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Steve Jobs Doesn’t Owe You Anything; His Health Should Stay a Private Matter

I am sick of hearing analysts and whiny Wall Street pundits clammoring about how Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ health is not a private matter. The bottom line, in fact: His health is entirely a private matter, and should remain that way.


Steve Jobs

For the sake of a fair disclaimer, let me start off by stating that I am an Apple shareholder (Nasdaq:AAPL). I hold a modest stake in the company and consider my shares as important as anyone elses.

When reports concerning Steve’s health first appeared after Apple’s WWDC (Worldwide Developer Conference) this past June, my curiosity reached a level of palpable insanity. “Does he have a recurrence of pancreatic cancer? Is this really happening? Could it really be the end of Steve as Apple’s CEO?” As I showed this photo of him in a rather unnerving stance on stage looking frail, thin and generally less healthy than he has looked in the past, I asked myself and everyone around me those questions.

While my curiosity grew, I became anxious and slightly bothered. I wanted to know Steve’s current health condition as much as the rest of my fellow shareholders and the industry, if not more. But I knew it was not my place to ask, let alone demand Apple or Steve Jobs issue a statement concerning his health condition. Nobody is holding a gun to my head forcing me to keep my stake in Apple. So why should I force Apple, or Steve himself to reveal extremely sensitive and personal information about himself? Just because Apple is a publicly traded company, doesn’t make the CEO’s health condition a public matter.

Many people have preconceived notions about Apple and Steve Jobs, in which the company couldn’t thrive without Steve at the helm. It’s out of these preconceived notions that the industry (shareholders in particular), seem to fear what would happen to Apple’s stock price if Steve Jobs left the company. Apple is not responsible for your comfort level while owning their stock if you base your comfort level on an employee’s health. Even if that employee is the most important corporate employee in America. In your move to buy or sell Apple Stock, Steve Jobs’ health should not be a key factor while making your decision. The company’s numbers, revenue stream, business models and product lines should weigh into your decision, but Steve Jobs’ health? Not so much.

Recently, Steve has publicly referred to Joe Nocera form the NY Times as a “Slime Bucket” (which truly seems fitting), while informally relaying the message to the industry that his health is fine. Below is Joe Nocera’s rehashing of the phone call. Because Steve demanded the phone call be off-the-record, Joe cannot go into specific details. Yet the call still sheds light on Steve’s condition.

On Thursday afternoon, several hours after I’d gotten my final “Steve’s health is a private matter” — and much to my amazement — Mr. Jobs called me. “This is Steve Jobs,” he began. “You think I’m an arrogant [expletive] who thinks he’s above the law, and I think you’re a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.” After that rather arresting opening, he went on to say that he would give me some details about his recent health problems, but only if I would agree to keep them off the record. I tried to argue him out of it, but he said he wouldn’t talk if I insisted on an on-the-record conversation. So I agreed.

Because the conversation was off the record, I cannot disclose what Mr. Jobs told me. Suffice it to say that I didn’t hear anything that contradicted the reporting that John Markoff and I did this week. While his health problems amounted to a good deal more than “a common bug,” they weren’t life-threatening and he doesn’t have a recurrence of cancer. After he hung up the phone, it occurred to me that I had just been handed, by Mr. Jobs himself, the very information he was refusing to share with the shareholders who have entrusted him with their money.

You would think he’d want them to know before me. But apparently not.

Journalism is one thing, headline shockery is another. Amidst all of the speculation regarding Steve’s health, many online publications and blogs seemed to lose site of their morals and ethics by doing anything to grab your attention. I for one, despise this. Being creative about a particular breaking news story, gadget or device release is one thing. Scrambling for the most controversial headline regarding one of the greatest innovators of our time (and his health) is another.

MacBlogz is truly relieved to here about Steve’s good health condition. He is still young and could potentially have ten more years as Apple’s CEO (at least?). Now maybe some of the other blogs and online “news” publications can get back to re-evaluating their content and start delivering some news that is relevant to our industry.

We wish Steve the best as always.

Comments [1]

One Comment to “Steve Jobs Doesn’t Owe You Anything; His Health Should Stay a Private Matter”

Hiram Walker @ January 16th, 2009 at 11:04 am
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Here! Here!

Nocera continues to prove Jobs evaluation correct!