In a stunning move, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced late on Wednesday that he was stepping down as CEO on medical leave until the end of June of this year. Apple COO Tim Cook is set to take over day-to-day operations in the interim. Trading in shares of AAPL were immediately halted.
In a letter to employees, Mr. Jobs said that his health was continuing to be a distraction to both Steve and his family, as well as Apple employees.
"In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health," he told employees, "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."
He also added that he would remain involved in key decisions during his leave of absence.
The full text of that letter:
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.
In the meanwhile, CNBC's Jim Goldman cited anonymous tech executives in Silicon Valley who said that Mr. Jobs was in "a state of denial" about his health, and that he had been so for some time. It should be noted that he offered no specifics on who this person was, or how he would know such information.
Shares ended the day at US$85.33, a loss of $2.38 (-2.71%), on moderately light volume of 29.7 million shares trading hands. After hours trading in the stock was halted immediately on the news of Mr. Jobs' stepping down.
*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a small share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.