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Apple Grooming Next Gen of Executives 120

Posted by Zonk
from the execs-2.0 dept.
capt turnpike writes "The modern Apple as we know it -- the good one with open-source Darwin, with Unix-based OS X, and so on -- was mainly the creation of NeXT: Steve Jobs, Avie Tevanian and Jon Rubenstein. What's going to happen to Apple once this troika leaves? eWEEK.com looks at the orderly transition out of Jon and Avie and asks whether things could go as smoothly should Jobs need to retire." From the article: "At some companies, such a loss of leadership could leave the company with a power vacuum or a lack of direction. However, Apple seems to be conscious that no single person--except, perhaps, CEO Steve Jobs himself--is irreplaceable, and that new talent can always be groomed for the future."
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Apple Grooming Next Gen of Executives

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  • solution: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:06PM (#15214966)
    cloning and black turtlenecks
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:09PM (#15214988)
    They should just hire someone from something like, oh, say a soda company. Selling computers can't be that different from selling soda...
    • Are you referring to the old joke reguarding the ``OS Beers''?
      • I don't know if you're joking or just not familiar with Apple's history... But the CEO when Jobs was forced out of Apple the first time was a former Pepsi exec. He's kind of credited with the string of "bad luck" Apple had in the 90's until Job's came back to the company after the aquisition of NEXT--at which time he ousted the current CEO and took over within a year (the CEO when Apple rejoined the company was a different CEO who only held the position for about 2 years).
        • by flyingsquid (813711) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:58PM (#15215328)
          I'm sure the parent is well aware of that. Of course, as another poster points out with Jobs "do you want to sell flavored sugar water or do you want to change the world?", quote, it takes a different kind of CEO to run Apple. Apple always has been about marketing revolutionary machines and software, first with the Apple II, bringing computers to the masses, then the with Mac, redefining operating systems, and then with the iPod and iTunes music store, redefining how people listen to and purchase music.

          People will point out that Macintosh wasn't really first with any of these things, and rightly so. Apple's genius has laid not so much in inventing (although it does a fair amount of that, a lot more than Microsoft) but in using a combination of engineering, fashion design and marketing to bring these things mainstream.

          Honestly I don't know that Apple can survive without Jobs, at least not the Apple that has thrived on being at the cutting edge. He was the vision behind it initially, they putted along and then foundered without him, and they've made a huge comeback with him. His combination of vision, drive, cult-like fanatacism, and titanic ego kept it going. Likewise I kind of wonder if Gates handing the reins over on Microsoft was what turned it from unstoppable devourer of worlds into the dumb, lumbering behemoth its been lately. It just seems like the qualities that certain CEOs and businessmen use to keep their companies on the cutting edge are not just difficult to incorporate into a corporate culture, they are almost the polar opposite of being part of a corporate culture- a willingness to break ranks, take risks, and think in a completely different way.

        • John Sculley, the Pepsi executive that Steve Jobs recruited to run Apple, is kind of credited with a string of "bad luck" that saw Apple's revenues fall precipitously from $1 Billion/year to a disappointing $10 Billion/year. After that, things got a bit rocky.

          John Sculley was replaced by "Diesel" Mike Spindler, who oversaw the transition to the PowerPC processor. Spindler was replaced by Gil Amelio. Gil brought Steve Jobs back.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They should just hire someone from something like, oh, say a soda company. Selling computers can't be that different from selling soda...

      Don't be an idiot - they need to bring someone in with serious sales experience, such as the head of European operations.
    • Wasn't one of Steve's lines to (I think it was) Gil Amelio, who at the time worked for Coca Cola "do you want to sell flavored sugar water or do you want to change the world?" Funny how things come full circle like that.
    • They should just hire someone from something like, oh, say a soda company. Selling computers can't be that different from selling soda...

      FTFA:This move created two new components of the company; the existing hardware division, which had been under Rubinstein's eye, split into iPod and Macintosh divisions.

