The STEVE JOBS Succession Plan: The 7 [Un] Likeliest Candidates

The STEVE JOBS Succession Plan: The 7 [Un] Likeliest Candidates


The head’s heavy that wears the crown and no head’s probably heavier than Lil’ Stevie Jobs is right now. Starting Apple Computer [now just plain ol’ Apple], along with friend Wozniak, building it up into some sort of modern colossus of miracle engineering (PERSONAL computers? Who’d a thunk it?), being summarily booted from company and then doing the hero’s return to rescue the company from imminent demise it’s been a rocky ride.


And it’s only from the vantage point of a Monday morning’s quarterbacking that all the moves that were subsequently made on his return seem like the right ones: the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and so on. But that’s all, in iTerms, old news. We, along with just about everyone else, armchair prognosticators all, are wondering: what about life POST-Steve?


I mean if you factor in poison mushrooms, frayed toaster wires and California traffic it becomes increasingly clear that Steve’s probably not going to last forever. And since a company’s only as a good as its component parts might we now consider Life After Steve via about 7 sorta kinda well-rumored possible candidates? Yes we might.



PHIL SCHILLER: The Barney Rubble-esque Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing at Apple, last seen scuttling around the stage at Apple presentations here and there, is probably the highest and most public face of Apple outside of Steve. That, however, is like saying that Michael Anthony is probably the highest and most public face of Van Halen outside of….well, outside of everyone else in Van Halen (despite which he’s been booted from the Van Halen reunion tour…oh, woe is us). Schiller’s well placed, but not well enough placed…why not? Probably the vision thing: Saying “yes Steve” a lot does not a job qualification make.



STEVE WOZNIAK: Let’s see: hang around with Kathy Griffin and a wide variety of good time D-listed gals while counting your money OR try to compete with the 800 hundred pound ghost of a recently retired Jobs? Like Michael Jordan coming out of retirement: won’t help, could hurt. And ain’t gonna happen.



TIM COOK: The Chief Operating Officer at Apple. Filled in when Steve retired briefly back in 2004 after having battled back a bout of pancreatic cancer. Cook’s a consummate player and operator’s operator whose influence is more felt than heard about. But the qualities that make him so useful as a behind the scenes player are precisely the same ones that work against him. In other words: after Muhammed Ali, Larry Holmes didn’t stand a chance, and so it goes with Cook. IF he’s even interested, filling Steve’s departed shoes is about much more than keeping the company running smoothly. It’s about a certain kind of magic. It’s about that whole reality distortion stuff. It’s about bringing to bear the same kind of gravitas that, as one former Apple employee once glossed Jobs “the meanest Buddhist I know” does. Can Cook? Nooooo.



LARRY ELLISON: From Oracle? One of Steve’s best friends? We think his Cap’n Ahab-esque hunting of Bill Gates prevents this insane idea of even getting much purchase at all. Besides which his management style, neo-Michael Douglas’ Wall Street-Gordon Gekko thing in place at Apple would be a corporate clash very much akin to having Ted Turner take over. HEYYYYY…frat party-beer bongs-and Glengarry Glen Ross-style office politics?!?!? Yeah. Exactly.




EUGENE ROBINSON: That’s right: me. I used to work there...right after Steve got back, post-Amelio. I am handsome. I like to fire people. And I never stop talking. A dark horse candidacy for sure, but stranger things have happened and I’m pushing for it. Even if I own a five year old PowerBook G4.



CARLY FIORINA: The only choice MORE comical than me is the Valley casualty Fiorina (though do you think it’s common to call a multi-millionaire a casualty?). Her Marie Antoinette-like pronouncements – “Is it a god-given right to be employed?” – and her present desire to launch a political career of some sort says all that needs to be said, we think, about our desire to never have her name mentioned again in our presence. Like, ever.



