Steve Jobs resigns as CEO of Apple

Ailing Palo Alto resident says he can no longer meet 'duties and expectations' of job

Apple CEO Steve Jobs submitted his resignation to the company's board Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 24), saying he could no longer meet his "duties and expectations" as head of the company.

Jobs, a Palo Alto resident who underwent a liver transplant in 2009, has been on medical leave from Apple since January, saying he wants to focus on his health.

In today's resignation letter, Jobs said he "strongly recommended" that the company "execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple."

Cook has led the company during Jobs' most recent medical leave, as well as during absences for the 2009 liver transplant and treatment for pancreatic cancer in 2004.

Jobs said he would like to continue serving as Apple's board chairman and as an Apple employee.

"I believe Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role," he said in today's letter.

Art Levinson, Chairman of Genentech and a member of Apple's board of directors, commented on Jobs' guidance and leadership in a press release.

"Steve's extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world's most innovative and valuable technology company," Levinson said. "Steve has made countless contributions to Apple's success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple's immensely creative employees and world class executive team. In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration."

The board confirmed Cook's promotion to CEO.

Transcript of Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address:

Steve Jobs

Stanford Commencement Address

June 12, 2005

And last fall, a Business Week reporter asked how he manages for innovation. His answer was deceptively simple. "We hire people who want to make the best things in the world."

Steve Jobs personifies the spirit and creativity that have characterized this university since its founding 114 years ago, and we are pleased to have him here today. Please join me in warmly welcoming this year's commencement speaker, Steve Jobs.


STEVE JOBS: Thank you. I'm honored to be with you today for your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. CHEERS. Truth be told, I never graduated from college and this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. LAUGHTER.

Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories. The first story is about connecting the dots. I dropped out of Reed College after the first six months but then stayed around as a drop-in for another eighteen months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out? It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young unwed graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife, except that when I popped out, they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking, "We've got an unexpected baby boy. Do you want him?" They said, "Of course."

My biological mother found out later that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would go to college. This was the start in my life. And seventeen years later, I did go to college, but I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and no idea of how college was going to help me figure it out, and here I was, spending all the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out okay. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. LAUGHTER. The minute I dropped out, I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me and begin dropping in on the ones that looked far more interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms. I returned Coke bottles for the five-cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hari Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example.

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer was beautifully hand-calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me, and we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts, and since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE AND CHEERS.

If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on that calligraphy class and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.

Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later. Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever—because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.

My second story is about love and loss. I was lucky. I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents' garage when I was twenty. We worked hard, and in ten years, Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a two billion dollar company with over four thousand employees. We'd just released our finest creation, the Macintosh, a year earlier, and I'd just turned thirty, and then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone, who I thought was very talented, to run the company with me, and for the first year or so, things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our board of directors sided with him, and so at thirty, I was out, and very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating. I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down, that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure and I even thought about running away from the Valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me. I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I'd been rejected but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods in my life. During the next five years I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world's first computer-animated feature film, "Toy Story," and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. APPLAUSE.

In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT and I returned to Apple and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance, and Lorene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life's going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love, and that is as true for work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking, and don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it, and like any great relationship it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don't settle. APPLAUSE.

My third story is about death. When I was seventeen I read a quote that went something like "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." LAUGHTER. It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past thirty-three years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "no" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at seven-thirty in the morning and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three-to-six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctors' code for prepare to die. It means to try and tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next ten years to tell them, in just a few months. It means to make sure that everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your good-byes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy where they stuck an endoscope down by throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope, the doctor started crying, because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and, thankfully, I am fine now. APPLAUSE.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept. No one wants to die, even people who want to go to heaven, don't want to die to get there, and yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent, it clear out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you. But someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it's quite true. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drowned out your own inner voice, and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.


When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalogue, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stuart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the last '60s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form thirty-five years before Google came along. It was idealistic, overflowing with neat tools and great notions. Stuart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalogue, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words "Stay hungry, stay foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. "Stay hungry, stay foolish." And I have always wished that for myself, and now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you. Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Thank you all, very much.


