Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs is taking a medical leave of absence, according to a memo he released to company employees today.
“At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company,” Jobs said. “I have asked COO Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations.”
Apple did not state the reason for his leave.
“I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can,” he added. “In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.”
In 2004, Jobs underwent successful surgery to treat a very rare form of pancreatic cancer, however, he continued to be plagued by health issues. Then in 2009, Jobs went on a medical leave, secretly flying to Tennessee to receive a liver transplant. While Jobs was away, Cook took over chief executive duties as well.
In June 2009, Jobs came back to work, though exceedingly gaunt. He reappeared in public in September of that year to unveil new products during 90-minute event.
Over the last decade, Jobs has led one of the most celebrated comebacks in business history. After stumbling and nearly going out of business in the 1990s, Jobs returned to the company that had fired him and reinvented the sluggish PC maker with stylish new products such as the MacBook, iPod, iPhone and new iPad.
Apple now earns more than twice as much from mobile devices and music than it does from Mac sales, underscoring the revolutionary shift it helped create in the tech industry.
During that period, its stock price rocketed by more 10 times in value to overtake rival Microsoft and become the largest tech company in the world. In addition, Jobs last year received his customary $1 salary, making him the world’s most poorly paid billionaire.
When asked about his health in an interview last June, Jobs replied, “I’m feeling great. But the last few years have reminded me that life is fragile.”