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Shareholders Push Hard For Apple Succession Plan 233

Posted by timothy
from the oh-and-one-more-thing-aaaaaaaaaghhhh dept.
eldavojohn writes "Apple has been a couple weeks now sans their iconic fearless leader and the shareholders are getting restless without a succession plan. Essentially the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) is saying that there hasn't been enough disclosure in why exactly Steve is absent and they'd like an annual succession plan delivered to shareholders. Apple is recommending that on February 23 at its annual company meeting, its shareholders vote against the proposal for a succession plan. Apple may have a plan for life after Steve Jobs but if they do they are not sharing it with anyone — not even their financiers!"
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Shareholders Push Hard For Apple Succession Plan

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  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew.gmail@com> on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:48PM (#35096476) Homepage Journal

    Publicly saying you're concerned and don't have confidence in your company is a sure-fire way to drive your stock price through the roof.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      It could be interesting to see the volume of short sales for the last week or so.

    • You speak with much sarcasm, but who's to say they aren't gaming the system a bit here?

      Speak ill of the company, the stock price begins to slide, the company complies, and you rush in with a bunch of automated orders that you had queued up to scoop up the stock as the announcement is made.

      I am not a stock broker, but this is a conspiracy that I might bite on.

    • Most companies are run by the guy who invented the damn thing. Microsoft was driven by Bill Gates; when Gates went away, so did Microsoft. Ballmer's Microsoft is living on the Microsoft Monopoly, but Ballmer is running the company into the ground; the cunning, foresight, and business sense that made Microsoft what it was is partially Bill Gates' leadership. When the CEO becomes a check-collector or just gets replaced by someone else, the company loses his insight and falls apart.

      Apple without Steve Jobs

      • by westlake (615356)

        Most companies are run by the guy who invented the damn thing. Microsoft was driven by Bill Gates; when Gates went away, so did Microsoft.

        Not true.

        Microsoft was launched in 1975. 36 years ago.

        Gates knew when it was time to let go, other entrepreneurs have failed this test badly.

        Henry Ford had become so set in his ways by the 1940s that the government considered him a threat to the war effort - and nationalization of the Ford Motor Company was averted only because his own family voted their stock against him.

        Factoring out the effect of the Windows launch, Microsoft estimated growth around 3%, "in line with PC market growth." Again, 3% growth isn't terrific, but it's nowhere near as bad as the headline figure suggests.

        Even if Microsoft's Windows revenue does start to slide in coming years, the company can weather the blow. Sure, Windows revenue makes up a quarter of Microsoft's total sales. But its business-software division -- including Office, as well as SharePoint and Exchange -- contributes 30% of its revenue, and that division expanded its profit by 35% last quarter.

        Other divisions are seeing similarly strong profit growth. Microsoft's server and tools division, which makes up another 22% of revenue, saw its profit rise by 21%. And the entertainment group, which makes Xbox and Kinect and accounts for 19% of revenue, posted profit growth of a whopping 86%.

        No, the iPad Is Not Killing Microsoft's Business [dailyfinance.com]

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:51PM (#35096534) Homepage

    Even in death, Steve Jobs will always be Apple's Eternal Leader. He can appoint his son as the Dear Leader.

    • That explains the artillery fire.
    • Except Juche never produced anything worthwhile. At least Apple offers products and services that people want.

      Mr Jobs can continue his cult of personality for all I care. As long as Apple continues to be successful in the marketplace, I could care less about that man in my everyday life.

  • by vell0cet (1055494) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:53PM (#35096562)
    If Jobs dies, they'll just string him up and move him around "Weekend at Bernie's" like
  • by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @05:53PM (#35096564)

    I'm puzzled by the market cap of Apple being ~$0.3T ... when the company never issues dividends. What's the point of owning stock then? it's like owning shares of the moon: yeah, it's there, and you may be legal owner of a miniscule fraction thereof, but you don't get anything from it and those doing anything with it won't consult you.

    • by bsDaemon (87307)

      Because people hope that they can hold onto it juts long enough for it to get really, super expensive and then sell off for a huge payout. Also, maybe it'd split? Some day Apple may offer dividends, so some people will likely hold onto it, however since a lot of people seem to look at dividends as a sign that a company has no more growth potential that'd kill them right now.

      • Those people are stupid. Dividend-paying companies almost always do better than non-dividend-paying companies. Dividends are a sign that a company is run well, has great liquidity, great financial stability, and is turning a profit. IMB paid great dividends and was doing well until the banking crisis; when it fell into dire straits, its stock price dropped, its dividends shriveled, and they continued to work hard to keep it stable. It eventually failed when Schumer said that they were "falling apart" an

      • Because people hope that they can hold onto it juts long enough for it to get really, super expensive and then sell off for a huge payout.

        Which is pretty much the exact definition of a Ponzi scheme.

        • by iluvcapra (782887)
          People get this wrong a lot. A Ponzi scheme is when someone takes your money and promises you a return and lies to you about how they're going to get that return. A Ponzi scheme is a kind of fraud. When you're holding a piece of property for appreciation, you know exactly what you have and how you're trying to make money.
          • by dgatwood (11270)

            No, a Ponzi scheme, according to Wikipedia, is "a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to separate investors, not from any actual profit earned by the organization, but from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors."

            By that definition, the stock market for non-dividend-paying stocks is effectively a Ponzi scheme. If the company gets in dire straits, your stock becomes worthless, the company reorganizes, and you realize that you're not really holding a portion of the company. You'

      • by alexander_686 (957440) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @06:59PM (#35097698)

        The value of a stock is all future cash flows [i.e. dividends] discounted [i.e. interest rate + risk of owing a stock] back to today.

        Apple has not paid any dividends because it believes that it can grow future profits and the current cash faster then if the owners were to take there money and invest in something else. That being said, Apple is sitting on a LOT of cash, so I have a hard time believing them – but your mileage may very.

        And because Apple is a growing, profitable concern – i.e. the value of the company is growing – it makes sense that the stock is worth something. Once again I am not sure I would agree with the current stock market value – but there are people who do. It’s not a ponzi scheme which requires new investors to support the old.

        • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @10:30PM (#35099816)

          Itâ(TM)s not a ponzi scheme which requires new investors to support the old.

          Except it actually does.

          Your shares pay you nothing ever unless you cash them out (and your only ahead if you get more than you paid after commissions), meaning a new investor has to buy your shares for more than you paid for them for you to realize any profit.

          Because the company never returns money back to the investors, the only money existing investors get out, is from new investors buying in.

          That is starting to look like a ponzi scheme.

          A classic ponzi scheme has the returns of the old investors paid for directly by the new investors, and for the returns to continue, ever more new investors have to buy in.

          Now Apple isn't a true ponzi... there is a real company under there, with real value, and holding apple stock represents real wealth in terms of it being a fractional part of the real company. What that value is is debatable, but its definitely way above zero.

          However its day to day valuation does actually behave pretty much exactly like a ponzi scheme. Any money made by owning apple shares is funded by new investors buying in at a higher price. Any money they make is made from new investors buying in even at a higher price. And so on... that is fundamentally not sustainable.

          Apple has not paid any dividends because it believes that it can grow future profits and the current cash faster then if the owners were to take there money and invest in something else.

          And that's a fair rationale... we need this cash to make the company better, and you the investor will hold a larger more valuable company as a result. However, that only works in the short / medium term... when that becomes a perpetual promise, then it never pays.

          It would be like loaning your brother a $1, on the promise of getting $1.20 at the end of the week. At the end of the week, he says... hold up another week and I'll get you $1.50... and you say sure... 25 years later go by and you still haven't been paid. Sure, your brothers made good use of the money and is a rich bastard who owes you millions... but you'll die before he evers pays up... or maybe he finally screws up goes broke and you'll be lucky to get your original $1 out.

          That's investing in apple... although at least you can get out whenever you want, as long as you can find someone else who believes more in your brother (Apple) than you do.

    • What, you've never heard of "trading"? Buy low, sell high?
    • by jfengel (409917)

      The company does make revenue, and you own a share of it. In principle, it could be handed out as dividends, but the shareholders collectively decide to reinvest it instead.

      They could, in theory, divide it all up and hand it out. They don't ever actually have to do it; the company is worth more alive than dead. But that they could is the fundamental source of value.

      The price of Apple's share's isn't completely out of line with its revenues. Even after its run-up, its price is only 18 times the revenues

      • The company does make revenue, and you own a share of it. In principle, it could be handed out as dividends, but the shareholders collectively decide to reinvest it instead.

        In much the same way that Russian peasants collectively decided on Five Year Plans [wikipedia.org].

      • by mgblst (80109)

        Don't forget, apple also have over 100 billion in cash. There is a third of that market cap right there.

