On August 25, 2011, I wrote a special edition of TL NewsWire entitled TechnoLawyer Exists Because of Steve Jobs. Several people have asked me to publish it on the Web, but it's a personal essay about my childhood and entrepreneurial idol that I wanted to share only with TechnoLawyer subscribers (I'd be happy to send Steve Jobs a copy).
In this more public article, I'd like to comment on Apple's succession plan even though it's not a typical TechnoLawyer topic because to my knowledge no one has yet discussed it beyond the immediate future. It's an important topic because Apple has become an important company not just to me, but to the entire legal profession.
As any Apple watcher knows, the company thinks about 5-10 years out when planning its product roadmap (for example, it recently pivoted from the digital hub to iCloud after a 10 or so year run by the former). I suspect the same is true of its succession plan.
In January 2011, Robert X. Cringely published No White Smoke Yet in Cupertino in which he wrote: "It is my guess the next Apple CEO won't be Tim Cook, not because Tim isn't a good executive but because he isn't Steve's creation."
Oops. Cringely erred because he failed to think 5-10 years out like Apple. However, he's correct about Tim Cook not being Steve Jobs' creation.
With Apple's roadmap set for at least five years, the company doesn't need another Steve Jobs at the helm for a while. Instead, Apple needs a Steve Jobs waiting in the wings for its next pivot when it redefines computing … again.
Apple's recent award to new CEO Tim Cook of one million shares of restricted stock, half of which vests in five years and the other half in 10 years, has set the stage for a new Apple CEO in 5-10 years.
Talk about burying the lede. Okay, so who will take over from Tim Cook? Obviously, it's impossible to predict the future, but if I had to make a wager I'd bet on Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall.
Forstall is a Steve Jobs creation — perhaps more so than anyone else at Apple (whom we know about). He's also young. Shortly after graduating from Stanford in the early 1990s, he worked at NeXT, one of the two companies Jobs ran while exiled from Apple. When Apple acquired NeXT, Forstall followed Jobs to Apple.
Simply put, Forstall hit the jackpot, having had Jobs as his mentor for virtually his entire career. Not only has he reported directly to Jobs for several years, but Jobs bestowed upon him the stewardship of Apple's crown jewel — iOS.
Watch Forstall introduce iOS 5's Newsstand app (which I'm excited about) in the short video clip above (click here if you don't see it above). Does he have Steve Jobs' charisma and leadership skills? Perhaps not yet, but give him 10 years.
In 2021 when Tim Cook becomes Chairman and Scott Forstall becomes CEO, remember you heard it here first.
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