Leave Britney Steve alone!

Techradar again: Steve Jobs is sick. Leave him alone.

Imagine you’d had a close encounter with cancer a few years back. You turn up to work with a bit of a cold, and your boss gives you a worried look. “Is the cancer back?” Er, no. I’ve got a bit of a cold. You go for a coffee. “Oh god, is the cancer back?” asks the bloke from sales. No, you say. I’ve got a cold. Back at your desk, somebody accidentally CCs you on an email. It turns out that everybody in the company has become a doctor, they’ve all diagnosed you with cancer, and they’ve emailed your family to break the news.

…that’s exactly what elements of the press pack and blogging crowd have been doing to Steve Jobs since June.

The inimitable Ian Betteridge argues the exact opposite.

Steve Jobs is also a senior executive of a publicly-traded company, and with that role comes certain responsibilities. Steve has responsibilities to his shareholders – and, importantly, so do Apple’s board of directors.

The illness of a senior executive is a classic area where boards need to be strong, and work for the shareholders. It’s a tough time for everyone, but the role of the board, as I’ll explain, means they have to look at things in a way which is impersonal – and which some might find insensitive.

So who’s right? There’s only one way to find out…

I’ve been looking for an excuse to embed a Harry Hill video for ages.






0 responses to “Leave Britney Steve alone!”

  1. Look on the bright side, if he was in Scotland we would have been told that he had made an overnight decision to “spend more time with his family.”

  2. Ben

    I think my favourite TV burp moment is:


  3. Gary

    Haha, that’s fantastic.

  4. Legally, Ian is right.

  5. Gary

    Yeah, I know. The issue is – was he sick? He is *now*, but this has been going on since he looked a bit peaky at WWDC 2006. So that’s more than two years of ghoulish reporting and sure, it’s right now, in the same way a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    Know what I mean?

    When “I was in a cafe where steve jobs buys yoghurt and the man in the cafe says he has seen steve jobs and he is very well kthxbye” becomes news, something is *seriously* fucked up.

  6. I think you’re just trying to be controversial for a column :) Do you really care about it this much?

    Steve’s health is a legitimate business concern since he’s CEO of a public company, like Ian says.

  7. Gary

    I care a lot about disasters, fire, floods and killer bees… ahem. Sorry, 90s flashback.

    > Steve’s health is a legitimate business concern

    Do you *really* think all of the speculation in the last 2 years has been done as legitimate business reporting? If you do I think we’ll have to disagree on this one :)

    I’m in the Kara Fisher camp:

  8. Well, it’s as legitimate as anything in heat magazine!

    Anyway, I’m with Dan Lyons on this – it’s not healthy just to regurgitate Apple’s official line on everything. Don’t believe the PR machine!


  9. b.t.w. Kara Fisher? Dude, are you serious?!?!?!? :)

  10. Gary

    Heh. You know, it’s possible to agree with Dan and still find rumour-mongering distasteful :)

  11. Squander Two

    > Do you *really* think all of the speculation in the last 2 years has been done as legitimate business reporting?

    The point isn’t that it’s legitimate reporting (whatever that is), but that it’s a legitimate concern. Speculating about Kerry Katona’s health is mere rumour-mongering. Speculating about Jobs’ health isn’t — even if a particular report is written in the rumour-mongering style.

    Besides, Jobs is a grown-up, and I’m sure he came to terms years ago with the various downsides of basing his company entirely on his own personal vision rather than just being the guy in charge of a bunch of committees.

  12. Gary

    Still don’t agree. Before I wrote the column I read a *lot* of speculation from the last six months and from the period just after WWDC, and a lot of it was like this:

    “Some people say he looks sick. Obviously we wouldn’t say that, but some people are saying it. They say his cancer is back, and he’ll be dead in a week. That’s what they’re saying. What do you think? If it was cancer, when exactly would he die and how horrible would it be? We’re only asking because this is important to stockholders.” Cue hundreds of armchair doctors diagnosing Jobs from video stills and text transcripts. I’m reminded of Eddie Izzard’s routine about people learning the way Romans spoke from tapestries.

  13. http://www.alleyinsider.com/2009/1/time-for-apples-board-to-do-the-right-thing-aapl

    Time For Apple’s Board To Finally Do The Right Thing (AAPL)
    Henry Blodget | January 16, 2009 9:08 AM
    Whatever credibility Apple’s board had left evaporated two days ago when Steve Jobs announced that his illness was more complicated than he thought and that he would be taking a six-month leave of absence to focus on it.

    Snip…snip…snip – see like for full text

    Steve Jobs’ health is not a “private matter”–it’s a matter of legitimate and serious concern to everyone who owns or does business with Apple. And these folks deserve to be given enough respect and information that they can make their own decisions about whether Steve really is likely to return in six months–and, if not, what the company’s ongoing management structure will look like.

  14. Gary

    Funny you should mention him. June 2008:



    Three months later, it isn’t cancer! He’s dead of a heart attack!

  15. Gary

    Nice to see that worrying about Apple shareholders doesn’t preclude, er, trashing the share price by posting uncorroborated, single-source rumours ;-)

  16. Blodget is a complete tosser. He doesn’t care about the shareholders or about anything but promoting himself.

  17. Henry Blodget, now there was a flashback! Funnily enough I was just watching Bethany MacLean on Jon Stewart, so this has been an entertaining hour of 2001 flashbacks.

  18. Ok, dear ol’ Henry appears to be a slimeball, but Dan Lyons explains things better here: