Silicon Valley had a few big shake-ups this week, with Google's chief Eric Schmidt stepping down for co-founder Larry Page to man the helm and Apple's CEO and visionary Steve Jobs taking an extended medical leave. Add that Hewlett-Packard is bringing on five new board members including former California gubernatorial candidate and eBay chief, Meg Whitman, and it's been a heck of a show.
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While there were some previous grumblings about Schmidt stepping down after several missteps, few predicted Jobs leaving Apple, medical leave or not. To many, Jobs is Apple and as passionate an evangelist as its entire marketing department -- forget it, I'll even say Jobs is more important than its entire marketing department. No single executive in recent memory has been so synonymous with a company and so proactive in creating media frenzies about its products. (And unlike most company executives, I'd say Jobs is probably the only executive that honestly deserves a multimillion- dollar payout.)
But the 55-year-old Jobs, also a founder of the company, has battled pancreatic cancer in 2004 and had a liver transplant in 2009. This will be his third medical leave. Because he always comes back to Apple, I have a feeling that Jobs will continue to be an active participant in Apple until his health problems or family force him to retire.
As for Apple, as I previously wrote, the company will be fine. Their products and research have been mapped out for years and with or without Jobs, they will continue to be innovative and there will be no "company paralysis" because of his absence.