Saturday, January 06, 2007

Is Steve Jobs Untouchable? [BW]

Subscription required for this one, I'm afraid; excerpt below.  The article subtitle: "An internal inquiry gives him a pass in Apple's backdating scandal -- but raises questions about whether he's getting special treatment" 

No big company has more of its success wrapped up in one person. Jobs is a master marketer whose 30 years of experience have sharpened his skill at creating stylish, breakthrough products. He combines not just hardware and software smarts but a sense for how all that technology must fit together with the music, movies, and other content consumers want. Jobs proved that in his stewardship of Pixar Animation Studios Inc. (DIS ) before it was sold to Walt Disney & Co. (DIS ) a year ago, and in forging agreements with music companies and Hollywood studios to create the iTunes marketplace. The reward for shareholders: Apple's stock price has climbed 1,025% since Jan. 1, 2001, just before the iPod era began, to a total market value of $72 billion.

That's why few expect Apple's board to push Jobs out even if the government does move against him. Some suggest that it would hang tough with him even if criminal charges were filed by the Justice Dept., which is a remote possibility for many reasons. So far, the government has found sufficient grounds to indict only five executives on backdating out of all those at the 200-plus companies involved in the scandal. It's not easy to prove that an executive intended to deceive shareholders rather than just engaged in sloppy paperwork, say lawyers. And there would be hell to pay for going after Jobs given the damage that could be done to Apple's investors, customers, and business partners. Says Harvard Business School management professor David B. Yoffie: "Obviously, these are inappropriate activities that anyone should be ashamed of. But it wouldn't be in shareholders' best interests to have Steve Jobs leave for something that happened four years ago that didn't have a material impact on their holdings."

Source: Is Steve Jobs Untouchable?

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