Fortune’s Peter Elkind dredges up some old news about Apple and Steve Jobs–the backdating scandal, the pancreatic cancer–but adds one new twist to the latter: Jobs and Apple’s board knew about the cancer for 9 months before they disclosed it to Apple’s shareholders.
Elkind uses this story to suggest that Jobs is reckless because he pursued a new age diet treatment instead of immediately rushing to get an operation (which he ended up getting after trying “alternative” treatments for 9 months). The real story, though, is Apple’s board didn’t immediately disclose the cancer to Wall Street.
If you were an Apple shareholder, would you want to know that Steve Jobs had cancer? We sure as hell would. Steve is the company’s biggest asset. Even if his cancer was an “operable” form with a good prognosis (as Steve’s was), we would like to know–especially because Steve initially opted not to operate on it.
Elkind says Apple’s lawyers told the board they didn’t have to disclose the cancer. We’d love to hear the legal reasoning on that one. As one of Elkind’s sources suggests, however, the decision here shouldn’t have been made on a legal technicality.
Your most valuable asset/employee gets a disease that might kill him? You tell your shareholders about it. Period.
Elkind tries to make this a story about “the trouble with Steve Jobs.” It isn’t. It’s understandable why Steve wouldn’t want the cancer disclosed (in part because he was probably certain he would lick it). This is a story about Apple’s board–which, once again, did the wrong thing. Whether that’s because they have bad judgement or, as Elkind suggests, because they’re all just pawns on Steve Jobs’ chessboard is an important question. It’s time we heard from them.
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