    • This is something I actually agree with. Stock was supposed to be that you actually own a portion of a company. Whats the point in owning a portion of the company if you don't share some of the profits from the company? I suppose the counter-argument would be you should share some of the losses, however you are essentially giving money to the company so if the stock tanks then its like the company defaulting on a loan. I realize that if a company makes more money the stock goes up in value, but frankly a no
      • by ed1park (100777)

        "As long as prospective returns are above the rate required to produce a dollar of market value per dollar retained, we will continue to retain all earnings. Should our estimate of future returns fall below that point, we will distribute all unrestricted earnings that we believe cannot be effectively used. In making that judgment, we will look at both our historical record and our prospects. Because our year-to-year results are inherently volatile, we believe a five-year rolling average to be appropriate fo

    • by Animats (122034)

      I'm puzzled by the market cap of Apple being ~$0.3T ... when the company never issues dividends.

      Right. The value of a stock is the present value of future dividends. (Maybe adjusted for stock buybacks.)

      IBM pays dividends. Microsoft pays dividends. Disney pays dividends. Companies which pay diividends historically have a higher return than those which don't. [fool.com] Companies in their startup phase usually don't pay dividends. Apple is an old company, now 35 years old, and well past that point.

      There's inv

      • But you're neglecting the most important thing: for all practical purposes, Apple right now is in a "startup phase". The company may have been around for a while, but their products are being treated today, for some good reasons, as though Apple were the "cool tech newcomer" in the market.

        Their market share has been growing tremendously. Maybe you missed the announcement in 2010 that Apple, as "small" as it is, bypassed Microsoft in net worth.

        A company that is in a serious growth phase should act like
  • A prominent company, Apple, told investors today that it was not in their best interests to know the company's plans for the time after Steve. Unsurprisingly, this is causing questions as to why knowing who is planned to be the next CEO is a bad thing, and hurting stock prices.

  • I'll do it.

    Take his place that is.

    Problem solved!

    So, do I get payed via check or direct transfer or what?

  • Rumor mill says Eric Schmidt.
    • by monoqlith (610041)

      Eh. Not sure if he fits the profile. Schmidt seems to fulfill more of a management and supervisory position to execute what the visionaries - who are not him - want to get done. I think they're going to probably want someone like Jobs who - in addition to Schmidt's manamagent style - has a very clear idea of what he's aiming for, and is often the only one who has that idea sufficiently clearly to effectively direct the organization beneath him

  • NO!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gbrandt (113294) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @06:02PM (#35096724)

    No corporation is required to have a succession plan. Why should Apple?

    You are going to say that Steve is so important to Apples success and continued success that a plan should be required.

    I'm going to say that Steve is one man that relies on many people to come up with a successful product.

    If there is no law that requires a succession plan, then Apple should not be made to make a plan.

    • Re:NO!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SydShamino (547793) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @06:12PM (#35096922)

      If there is no law that requires a succession plan, then Apple should not be made to make a plan.

      So you're saying that the shareholders - the owners of the company - cannot direct any actions of their company? Only the government can direct action via law?

      • by tres (151637)

        Fine. get 51% of the "owners" to agree to the course of action. Once you've crossed that threshold, then you've got a point.

    • Re:NO!! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lev13than (581686) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @06:14PM (#35096978) Homepage

      No corporation is required to have a succession plan. Why should Apple

      Because shareholders own the company. If the company's owners want a succession plan then Apple had better well get cracking.

      Regardless, your assertion is false - most large companies will have succession plans for key staff. Many willl go so far as to take out hefty life insurance policies to cover short-term risk if their CEO, chief product designer, star analyst etc... gets hit by a bus.

      • . Many will go so far as to take out hefty life insurance policies to cover short-term risk if their CEO, chief product designer, star analyst etc... gets hit by a bus.

        Many companies take out life insurance policies on all of their employees. It's called "dead peasant" insurance. (Albiet, the janitor doesn't get a hefty policy).

      • ... a company bus. ~_^
    • "No corporation is required to have a succession plan. Why should Apple?"

      Because their shareholders want one, and the shareholders pay the bills.

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      If there is no law that requires a succession plan, then Apple should not be made to make a plan.

      The company is owned by shareholders and they are the ones who want the succession plan.

      • by Xuranova (160813)

        What are they going to do if upper management doesn't provide one? Fire them? Lawl.

        • by Draek (916851)

          Abandon ship en masse. Quite likely the worst thing that could happen to a publicly traded company such as Apple.

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          What are they going to do if upper management doesn't provide one? Fire them? Lawl.

          Abandon the company. Which is the likely scenario, Apple stock has skyrocketed, but since they don't pay dividends it's all about when to sell, and if Apple don't have a viable plan post-Jobs then now probably is a good time to sell.