      Apple is a much different company than it was then. Apple is focusing on innovative consumer devices. I can't see Apple focusing entirely on PCs - it's a commodity business that's becoming more difficult

      • by telbij (465356) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @04:00PM (#15215349)
        I'd be interested to see if Apple's margins have actually dropped much recently on their hardware. Yes iPod is more successful, but as far as I know Apple's 'PC' business is still plenty profitable.

        As Apple's marketshare has dwindled everyone translated that into Apple failing... but here's the thing, Apple isn't trying to sell cash registers, or help desk terminals, or word processors, or shipping stations. Those markets have grown explosively over the past 15 years, that's where the majority of PC growth is. The margins are so low Dell and Gateway have to sell 10 machines to equal the profit margin on a single Mac. Meanwhile any of those companies can be blown out of the water by the next bargain basement Chinese manufacturer.

        Back in the OS 9 days, I think your argument would make more sense. OS 9 and Windows were so similar that commoditization was a real possibility. These days though, Macs are an a uniquely strong niche market: Professional Apps + UNIX. The value of OS X and it's developer base is not something that can easily be recreated by any other company. It's a lot more conceivable that Apple loses its appeal to the fickle iPod market where the only barrier to entry is creating a device. No one's been able to do it so far, but with the right marketing and a sense among hipsters that the ipod is 'so 2005' anything could happen.

        I don't see OS X grabbing a lot of marketshare, or Apple's PC business growing fast, but I see them as having the strongest userbase of perhaps any electronics manufacturer. It may not satisfy Wall Street, but it will keep the profits coming in...
    • Who hides under his desk as a form of stress relief.

    • Whatever happened to that Belgian guy that used to run the Newton project? Maybe they should move him back in!
  • Not two weeks ago. How ironic Here it is. Interesting to see what regular folks think about this kind of stuff. http://forums.phoenix.craigslist.org/?ID=41833383 [craigslist.org]
  • by Lije Baley (88936) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:13PM (#15215013)
    What is this, a time warp? These days companies don't "groom" new talent, they buy it. They prefer to buy other companies' overhyped leaders, just like they buy other companies' overhyped projects instead of doing their own R&D.
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:14PM (#15215018)
    They are also getting a full shampoo, claw clipping, complete set of shots and, if needed, spaying/neutering.
  • ..that there are at least 3, and many, many more well qualified and enthusiastic folks on Slashdot who would be able to do these jobs, who will probably read this post. Hey, you guys, submit your resumes! Maybe even post them here!

    BTW, I do not work for Apple. In fact, I hardly use a Mac. That does not mean I don't like them! ;)

    SixD
  • I live all of ten minutes from ol' Stevie, and no one here is worried. Just a bit of hype for the headlines. There are plently of people here who can take over these positions and the company will be just fine, as long as they keep coming out with a new mist-have iPod every month and keep upping prices on certain iTunes downloads. And I'm pretty certain that some of the post-dot-bomb homeless guys will enjoy the grooming and bathing.
  • Does that mean the actually selling of the soul or just the removal of it?
  • ...Loss of leadership could leave the company with a power vacuum...

    The Apple iHoover. Vacuum Different.(TM)

  • Most management I encounter makes me wonder how they got the job in the first place. My current employer boasts the most number of exceptions since my division is relatively new. However, in most organizations, management are the good 'ole boys clubs and these people are not interested in training new managers. Most people with any motivation or interest in management and not part of the club usually get trumped out...yours truly included (a number of times). I am happy to report I have no interest in l
    • by Ubergrendle (531719) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:43PM (#15215230) Journal
      Your argument that "non-IT managers outsource to India, IT managers don't" clearly shows your lack of understanding (and respect) for management as a profession. Management does NOT mean keeping you people happy all the time; its impossible. Good management though does mean being consistent, supportive of your staff and their career growth, providing a positive work environment, and making hard decisions. It is HARDER to manage and individual's performance problem, or to selectively reduce headcount, than it is to give everyone 2 hour lunches and install a pool table in the cafeteria.

