Recently deceased Apple board member Jerome York was “disgusted” at the way Apple CEO Steve Jobs concealed the seriousness of the health problems he had in late 2008 and early 2009. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal he gave late in 2009, Mr. York told the newspaper that he almost resigned when found out, and that he wished he had done so.
He said that the only reason he didn’t was because he wanted to avoid the inevitable uproar that would have occurred had he done so. “Frankly, I wish I had resigned then,” he told The Journal.
At issue was the way that Apple, its board, and Mr. Jobs himself did not fully disclose his health problems, problems that led to a liver transplant that also went undisclosed until after the fact. At the time, the company said that Mr. Jobs was having a hormone imbalance that prevented him from properly digesting and absorbing nutrients, but after a six month medical leave of absence, it was revealed that he had had a liver transplant.
Though asked by the media and some Apple investors to offer more information about Mr. Jobs’s health, company spokespersons and the board publicly insisted that the company’s CEO was a “private matter.” According to The Journal’s story, Mr. York felt that shareholders had a right to more information than they were given.
It’s not clear why the newspaper withheld any coverage of its interview with Mr. York until now, though it’s likely that the comments were made at the time on the condition that they be held as long as he was alive. Mr. York passed away on March 18th after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.
He was the head of the audit committee on Apple’s board, and was seen as an independent voice, though he seldom voiced his opinion outside of the audit committee’s responsibilities, according to The Journal.
Counting CEO Steve Jobs, Apple’s board of directors currently has six members, which is among the smallest of any Fortune 500 company, according to research firm Corporate Library. The board had eight members in 2009 until Google CEO Eric Schmidt left due to the overlapping areas in which the two companies competed.
That left seven members, and the board determined at that time that it had enough members to handle its various responsibilities and three committees. Mr. York’s passing, however, leaves the board at six and short a third member with a strong background in finance or accounting, as required by Apple’s bylaws for the audit committee.