Steve Jobs takes leave of absence

Apple CEO cites health-related issues as cause

Maybe we were right to be worried.

On Wednesday, Apple topper Steve Jobs took a six-month leave of absence from day-to-day operations to deal with health issues.

The leave, which comes nine days after he assured Wall Street that his doctors had gotten to the root of his medical problems, confirms at the very least that his condition is more complex than previously disclosed. The concern on Wall Street is that it is also considerably more serious. In 2004 Jobs was diagnosed with and treated for pancreatic cancer.

Apple’s stock has been hammered the past few months due to concerns about the CEO, who has appeared increasingly gaunt in recent months. Sure enough, news of Jobs’ absence after the market closed sent shares tumbling; after-hours trading was halted for a while. Shares, which closed at $85.33, were down 6% a few hours after the news broke.

Jobs, 53, a tech visionary who also co-founded Pixar, is considered one of Apple’s biggest assets, making his health more of a concern than a chief exec’s otherwise might be. Although the company survived without Jobs before, he has presided over a series of successful product launches since his 1997 return, including those of the iPod and iPhone.

It’s not clear how big an impact the scaling back of his presence will make. Chief operating officer Tim Cook will take over day-to-day ops until Jobs returns, as he did when Jobs was originally treated for cancer, and Jobs said he plans to remain involved in major strategic decisions during his leave. There are no immediate product launches in the offing.

Jobs, who has come under fire for not disclosing enough medical info, on Wednesday bemoaned the attention his health continues to draw.

“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,” he wrote in a Wednesday email to staffers. However, he also admitted that his “health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.”

Jobs last publicly addressed his health on the eve of the annual Macworld confab, attempting to quell speculation that arose over his decision to skip the gathering of the Apple faithful this year. At that time, he attributed his weight loss to a hormone imbalance and said that the remedy was “relatively simple and straightforward.”

Jobs had a tumor removed from his pancreas in 2004. Ever since then, his health has been closely watched. Analysts immediately criticized Jobs, and Apple, for not going far enough in the latest statement, given his role as the head of a publicly traded company.

Jobs’ health could also have an impact on the Mouse House. The exec is Disney’s largest shareholder and has worked closely with topper Bob Iger on digital strategy and animation.

For now, Jobs is taking a relatively upbeat tack. Noting that Apple’s board fully supports his plan, he concluded his missive on this jaunty note: “I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.”

More Scene

  • Angler Los Angeles

    Angler Is L.A.'s Major New Seafood Destination

    San Francisco transplant Angler is set to make a major splash in Los Angeles, as Joshua Skenes’ innovative seafood-focused restaurant opens in the somewhat unlikely location of the Beverly Center. Angler is the latest and the most ambitious restaurant to join a fresh crop of spots, including Cal Mare and Yardbird, on the recently refurbished [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler Set for Special Performance at New York Pride (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler is set to appear at New York’s Pride Main Event this Saturday (June 29) at the Javits Center. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, she’ll perform a song accompanied by composer Marc Shaiman, of “Hairspray” and “Mary Poppins Returns” fame. Her stage time is set for 11 p.m. Also scheduled to [...]

  • Magic Johnson, Larry Bird

    Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Robin Roberts Honored at 2019 NBA Awards

    The NBA went Hollywood on Monday night, mixing basketball legends with a star-studded list of presenters including Samuel L. Jackson, Tiffany Haddish and “This Is Us” star Justin Hartley at the 2019 NBA Awards. Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal hosted the third annual award show, which aired live on TNT, kicking things off with a surprise [...]

  • Naomi Watts and Gretchen Carlson'The Loudest

    ‘The Loudest Voice’ Stars Naomi Watts, Russell Crowe Talk Roger Ailes

    Roger Ailes may have been the force behind the creation of Fox News, but the late newsman’s legacy will forever be his atrocious sexual harassment of several of the network’s female anchors and producers. Showtime premiered its new limited series “The Loudest Voice,” which chronicles Ailes’ rise and fall, on Monday night at the Paris [...]

  • Billy Eichner Power of Pride Variety

    Billy Eichner on Taylor Swift's 'Calm Down' Backlash

    When Taylor Swift released her “You Need to Calm Down” music video, it seemed like every member of the LGBTQ in Hollywood was included — except for Billy Eichner. “I’m still not gay enough for Taylor Swift — or too gay — I don’t know what it is,” Eichner joked at Variety’s Power of Pride [...]

  • Bebe Rexha

    Mumford and Sons, Sting, Ciara, Bebe Rexha Light Up Cannes Lions

    There was no shortage of excellent music at the 2019 edition of Cannes Lion. The international gathering of creatives drew top music brands – among them: Spotify, Live Nation, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM/Pandora, VEVO and Universal Music Group – and a slew of well-known acts to stages across the Croissette, to villas above the city and onto [...]

  • Patrick Wilson

    Patrick Wilson, Mckenna Grace on Scary Stories From 'Annabelle Comes Home' Set

    Tales of spooky occurrences on the sets of horror movies like “The Exorcist” and “Poltergeist” have circulated for years, and it looks like “The Conjuring” franchise is following in their footsteps in that regard. The cast of “Annabelle Comes Home” shared their unnerving stories from set at the film’s premiere on Thursday night at the Regency [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content