Could Jon Rubinstein be Apple’s Next CEO?

by Matt Klassen on April 8, 2014

Its no secret that Apple CEO Tim Cook has struggled to maintain the momentum generated by his visionary predecessor Steve Jobs (I wonder if there’s anyone who wouldn’t struggle when trying to fill those shoes), as the company has recently failed to impress the masses as it once did and subsequently failed to generate the same huge returns for its shareholders as it once did.

Given this flagging popularity there are some among the latter group that have started to call for a change at Apple, wanting to oust Tim Cook in favour of a new leadership team more adept at generating strong investor returns (we can only hope that also means a return to creating innovative products). While such a call for change is really nothing new, recently Global Equities’ Trip Chowdhry has started to float the name of who should be the chosen successor: former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein.

Rubinstein, the man who was an integral part of creating Apple’s first major hit, the iPod, and the one responsible for driving Palm into the ground a short while later, stands alone at the top of Chowdhry’s list for Apple succession, but are these the ravings of one analyst looking for the limelight, or is there something to these rumours? Could Jon Rubinstein be Apple’s next CEO?

Chowdhry first raised the possibility of Rubinstein succeeding Cook as Apple’s CEO last summer, and plausible or not, he’s been banging that drum ever since. “The current executive team led by Tim Cook and Peter Oppenheimer have destroyed the shareholder value at Apple,” he wrote in a July 7, 2013, note to clients. “Some are suggesting a new executive team with Jon Rubinstein as CEO and [former Apple CFO] Fred Anderson as CFO. Each of them has a proven track record of creating outstanding shareholder value at Apple.”

He mentioned it again in January, when he noted, “We still think Jon Rubinstein as the new CEO and Fred Anderson as the new CFO could bring Apple closer back to Steve Job’s (sic) Apple, as these two individuals along with Steve Jobs were instrumental in turning Apple company around.” Then again in March: “To prevent further destruction of shareholder value, Apple’s CEO and CFO need to be replaced sooner rather than later. The team of Jon Rubinstein (Father of iPod) as CEO and Fred Anderson as CFO, may be best to revive Apple.”

Earlier this month he unequivocally stated, “Jon Rubinstein, as the new CEO of Apple, is the only one who can revive Apple,” and once again noted that “Apple does not have the capability to understand the competition and lacks the vision and ability to deliver new products; Jon Rubinstein understands what needs to be done and has the ability to deliver.”

Again, are these the mere ravings of an analyst looking for a controversial issue to get him in the spotlight or is Chowdhry merely the only one willing to talk publicly about a plan to bring Rubinstein back to Apple?

While I can offer nothing concrete about such speculation, let me say this: Apple would be crazy to bring back Rubinstein, and Rubinstein would be crazy to come back. While it could be argued that Tim Cook struggles to understand the ever-changing mobile market, I would say compared to Rubinstein’s track record at Palm, Cook is a veritable genius. All Rubinstein was able to do at Palm was drive a floundering company straight into the ground, leaving it as nothing but patent scraps. If that’s the man tasked with reviving Apple to its former glory, hold on folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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