s the ques­tion on many in­vestors’ minds as Ap­ple wres­tles with yet an­other med­i­cal leave for the com­pany’s chief vi­sion­ary. Jobs an­nounced Mon­day that Ap­ple’s board had granted him a leave for health rea­sons, but did not spec­ify how long he would be gone.

In his place, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Tim Cook will again step in to run Ap­ple’s op­er­a­tions on a “day-to-day” ba­sis. Jobs will re­tain the ti­tle of CEO and con­tinue to “ be in­volved in ma­jor strate­gic de­ci­sions for the com­pany.”

Still, the un­cer­tainty of both the ten­ure and cause for Jobs’s leave will surely have many tak­ing a closer look at Ap­ple’s other ex­ec­u­tives. While the com­pany is known to have a well-re­garded lead­er­ship bench, no one is thought to have Jobs’s mix of ob­ses­sive at­ten­tion to de­tail, ne­go­ti­at­ing power, in­spi­ra­tional prod­uct ideas and le­gendary Sil­i­con Val­ley en­tre­pre­neur sta­tus.

Taken to­gether, the top brass at Ap­ple is likely to keep the place hum­ming in Jobs’s ab­sence, at least in the short term.

Over the long haul, how­ever, Ap­ple ob­servers ques­tion whether any of these lead­ers has the same ca­pac­ity to in­spire the sort of game-chang­ing technology and de­sign feats for which Jobs is so well known. As David Yoffie, a Har­vard Busi­ness School pro­fes­sor who has stud­ied the technology in­dus­try and served on tech com­pany boards, told The New York Times: “The com­pany could not thrive if Steve didn’t have an ex­tremely tal­ented team around him. But you can’t re­place Steve on some lev­els.” A few of the key play­ers: Tim Cook: The IBM and Com­paq vet­eran is con­sid­ered an op­er­a­tional whiz who is as ob­ses­sive about run­ning a smooth op­er­a­tion as Jobs is about per­fect prod­ucts. Cook, an Alabama na­tive, ran the com­pany dur­ing Jobs’s 2004 and 2009 leaves, and is widely re­garded to have done so suc­cess­fully. Jobs hired him in 1998 to sta­bi­lize Ap­ple’s op­er­a­tions woes at one of its dark­est hours. Cook re­spon­si­bil­i­ties broad­ened. He was praised for keep­ing the trains run­ning dur­ing Jobs’s 2009 leave, with prod­uct de­vel­op­ments and launches kept on sched­ule. Still, some have crit­i­cized him for lack­ing the strate­gic vi­sion Jobs has. Cook makes CEO-level pay: In 2010, Cook’s com­pen­sa­tion was $58 mil­lion, in­clud­ing an $800,000 salary, $5 mil­lion bonus and $52 mil­lion in stock awards.

Jonathan Ive: As se­nior vice pres­i­dent of in­dus­trial de­sign, Ive is re­spon­si­ble— sec­ond to Jobs, of course — for the look and feel of Ap­ple’s prod­ucts. He has been called Ap­ple’s Man Be­hind the Cur­tain for his quiet but in­flu­en­tial role in ex­e­cut­ing Jobs’s in­spi­ra­tion; known as be­ing close to Jobs, Ive, a Briton, has been a crit­i­cal to the com­pany’s de­sign process since Ap­ple launched its brightly hued iMacs in the late 1990s.

Scott Forstall: As se­nior vice pres­i­dent of iPhone soft­ware, Forstall man­ages the guts of what is ar­guably Ap­ple’s most pop­u­lar and rev­o­lu­tion­ary prod­uct. That puts him in a place of in­creas­ing in­flu­ence, as soft­ware be­comes more and more of a distin­guish­ing fac­tor in Ap­ple’s prod­ucts, ac­cord­ing to news re­ports. The com­pany cred­its Forstall, who joined Ap­ple in 1997, with be­ing one of the orig­i­nal ar­chi­tects of the Mac OSX op­er­at­ing sys­tem.

Philip Schiller: Ap­ple may be known for its technology, its de­sign and the ef­fi­ciency of its op­er­a­tions, but the com­pany is also a mas­ter mar­keter. Much of that is due to Jobs, of course, long the com­pany’s key pitch­man, but it’s also due to Schiller, Ap­ple’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of world­wide prod­uct mar­ket­ing. Dur­ing Jobs’s 2009 leave, Schiller took the stage for the Mac World key­note and prod­uct launches such as the iPhone 3GS and Macbook Pro mod­els.

Eddy Cue: Vice pres­i­dent of In­ter­net ser­vices Cue “is re­garded as an all-pur­pose fixer,” ac­cord­ing to the Wall Street Jour­nal, “who has helped Mr. Jobs ne­go­ti­ate tricky re­la­tion­ships with mu­sic com­pa­nies, movie stu­dios and pub­lish­ers.” Cue, whom Fast Com­pany called the sec­ond-most cre­ative per­son in busi­ness, was a low-level IT staffer be­fore Jobs re­turned in the mid-1990s.

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