      As for outsourcing...if I have a stable operations environment, solid architecture, dependable project management, reliable Q/A, and a clear product lifecycle infront of me, why WOULDN'T I outsource development if the quality was the same, I retain the source code, and I can get it for pennies on the dollar?

      • Do I respect management as a profession? No and nor will I ever. I respect people who competant, perform and bring value to the table. Do I understand management? You damn skippy I do. Too many good and hard working people are routinely shown the door when incompetent people manage to keep their jobs because they are buddy-buddy with the boss. Do not give me some load of shit those are "isolated" cases. We both know that is in fact, the norm. The qualities of a "good" manager you described above, I c
      • I've got a news flash for you:

        "Good management though does mean being consistent, supportive of your staff and their career growth, providing a positive work environment, and making hard decisions." == "keeping you people happy"

        I know I would have very little to be unhappy about if the above were true.
        • Like I said before, the number of managers that have ever kept me happy, I can count on one hand.
        • I'll say, the best manager I ever had was a guy who made sure that he called me out on every mistake I made, and made sure I understood why he wouldn't stand for me to make the same mistake in the future. I never walked away from a tongue-lashing thinking he'd singled me out or was going overboard.

          The same guy also made damn sure he recognized us for a job well done whenever the situation warranted. And went out of his way to protect me and the rest of his crew from overhead interference whenever it reared
      • "As for outsourcing...if I have a stable operations environment, solid architecture, dependable project management, reliable Q/A, and a clear product lifecycle infront of me, why WOULDN'T I outsource development if the quality was the same, I retain the source code, and I can get it for pennies on the dollar? "

        ...because outsourcing may involve building infrastructure in the other country and you may find that the pennies on the dollar figure isn't nearly as lucrative as it originally looked. It could in

      • As for outsourcing...if I have a stable operations environment, solid architecture, dependable project management, reliable Q/A, and a clear product lifecycle infront of me, why WOULDN'T I outsource development if the quality was the same, I retain the source code, and I can get it for pennies on the dollar?

        Because it's destructive to employee moral, and does not contribute to your local society be paying income to local employees. You are piping money out of whatever country you are in, and milking th
  • Thing is... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rez_rat (1618)
    They're grooming them over at Pixar and Walt Disney!
  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:44PM (#15215236)
    However, Apple seems to be conscious that no single person--except, perhaps, CEO Steve Jobs himself--is irreplaceable, and that new talent can always be groomed for the future."

    Hm. So, except for the person who personifies the company in every way, everyone's replaceable. That's a pretty big "except."

  • ...available. She has lots of experience running a high tech company. Well ok, she ran a high tech company into the ground but still.
  • by Chas (5144)
    Pick out the lice.
    Slosh on the hair grease by the gallon.
    Comb all the knots out.
    Staunch all the bleeding.
    Subject them to lethal doses of RDF radiation.
    Slap them into jeans and a turtleneck.
    ?!?!?!?
    Profit?
  • by arcite (661011) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:51PM (#15215282)
    For centuries, two races have evolved hidden deeply within Apple co. The aristocratic, sophisticated Newtonites, and the brutal, feral Hypercardians. To humanity, their existence is no more than a whisper of a myth. But to each other, they are lifelong mortal rivals, sworn to wage a secret war until only one is left standing. In the midst of this ongoing struggle, an ipod warrior, itunes, discovers a Hypercardian plot to kidnap a young pippin off spring. After shadowing Pippin through the city, the Newtonites forms an unprecedented bond with it, and when the Hypercardians make their next move, Newton is there to fend off their vicious assault. As it races to save Pippin and unravel the Hypercard intrigue surrounding Pippin, the Newtonites discovers a secret that has terrifying repercussions for both Departments--a nefarious plan to awaken a new invincible Application of domination that combines the strengths of both devices and the weaknesses of neither, which threatens to tip the balance of power in favor of the Hypercardians, who have been on the losing end of the struggle for decades. There can only be one! Long live the Jobs.
  • "The Good One"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Illbay (700081) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:52PM (#15215294) Journal
    ...the good one with open-source Darwin, with Unix-based OS X, and so on...

