Changing of the Guard – Potential Perils in Top Leadership Changes at Chief High Tech Rivals

Last Monday, Steve Jobs announced that he will be taking a leave of absence in order to focus on his personal health issues.  While this is not the first time that Mr. Jobs has taken a medical leave of absence, the tech genius and chief visionary of the company, this time, did not indicate a timeline for return.  He will be replaced by COO, Tim Cook who took over the reins of the company during Mr. Jobs’ two previous leaves of absence.  Mr. Cook, who has effectively run the company for a long time, admits to a deficit in terms of the charisma and the technology vision that Steve Jobs brought to the table.

Not to be upstaged by its premier high tech rival, Google announced, on Thursday, that CEO Eric Schmidt will be stepping down as CEO and will be replaced by Google co-founder Larry Page.  Schmidt had been brought in by founders Page and Sergey Brin to make sure that the company was professionally run and that its corporate infrastructure was properly established, while they provided the visionary input and direction.  Stock analysts, despite better-than-expected earnings, have had mixed opinions.  Google’s challenges are viewed to be quite the opposite of Apple’s situation, where the visionary is departing.  In Google’s case, the concern is that the visionary, who will be taking over, is not going to be up to managing the day-to-day business aspects of the company or, that in doing so, he will lose his visionary edge.

In both situations, the company stocks have dropped.  This, as both companies compete directly with one another and deal with ongoing competition from Microsoft, as well as the rapid emergence of Facebook (privately held) as an additional competitive threat.

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