Despite Apple’s successful third quarter report this past week, questions still persist about the health of its CEO Steve Jobs.
Jobs has been very private about his health issues over the years. "Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, and everyone else at Apple," he wrote in an e-mail to his employees at one point.
Since Jobs went on medical leave in January, The Wall Street Journal reported that some members of the Apple board have discussed CEO succession with recruiters, according to people familiar with the matter.
The sources said the conversations were more of an informal exploration of the company’s options, and the directors don’t seem to have been acting on behalf of the full board. Apple has seven directors, all hand-picked by Jobs, along with Jobs himself. Jobs’ response to the rumored discussions was simple: “I think it’s hogwash.”
In 2005, Jobs said he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the year before, had surgery, and was in remission. According to AOL News, an extreme weight loss in 2008 raised fears that Jobs’ cancer had returned. But Jobs said he had a "nutritional problem" and had already begun to feel better. But days later Jobs announced his first medical leave of absence.
Arik Hesseldahl of Business Week says rules of the Securities & Exchange Commission are vague about how much a company has to disclose to investors about the health of a C-level official.
It was confirmed that Jobs received a liver transplant at Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in Memphis back in June 2009, through a statement from the hospital.
An earlier report had said Jobs got the transplant in April that year, while another said he was considering it. Apple director Arthur Levinson has said that Apple is in compliance with the law about Jobs’ health disclosures.
According to the Atlantic Wire, former GE general counsel Ben Heineman Jr, argues that details about Jobs's illness are "material information" as defined by securities law because they "would influence an investor's decision to buy or sell securities." Ryan Tate of Gawker says even partial disclosure would stop some of the disinformation and panic.
But Dan Lyons of The Daily Beast, who used to run a blog impersonating Jobs, says owning shares of stock doesn’t give people the right to interfere in Jobs’ private life.
Many company investors are still afraid that Apple's future is tied together with Jobs'. Right or wrong, the company's shares did fall more than 6 percent in 2009 when Jobs announced his initial medical leave.