JONATHAN IVE: Apple’s senior vice president of Industrial Design did the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, the….do we even need to continue? Not only has he got the whole basic black sweater thing down cold, he even ups the ante by choosing to wear a belt while Steve still wears none. Winning design award after design award, if Ive’s had/made any missteps we can’t remember them. He gets it. It gets him. And he’s probably the only person in upper management there that Steve doesn’t throw stuff at. Ive gets our vote.




While ALL of this largely depends on Steve’s ability to REALLY walk away (Andy Grove’s disappearing act from Intel was a model of couth and anti-ego professionalism…he went away and stayed away…even in the face of Craig Barrett’s subsequent ham-handed stewardship of their beloved company) instead of going all Putin on us and just appointing a figurehead, we still think/feel the above names are the only ones in serious contention. (Well, all except for me, it must be sadly admitted.)


So let the prognosticating begin….



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Go Ives!
The leaving of Steve really has me scared.,.... Cant we clone him? I like Ives and I think he will follow with the innovativeness that Apple has become known for... Of course, it would be nice if the Woz would join in, and if Jobs would still be involved..... He is my age, so we should depart at around the same time.... that would be OK with me...



You would be a very different candidate and would really fit in to the classic "Think Different" ideal. The fact that you use a 5 year old Powerbook G4 speaks to your year man cred. You are us and the loyal non bleeding edge Mac users who are more the majority. You would bring a level calming effect and you would listen to us.
Imagine the Superband that would come together for either Macworld or your announcements.
And there's your reluctance toward buying new hardware. (That is like the every man or average mac user after listening to some podcasts, the mac writers sound like they are rolling in mac money.)
You would be the most unlikeliest candidate and if the campaign was powered by the Hitchhikers' improbability Drive you would be a shoe in especially since in one way or another we will have a completely different kind of president next year. Apple can have you as the replacement to Steve.


Tender Is The Mind

YOU make no sense. Holy crap.



I worked for both Steve and Carly; if Apple has her lined up for the next CEO, then I sincerely hope Steve doesn't retire for a long, long time.

On the list you provide, I'd vote for Jonathan Ive, but I'd wager that he's not interested in all the crap that comes with the job.



You forgot Steve Ballmer.
He is doing such a bang up job over at M$haft.
He'd be a great UN likely candidate.

OOOOhhhh its just giving me the willys thinking about it.


Trend Setting Design

Well, I currently have mixed feelings about Al Gore, but you have to admit that he would be great as the CEO of Apple. I think the American public would accept it, and he is certainly wise enough to not use that position to ONLY promote anti-global warming. Additionally, I think more people are becoming convinced that he's helping the earth, which would bode well for Apple.

The biggest problem with these candidates is that they probably wouldn't be energetic/charismatic enough on-stage at Macworld.



Eugene over Gore, and Carly is irrelevant because I don't really know who she is. Eugene knows computers. If Gore ever took over, I would buy a really fast-powerful Mac that dated before he took over and count on it to carry me over until he left. It would be like buying a car in a show-room from a salesman that uses public transportation and really sells carpet, haha.


Christopher Powers

Not only did he produce that wonderful powerpoint movie which was probably done on Keynote and iMovie but he's also on the board of Apple.

He could spearhead the cutting edge philosophy on turning back the tide of global warming but reducing the effects computers on the environment.

After ten years of Gore at the reigns we could have Mac's powered by exercise bicycles, iPods powered by treadmills, all Mac's made out of 89% recycled cans...bringing back color to he computers... Think flowerpower computers but instead of weird jumble of colors & shapes, we see portions of diet coke, Red Bull, and 7-up cans which will make up the case & their new design...

Think of the possibilities...



If Al Gore took over Apple, I would never ever buy one again. For a man to tell us all to lower emissions and then have a house that uses 17x more power than the average person does not deserve to be the head of such a great company. He would ruin it, like he is trying to ruin the world economy.

Him on the bored is the only thing I dislike about Apple.

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