    • I'm going to say that Steve is one man that relies on many people to come up with a successful product.

      I don't follow Apple very closely, but my impression is that Jobs is the only public person in the company that matters. He's the chief salesman. The guy with the hype.The person that is interesting enough to the broad spectrum of media so that they engage in massive brouhaha over even minor stories -- like this one. When he's gone, unless he is replaced by someone who can command similar attention, Apple will lose out.

      I'd also venture a guess that only Jobs' charisma and leadership is what makes possible t

    • If there is no law that requires a succession plan, then Apple should not be made to make a plan.

      Whoever said anything about a law? The shareholders have stated they want to see one due to uneasiness about the situation and/or lack of faith the company has any preparations for what happens after Jobs leaves. If they don't get one, they may take their cash and leave. It's their money, they're perfectly in their rights to do so, and there's also no law that says they must keep their money with Apple.

      Now, a law probably DOES enforce the part of the scenario involving the shareholders taking their money

    • by ed1park (100777)

      No corporation is required to be run ethically. Why should Apple?

      lol... Steve Jobs is important. Just like Warren Buffett is important to the success of Berkshire. But even Warren knows it is important to have a succession plan. Although he keeps his secret.

      A father of a large family and estate is not required to have a will, but it will sure make things alot easier for his family.

  • Seriously, we all know that Steve Jobs eternally obsessive management is what has primarily led to Apple's success, and depriving its shareholders of adequate information regarding his health AND not giving them an appropriate succession plan is almost certainly pure arrogance.

    • by Caerdwyn (829058) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @06:42PM (#35097460) Journal

      In at approx. 75. Currently 340-ish. Yeah, they're treating me like garbage. I need more people to treat me like garbage like that.

      He has a serious illness. That's all the info I need on his health. Seriously, does anyone on Planet Earth NOT know he's living on borrowed time (and livers)?

      Succession plan? Tim Cook. Done. Again, does anyone with any interest in who leads Apple not know this?

      • by mikestew (1483105)

        Hey, where'd my mod points go? I took my paltry number of shares and told the whiners to piss up a rope (well, via proxy). I have more faith in a board that has made me a fair bit of money than I do some random pension fund that probably bought mortgage-backed bonds.

  • by stimpleton (732392) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @06:04PM (#35096770)
    "saying that there hasn't been enough disclosure in why exactly Steve is absent"

    Friggin' boards and share holders. I hate them. I am biased obviously. I am in the trenches, so they probably look at me with equal distain.

    This is the generic problem, boards and shareholders poke their governance noses in, not trusting senior operational to make the best decisions. Steve Jobs, and I suspect those around him, would go to their graves doing the best for Apples long term goals.

    Jobs himself will be well aware of consequences of his absence but I am guessing is managing the fact his return is best. I am not a Jobs fanboy, but shareholder boards fuck off and count pennies somewhere else.
    • by Lev13than (581686)

      Friggin' boards and share holders. I hate them... This is the generic problem, boards and shareholders poke their governance noses in, not trusting senior operational to make the best decisions.

      Yeah, because the biggest problem facing corporate America over the past few years has been excessive self-governance.

    • by mini me (132455)

      Shareholders own the company. If you don't like your boss(es), maybe you should find work elsewhere?

      • Or buy back the shares.
      • by alvinrod (889928)
        That doesn't stop them from behaving moronically. It's just as likely that they may be far more interested in short term profits than the long term health of the company. I'd put more faith in Steve and the senior leadership of Apple than their shareholders to do well by the company.

        I'm quite sure that they have plans in place and have had them for several years considering there was a time when no one was really sure if Steve was going to live. Publicly disclosing those plans could cause problems for th
    • by Dhalka226 (559740)

      Apple, unlike most other companies, has experience with how things go with and without him. Apple was nearly destroyed when Steve Jobs was gone, and his return made the company one of the most powerful in the world. That is a big damn jump.

      Of course, that's not to say it's all him, nor is it to say that it would happen that way again. That doesn't mean investors shouldn't be concerned about the possibility and want to know what the company is doing to make sure it doesn't happen that way again. If App

      • by erroneus (253617)

        Steve Jobs is a bit like a news item to the stock market. A good rumor makes the market rise and a bad one makes the market fall. One thing that Apple/Jobs exceeds at, however, is the way they manage their niche markets. They don't want "everyone" to be their customer. They don't want to service the large business enterprises. They want to be exactly where they are. Their target market hasn't changes significantly since the beginning. iPods are an exception but I see a LOT fewer iPods lately. iPhone

        • How do you explain record growth in Mac sales? The iPad is a new product for a different market to one they weren't in at the beginning of last year. The iPhone itself is barely 4 years old. What's an old market?
          • by erroneus (253617)

            Citation? There has been a "growth" in all things PC and networking where it's now unusual when there is just one computer in the home. The iProducts have caused a surge in interest in the Apple logo, but I think that surge has already waned.

