These are questions that do not just keep investors awake at night. They are also top of mind for employees and competitors. With so much of the equity of their corporations linked to their own persons it is hard to separate the corporate brand into parts. And it is hard to know how the market will react when a planned or sudden transition of leadership occurs. A taste of the consequences can be seen in the case of Steve Jobs following the near collapse of Apple after his ouster in 1996. John Heilenmann writes in
New York Magazine
(June 18, 2007):
The Steve Jobs story is one of the classic narratives — maybe the classic narrative — of American business life. Its structure has been rigorous, traditional, and symmetrical: three acts of ten years each. Act One (1975–1985) is “The Rise,” in which Jobs goes into business with his pal, Steve Wozniak; starts Apple in his parents' Silicon Valley garage; essentially invents the personal-computer industry with the Apple II; takes Apple public, making himself a multimillionaire at age 25; and changes the face of technology with the Macintosh. Act Two (1985–1996) is “The Fall”: the expulsion from Apple, the wilderness years battling depression and struggling to keep afloat two floundering new businesses NeXT and Pixar. Act Three (1997–2007) is “The Resurrection”: the return to Apple and its restoration, the efflorescence of Pixar and its sale to Disney, the megabillionairehood, the sanctification as god of design and seer of the digital-media future.