    As opposed to "the bad one" with AppleOS, MacOS through 9, Nu-Bus, etc.?

    Wasn't that the same guys? (Or Jobs, anyway).

    What makes the OP think that these guys are such altruists?

    • Wasn't that the same guys? (Or Jobs, anyway).
      Well, no. Not from 1985 when Sculley forced him out until 1997 when Apple brought Jobs back after purchasing NeXT.
    • Re:"The Good One"? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eclectic4 (665330)
      "As opposed to "the bad one" with AppleOS, MacOS through 9, Nu-Bus, etc.? Wasn't that the same guys? (Or Jobs, anyway)."

      No, it wasn't. For 12 years (1985-1997) it was Scully, etc... did you forget Jobs was ousted, only to see the company come perilously close to failing until Jobs came back?
  • transition plans (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drgroove (631550) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @04:05PM (#15215397)
    Corporate transition plans are actually a critical structure to have in place to ensure the vitality and success of an organization in the event that a key executive needs to depart suddenly, retire, or passes away. Maintaining company focus, shareholder value, quality of deliverables (services, products) can be severly impacted when a company does not have a migration strategy in place, and an event occurs where one or more key players leave or are removed.

    The company I work for recently had the COO step down. The exec team had a transition plan in place, though, so day to day operations weren't impacted in the least. The new COO was already familiar w/ operations, the staff, procedures, goals, directions, initiatives of the company, and was able to step in with only a few weeks of transition. Had we not had this plan in place, who knows what the impacts would have been.

    Given Jobs' age (50+), this is the appropriate time to begin thinking about succession. It also gives Apple the opportunity to bring a new face to its customers & shareholders to ascertain what the impact on the company's image is; this is a huge concern to Apple, which is one of the few IT companies whose founder/CEO ranks as a 'superstar'.

    Apple is a bit like Cuba in this manner; should Jobs/Castro bow out suddenly, the resulting chaos would be catastrophic.
  • So they started looking for the best Steve Jobs clone of all the ones they scattered thoughout the world?
  • Yes, you can groom new talent for the future, but I don't think you can exactly replace vision. Vision is a unique perspective of an individual, and comes from that individual's particular lifetime of knowledge, experience, and dreams. In this respect, no two people are are alike, or even similar, and it would be rare to find a pair who are even close.

    Once Steve Jobs is gone, the next CEO of Apple is going to have a different vision. It may be just as good as Steve's, or better, or worse, but odds are

  • Am I the only one who had a picture of a gaggle of PHB running their fingers through each others back hair, picking out nits and cracking the frantically struggling insects between their teeth. Cuz, really, I can't think of much else for which management would have an aptitude.
  • From what I've heard, his personal drive, vision, and perfectionism are one of the keys to Apple's success.... but he doesn't react well to those anyone within the company with a different vision. If they can't be easily persuaded that Jobs Is Right, they are marginalized or chased out. Since visionaries do not tend to all think the same way, this would tend to reduce the internal pool for profound visionaries for selecting a replacement.

    I don't work for Apple, so anyone there should feel free to explain

    • Well, he'd probalby prefer someone whos "visions" match his own. Not necessarily because he likes being told how good his ideas are, but because he's very often been right, and has much success. You're right, it reduces the pool of candidates, but that's a good thing. Finding a person isn't hard, finding the right person is. Anything that can help you trim away people is a good thing.

      I've never met Jobs, so I'm just guessing, but I'd imagine that at times, he's more than willing to entertain other people's
    • If they can't be easily persuaded that Jobs Is Right, they are marginalized or chased out.

      Nope.

      The people who have been most successful working with SJ are those who are quite capable of pushing back. If you're right, and Steve is wrong, you speak up and prove it.

