Apple 2.0

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Steve Jobs takes a medical leave; says health problems are "complex"

January 14, 2009: 4:55 PM ET
Steve Jobs in June

Steve Jobs in June

In his second public health update in as many weeks, Apple CEO Steve Jobs acknowledged Wednesday that his health problems are "more complex" than he thought and that he would be stepping down until the end of June to deal with them.

The news came in an e-mail sent to employees -- and released by Apple after the close of trading.

In the interim, chief operating officer Tim Cook will run the company, as he did four years ago when Jobs underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his pancreas.

After-hours trading in Apple (AAPL) shares was halted in advance of the news. The stock closed Wednesday at 85.33, down 2.71% for the day, dropped another 8% when trading resumed at 5 p.m., and then recovered slightly to end the day at just under $80 a share.

Wall Street was still recovering from the surprise announcement -- made three weeks before the big Macworld trade show -- that Jobs would not be giving his traditional keynote address. That announcement revived speculation that his cancer had returned. The day before the keynote, Jobs issued an open e-mail in which he described his condition as an easily treated nutritional deficiency caused by a "hormone imbalance"  -- an explanation that many medical experts found unconvincing. See What's going on with Steve Jobs' hormones?

Wednesday's e-mail, while consistent with the six-month recovery timetable that Jobs offered last week, suggests that his health problems are, indeed, more complex than a nutritional deficiency.

Below: Jobs' latest e-mail.

Team,

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple's day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

Steve

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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