Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What is Apple Without Steve Jobs?

I'm a little bit disturbed this afternoon. My boss sent me an article from today's Fortune Magazine regarding the fate of Apple should Steve Jobs be hit by a bus. There are a myriad of comments flying around on-line about who would be best suited to take the reigns. And then I flipped through the candidates. I was surprised, no shocked, that one glaringly obvious problem with the article was never addressed. Every single one of the *11* possible replacements for Jobs is a white male, and 10 of those are middle-aged. (Jonathan Ives appears to be the one young face in the crowd). Out of 11 hopefuls, not a single woman, nor a single racial minority, and only 1 person who isn't half way through his working life? How can this be? If that's truly the case then I think Apple indeed has something to worry about.

And I'm not trying to stand up for some kind of quota system. I'm not even talking about what's "fair" or "socially just". I'm concerned that with Apple's lack of diversity at the top, they are short-changing their future. And they're putting their "cool factor" at risk. Who's their biggest growth market? Hasn't the success of Silicon Valley been driven by diversity of experience and thought, by people who "dared to be different"? If anything, that line-up looks like every other corporate board room of a company that's struggling to get by in this crazy economy.

Before Jobs decides to exit, I hope he'll take some time and really look at his A players, and then do something to build up those who don't fit the same-old traditional brand of American CEOs. I hope he'll be thoughtful about the experience of women as his team members and as his customers. I hope he'll consider how a range of ethnicities interact with and utilize technology. And for goodness sake, I hope he bets on youth. His legacy depends on it.


Alex said...

This is wonderfully written, and I hope someone at Apple reads this entry!

Christa said...

Thanks for reading my blog and for your comment, Alex. I sent it to Fortune Magazine and am going to send it directly to Apple as well. I appreciate your support!

All best,