EMCEE: Thank you, Steve, for those very personal and thoughtful words.

Related material: Watch the commencement speech on YouTube.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

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Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 24, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Steve Jobs- a class act! Thanks for making Apple the best company in the world.

Like this comment
Posted by Live-Long-And-Prosper
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Here's wishing you a long life, Steve.

Like this comment
Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Aug 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

The following comments were moved from a duplicate thread:

Posted by Sharon, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 45 minutes ago:

Jobs has resigned as CEO and wants the current COO to be the next CEO.

In his resignation letter Jobs said that he had always said that he would stay as CEO as long as he could continue to fulfill his duties.

Alas no more.

Wonder who the other contenders for CEO are--or is it a shoe in--surely the investors should have some say in this matter


Posted by Sharon, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 32 minutes ago:

Apple stock is down but will bounce back.

We lost a legend in Ken Oshman recently

--like Oshman-- Apple had a succession plan in place after Jobs past 2 health crises

Like this comment
Posted by PAltan
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm

One hopes he can find similar miracles in the world where his pancreatic cancer is concerned. I lost a close family member to pancreatic cancer and wouldn't wish it on anyone. I hope he is right that he can continue whether at Apple or anywhere else, just that he can continue...

Like this comment
Posted by in the neighborhood
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Best wishes Steve - you are an icon, you are a hero, you are a survivor, but most of all - you are a father and a husband. I wish you the best in the years to come, and I wish you many more years. It has been a pleasure.

Like this comment
Posted by me too
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm

It is sad to see him leave the position,but I wish him the best too.

Like this comment
Posted by Hulkamaina
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 25, 2011 at 10:48 am

I worked at Apple when Steve got cut by Sculley. It was like the soul of the place had been killed. This time he's going out on his own terms with an orderly transition that's been in place for quite a while.

Take time to smell the roses Steve.

Like this comment
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Steve has been a wonderful neighbor in Old Palo Alto. He didn't have to tear down a beautiful old house to build a "shrine to his wealth."
I wish him a long life. Best wishes to your beautiful family.

Like this comment
Posted by very close neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Elizabeth - I agree - and my kids just love the Halloween haunted house year after year. What a terrific family. I wish them the best.

Like this comment
Posted by time to smell the roses
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm

best tweets I noticed:

"Why do people care so much about Steve Jobs resigning?" he typed on a square of glass that contained all the music he ever owned


"Still unimaginable: that Jobs was the most important person in personal technology both in 1978 and in 2011"

Like this comment
Posted by he's right
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm

just cause you see someone you think is a ''bum'', you NEVER know. THAT person may have an answer no one else does!

Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm

All good wishes, thoughts, and prayers to Steve Jobs.

Like this comment
Posted by hopeful
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 25, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Thank you Steve for changing our lives in so many wonderful ways. Our most heartfelt wishes for you.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 26, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I appreciate Apple's wonderful products and how they have shaped our lives. I look forward to many more years of elegant, useful innovation & my friends who work there loving their jobs. And speaking of Jobs, as a kid, I recall the Steves hanging out locally w/others geeking out & teaching us computer stuff. His intensity & ambition were very obvious back then, even to us kids. I've had some other less-than-pleasant experiences w/him over the years, but those stopped & I've been left w/an appreciation for his contributions to our lives. Frankly, that's been a much-appreciated surprise.

Like so many, I've lost a loved one to a different type of pancreatic cancer & it's wonderful that he's been able to still do so much. Seeing Jobs's commitment to his employees, stockholders & products demonstrates his strong integrity, even with his personal challenges. My thoughts and best wishes to him & his family. I hope to hear how much he's enjoying life!

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by hp lab
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm

i have heard once he worked for hp lab,he got some great ideas,but the management did not listen,if they were then there would be a different story.

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2011 at 5:02 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by emptiness
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Aug 26, 2011 at 5:20 pm

No matter how smart how wealthy how beaitiful how powful you are,there will always be a day that nothing matters to you.

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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