  • Need to hire a new CEO? There's an app for that:

    http://jobs.apple.com/index.ajs?Language=en&CountryId=3 [apple.com]

  • it's that he has a plan. And a plan to implement that plan.

    Apple is usually quit on these types of matters.
    Persoanlly, I don't think he can be replaced, and think it will rot after he leaves. Very few peoplea re smart, and motivated, and understand what people want, AND listen to experts in specific fields and let them what they do best.

    Apple has many talented people, but a frontman and driver? That's going to be hard to get.

  • by BearRanger (945122) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @06:28PM (#35097232)

    Why would Apple want to publish a plan if they have one? The top executives who aren't in line to move up will become dissatisfied and will look for opportunities elsewhere. The executives who are tapped won't have a timetable to move up, and will be sniped at and sabotaged by the executives who aren't in line in the hopes of improving their positions. It's a recipe for internal dissent and distraction.

    Apple is right and should resist this call to appoint a successor. If the shareholders don't like it they always have the option of selling their shares.

    • Why would Apple want to publish a plan if they have one? .

      Because the shareholders -- THE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY OWN THE COMPANY -- say they want one. If Apple management doesn't like taking orders from the owners of the company they always have the option of working elsewhere.

      • by omni123 (1622083)

        No -- Apple are taking it a vote and strongly encouraging their shareholders to vote against it.

        If the shareholders vote for it I am sure they will make efforts (slowly most likely) to appease the shareholders. That being said Apple management will know what is best for their company--likely more so then the few hundred thousand shareholders, bar a few key holders--and the reason is as GP suggested.

        Succession plans reveal weaknesses in your line-up and create dissent between your top execs and this is a rec

      • Because the shareholders -- THE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY OWN THE COMPANY

        What company lets shareholders RUN the company?

        Why are there more here chiming in that obviously could care less than those that actually have interesting and inciteful things to say? C'mon Slashdot posters... I come here for the comments, (and to troll) and lately, you've really been sucking. Please stop sucking.

    • Why would Apple want to publish a plan if they have one?

      Perhaps because a substantial fraction of Apple's shareholders are=, with reasonable grounds, concerned about the risk the absence of such a plan poses to the continued success of the company, and because Apple (that is, Apple's management team) works for the shareholders, not the other way around.

  • Whenever a company gets complaints about a move that is controversial or unpopular, management's answer is always the same: "We have an obligation to our shareholders to ________ (whatever)".

    So now, the shareholders, those people whom management cares about so deeply, are saying "We want to know what the succession plan is" and management's answer is "F.U. it's none of your business".

  • Seriously, who's up for a job at Apple that pays only one dollar per year? That is Steve's official salary boys and girls, and it's going to be very difficult to find someone talented and innovative who will accept such an offer at such low pay.

    All that said, I vote for Woz -- get the other founder to take over and that's a story Wall Street would love... for about 5 seconds.

    I only hope the board has some brains and finds someone willing to run the company as Steve would, and NOT some MBA idiot who's only g

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @07:05PM (#35097782) Homepage

    I was going to say that Steve Jobs had better start cloning himself to take over, but then I remembered what happened the last time there was an Apple clone -- they were sued out of existence and then Apple took the clone and called it "Apple IIe" So I'm guessing a Steve Jobs clone wouldn't last long either.

  • I'm sure Apple has had a detailed plan for a very long time. Now why in the hell should they be forced to let their competitors know that plan?

  • Maybe they should bring him back? Unfortunately, like was mentioned before Steve Jobs is Apple's leader. What I think is important is for them not to get sidetracked on a search for a new face but instead keep their products innovative and in the spotlight.
  • I am white, lanky, and I like wearing blue jeans and tennis shoes. I'm less nervous speaking to large crowds than small ones. I am an INTP which is close enough to ENTP. I don't own any mock turtlenecks but I imagine I could afford a few by exercising AAPL stock options. I've been using Apple products off and on since 1988, and bought a Titanium PowerBook G4 when it was frowned upon to own an Apple. So when do I start?

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