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“I'm sure they have a succession plan that is battle-tested," said Matthews, "and while it won't be fun for them to wake up in a world without Steve, they have had the chance, unpleasant as it may be, to be prepared for that day for a much longer time than most companies. So I would expect they won't miss a beat for some time to come.”
Apple itself, in effect, recognizes the "risk" associated with Jobs' health issues in its 10K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. "Much of the Company’s future success depends on the continued availability and service of key personnel, including its CEO, its executive team and highly skilled employees in technical, marketing and staff positions," the company writes under "risk" factors in its 10K filing signed by Jobs on Oct. 17, 2010.
Jobs, for his part, said in a January 17 email to Apple employees: "At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company. I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy."
Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook has taken over day to day operations at Apple in the wake of Jobs' medical leave.
Cook, who has deep channel roots as the former chief operating officer of the Reseller Division at Intelligent Electronics, a one time multi-billion dollar technology product reseller powerhouse, has received high-marks for his leadership of Apple during Jobs' medical leaves.
Martin Wolf, president of Martin Wolf Securities LLC, the San Ramon, Calif.-based merger and acquisition power that has completed over 100 channel transactions, said he believes Cook will be the next Apple CEO. Wolf is familiar with Cook's track record, having served as former executive vice president of Merisel, another channel power during Cook's days at Intelligent Electronics during the mid-1990s.
"If it ain't broke don't fix it," He said. "He'll do a terrific job as CEO."
Cook's biggest challenge, Wolf said, like that of any successor, is of course that he is not Steve Jobs. "Tim is a smart guy who has relationships across the spectrum," said Wolf. "He is the perfect guy to run the company."
Wolf said he views Cook as the interim coach who takes his team to the Super Bowl and wins it all."There is only one place to find that next coach," he says. "It's the guy who took you to the Super Bowl!"
Cook has been particularly adept at teaming with Jobs, said Wolf. "He is very effective working around a rock star CEO," said Wolf. "You have the visionary (Jobs) and the promise keeper (Cook) who makes sure all of Steve's promises and commitments are achieved."
Frank Vitagliano, senior vice president, Americas Partners for Juniper Networks, a Sunnyvale, Calif. networking vendor who worked with Cook at IBM, said Cook's channel roots have provided him with a solid foundation to be a CEO. "At IBM he was responsible for (PC) manufacturing and our go to market strategy, the bulk of which was indirect," he said. "His channel experience helps because he understands the entire process for going to market."
"All vendors have a go to market strategy that includes both direct and indirect access to customers," said Vitagliano. "Tim obviously understands that mix and how it manage it."
By all accounts, Vitagliano said, Cook has done an outstanding job leading Apple during Jobs' medical leaves.