      -jcr
  • Hmm. I wonder where all the smart people are moving ...
  • Scott McNealy is available!
  • The modern Apple as we know it -- the good one

    Good in what sense? Apple is still fairly litigious, they still claim to have invented things they haven't actually invented, and they are still highly proprietary in many areas. They're "good" relative to Microsoft, but I think that's not saying all that much, and there are more than two choices, you know.
  • Even SJ, except maybe with SJ. They are all part of something bigger, possibly better, and no matter what there is someone better coming down the pipe next week, year or decade. I'm sure Apple will figure it out, and find better talent than that in command now.
  • by IDontLinkMondays (923350) on Friday April 28, 2006 @04:01AM (#15219236)
    Steve Jobs is a mountain. What I mean is that there is something special about his whole life story and personality that although financially he can't scratch Bill Gates, Jobs is just more interesting. He's been around, done lots of things and whereever he goes, the press will follow. He has his own technical paparatzi (sp.)

    When Jobs ran Pixar, the press loved Pixar. They could do no wrong.
    When Jobs ran NeXT, making the most overpriced workstation ever, even though noone could afford the machine, the press stayed interested because there had to be something awesome happening there.
    When Jobs ran Apple.... well I think that just looking at the positive press he receives is more than enough, I can't do it justice.

    I don't know if the term is popular outside of NY where I grew up, but we used a term called "Rain Maker" for the type of executive that could walk into a stubbling company such as Xerox and gain attraction throughout the world. Jobs is quite possibly the greatest "Rain Maker" ever in the corporate history of the world. His presence alone gains so much positive press for any company that he steps foot into that the rest of the people there start feeling more confident and doing better jobs.

    I think another factor to point out is that Jobs, although he'll ride a horse until it's dead and then cut the sucker up and serve it for dinner, he has a skill in listening to his subordinates and knowing where to go next. When it comes to managing, along the road I learned a little from one guy and little from another, but the most important thing I ever learned was from Jobs himself. I'll misquote it badly, and I don't remember where I heard it, but here it goes. It was in an interview sometime back when he was starting back at Apple again.
        Interviewer : Steve, your success has been phenominal, but how can you be CEO of Pixar and Apple without spreading yourself too thin.
        Steve Jobs : It's a challenge of course, but I have a team of people at both Apple and Pixar made up of really bright guys that I trust completely. In reality, these teams run most of each company, but I listen to them and manage them and the rest takes care of itself.

    It was something along those lines, but from a business perspective, I've learned a lot from that statement alone. It's really a matter of having a team you trust and being a person that the team trusts as well. You have to all believe that you're there to take care of each other and that everyone is there to take care of you too. If you build a team like that, you'll suceed.

    As for what will happen to Apple when Job's is gone, it's hard to speculate, but I'd say there's a very very good chance that whoever comes next would not be able to attract as much positive attention for Apple as Jobs does. In my experience, Mac is just another computer and in most cases the hardware is excellent but the software is a bit clunky. But Steve Jobs can stand on a stage and pitch a product no matter how silly, for example, a new web cam and it'll make headline news on NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and pretty much every web site people read the next day. For example, if I recall correctly, Slashdot had the iSight as an article within hours of it happening.

    I doubt anyone else could hold the interest in the industry that Jobs does. After all, with the exception of the blue screen presentations by Bill, how many times has he had a web video on the front page of news.com.com.com.com.com

  • Perhaps Michael Murdock would take the job...

    For those who don't recall - he was the ubber-fanboy who offered in a string of emails to take the job as CEO when Steve still had the letter "i" next to it. Later Larry Ellison told him "he could have the job". After a gleeful response from Mike, they sent a follow-up email waving him off and warning him about Apple's campus security.
    • Well...it was funny to read through here and see my name in it. Thanks for the support. What a lot people don't realize is that what I wanted to do was to get Steve back in to lead Apple. That worked. That was a fun time.

      If asked to come to Apple and work with them, I'd be honored. If asked to come and work with Sun, the same goes. Having been at both of those companies and to this day still exchanging emails with the top brass there, it'd be fun to have a hand in moving our industry to something more forwa

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