Can Tim Cook Keep Apple Afloat In Steve Jobs’ Absence?

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Stock Timeline During Jobs’ Absences

If we examine what’s happened to Apple’s stock whenever Steve Jobs has taken a leave of absence, a pattern begins to emerge.

In 2004: Cook filled in for Jobs in August and September. On August 6, 2004, Apple’s stock was trading at $14.89 per share—its lowest level in months. By October 8, 2004, the stock was trading at $19.53 per share. By the end of the year, with Jobs back, the stock was at $32.20 per share.

In 2009: Cook filled in for Jobs from mid-January until the end of June. On January 16, 2009, Apple’s stock was again at its lowest level in months: $82.33 per share. By July 2, 2009, the stock was trading at $140.02 per share. Apple finished out the year at $210.73 per share.

So Steve Jobs appears to have a positive affect on Apple stock while he’s in charge (or when he comes back from a leave of absence) and a negative affect on the stock when he initially goes on a leave of absence. (More on 10 Mac Store Apps To Get You Started)

However, both times that Cook has filled in for Jobs, Apple’s stock has gone up. Perhaps not as astronomically as when Jobs is in the driver’s seat, but up nonetheless. It could be argued that if Jobs were to leave Apple altogether, the company may not grow as outrageously as it has in the past. But it’s very unlikely that the company would crash and burn.

Jobs’ Supporting Cast

Though Steve Jobs’ presence at Apple is certainly a nice intangible, his executive team is stocked with talented individuals. COO Tim Cook already runs day to day operations smoothly, Jonathan Ive is the SVP of Industrial Design and is responsible for the look and feel of most of Apple’s products, Ron Johnson runs the wildly successful retail stores, and Phil Schiller is the force behind Apple’s marketing efforts.

Steve Jobs may be the big picture guy, but his executive team very likely shares his vision and is instrumental in Apple’s success over the past decade. Jobs brings a world of intangibles to the table that would otherwise be impossible to replace, but it’s unlikely that Apple’s going to lose its positioning in the near future.

The long term future of Apple is harder to predict, of course, but the company will eventually have to deal with Steve Jobs leaving in one capacity or another. Since his return to Apple in 1996, though, Jobs has built a strong foundation and provided a clear vision for the company. He may be the face of Apple, but his legacy and influence will likely permeate much of what goes on at One Infinite Loop whether he’s there or not.

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