Suggesting that Steve Jobs leave his position at Apple is enough to rouse the wrath of the faithful, even though he was kicked out of the company once before. But no matter what good he may have done the company since his return, recently emerging behavior makes it clear that it is time for Jobs to find his fourth act after Apple, NeXT, and Pixar so he stops endangering the business that he built.
There was the well-documented liver transplant hormone imbalance. The rash of problems with overheating iPhones and iPods, with one unit even exploding, and Apple trying to hush up at least one victim as well as a reporter. There was having Google CEO Eric Schmidt on the board of directors while the two companies were clearly competitors. There is the behavior that the Times of London recently dubbed Bad Steve and Good Steve (via AppleInsider). Some of the stories (and granted there's no dating many of them) are absolutely hair raising when you consider what you need in a chief executive:
One excessively strait-laced candidate for a job at Apple bored him so much, he sprang questions like "How old were you when you lost your virginity?" and "How many times have you taken LSD?" on the poor sap. (Jobs has said that taking LSD was one of the most important things in his own life.) Then he lapsed into a chant of "Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble". "I guess I'm not the right guy for this job," said the candidate finally.And then there's the flip side:
But then there's Good Steve. Abused employees, if they survive, often find themselves praised to the heavens. They ride on what is know as the "hero-asshole rollercoaster" and they live inside the "reality distortion field", Jobs's uncanny ability to convince people that the utterly impossible is, in fact, entirely possible.Apparently Apple tried to get the paper to spike this story. You can see why.
The company can survive without Jobs. Apple can thrive without Jobs. In fact, it's conceivable that the business could even do better at this point without Jobs. It did well enough with Jobs out on sick leave. It might do even better than that if it could excise the secrecy and manipulation that is seriously starting to limit it. One of the hardest things to manage about success is overstaying your welcome. Let Apple create little altars to give out to the faithful to keep the myth and let the man yield the stage.
Image via Flickr user blakespot, CC 2.0.