Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the heart and soul of the company's marketing, said he is resigning and recommended Tim Cook be named his successor. He said he would like to continue as chairman.
Mr. Jobs in January had announced he was taking a leave of absence to focus on his health, almost exactly two years after he took a previous leave of absence, announced on Jan. 14, 2009, to cope with health issues. Mr. Jobs had a liver transplant in the spring of 2009, several year after he underwent treatment for pancreatic cancer in 2004.
He turned over day-to-day control of the company to Mr. Cook, Apple's chief operating officer. Mr. Cook, who was formerly VP-corporate materials for Compaq, also heads the Macintosh division.
Under Mr. Jobs, Apple became the second-most valuable company in the world, after Exxon Mobil Corp., by introducing devices that revolutionized the computer, mobile phone and digital music industries. His attention to detail and emphasis on sleek, easy-to-use products helped Apple repel competition from rivals as varied as Google and IBM.
Some of the most iconic advertising in recent memory took place under Mr. Jobs' reign. He has long maintained a presence in Apple's image, design and ad presence, overseeing everything from ads for a Cingular phone that used iTunes to approving the use of actor Justin Long to play "Mac" in the now-legendary ad series that had Mr. Long make fun of John Hodgman's stuffy "PC." And then there's the phone that kicked off America's smartphone craze. His departure, in fact, comes just ahead of the iPhone 5 launch, which longtime agency TBWA Media Arts Lab is reportedly working on right now.
"Having negotiated across the table with Steve, he's the smartest human being I have negotiated against and understands marketing and human nature," said Jay Samit, CEO of digital ad firm SocialVibe. Mr. Samit negotiated one of the first iTunes deals with Mr. Jobs as president of digital distribution at EMI. "He had an employee who was trying to get the thing off the ground but couldn't figure out how to get all the labels to agree. Steve personally stepped in and did something I didn't believe could be done."
Here's Mr. Jobs' letter to Apple:
To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:
I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.
I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.
As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
I believe Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.
I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.
By Ad Age Staff, with Bloomberg News