The news last night that Steve Jobs was resigning as Apple's CEO certainly got a lot of attention in geek circles, and rightfully so. Here's a guy who brought back a company from the brink of destruction, and new markets were literally created under his watch. For fans of the company and its products, it's certainly a scary thing.
I will say that I'm a little bothered by the fact that people are more worried about Apple than they are Jobs. I mean, if you've seen him in his last few appearances, he's clearly not well. He's super thin, and his clothes just hang on him. It's very sad to see one of the most brilliant businessmen of our time be so vulnerable and frail. No matter what the truth is about his leadership style, it's not fun to see another human being in that state.
His leadership style is really the thing that investors, as well as fans, are likely most curious about, because you can't help but wonder if the company is successful because of top-down dictation, or the inspiration of a culture that encourages innovation. If it's the former, potentially negative change comes quickly. If it's the latter, it's possible to maintain that culture. If you believe this quote from a CNN article, it's the latter:
"If you want to hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions, and you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy," Jobs said. "The best ideas have to win, otherwise good people don't stay."
I can tell you right now that if he really runs things that way, they have a solid future ahead of them, and I wouldn't worry much.
What I like most about the Steve Jobs story is that we have an icon in a time where there are so few leadership figures that truly inspire. You just don't see people who get it right that much of the time.
As I said, I just hope the guy is OK. Apple will get along just fine.