Life After Steve Jobs: Shareholders Left Uncertain

Normally when I write, I have a fair idea on the pros and cons of my viewpoint. But when it comes to the iconic leader Steve Jobs and the future of Apple, my thoughts are still taking shape.

Earlier this week, the tech giant was slapped with some more pressure from the board, which is insisting that shareholders know about the plans behind the eventual succession to Jobs, after he announced his indefinite medical leave. As shareholders are getting restless waiting for a plan, one of the most influential investor advisors, Institutional Shareholder Services, has decided to step up and back a shareholder proposal to force the billion-dollar company to publicly release a succession plan. Apple, meanwhile, has asked its shareholders to vote against the proposal at the annual meeting slated for February 23.

In fact, Apple was never known for its transparency in respect of Jobs and senior management. On the contrary, it has always been decidedly secretive. So I’m not surprised the company has consistently opposed the idea of making its succession plan public. I am sure the company would like to keep all its talks confidential to maintain the upper hand; but this really is not an acceptable option. Investors are entitled to more.

With Jobs now on his third period of medical leave shareholders are uncertain about placing their trust in the Apple board once again. We’ll see how it all unravels in the coming weeks. But, what’s next for Apple? It’s hard to tell; what I am sure about is that the question of Jobs’ successor will remain a hot topic throughout 2011. Who will it be?

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