July 25, 2013
Apple shares rose 6 percent after the company reported better than expected earnings for its third quarter. So how does CNBC celebrate the news? By publishing a bizarre hit piece on the late Steve Jobs. Under the headline, “Apple may be ready to give up Steve Jobs’ ghost,” CNBC blames the co-founder for most of the company’s recent stock woes. Never mind, of course, that Jobs has been dead for nearly two years. To push the narrative, the publication solicited the opinion of two analysts, Max Wolff from Greencrest Capital, and Alex Gauna of JMP Securities. The analysts blame Jobs for everything from Apple’s slow push into larger smartphone devices to the company’s lack of a stock dividend, which Apple CEO Tim Cook first initiated in 2011. Wolff also talks a lot about Jobs’ dislike of cheese. Yes, cheese. The Greencrest Capital analyst notes that Apple had often been constrained by Jobs’ vision. "People would tell them, 'Gee, I like your phone, but the screen's so small.' And they would say, 'Well …' " Gauna, meanwhile, says that people tend to overestimate the co-founder’s role. He states:
What Steve Jobs was always exceptionally good at was being the final gatekeeper. That's the big change—they no longer have that final decision-maker. They no longer have that individual with such bearing and credibility among different teams.Wolff concurred, then added that the extent of Jobs’ vision may have been slightly overstated. He notes:
I don't think channeling (Steve Jobs) is all that useful in the boardroom. Tim Cook is a good CEO. If he's free to make decisions, he'll make good ones. Rather than saying, 'Well, over paella in Menlo Park in 1977, Steve Jobs said, 'I don't like cheese.' "As CNBC concludes:
It's not the stuff of legend—he didn't discover cheese," Wolff said (mentioning the milk curd product for a second time). "He just figured that if you made something that didn't break every five minutes, people would be willing to pay for it."Everything about Jobs that is noted in CNBC’s story is factually correct. Jobs did, for example, believe that smartphone screens shouldn’t exceed 3.5-inches. It was Jobs who refused to initiate stock dividends for investors. And yes, the co-founder did hate dairy products. Nonetheless, this story is entirely off base for one important reason -- call it the unfortunate elephant in the room. You can’t take the historical record of a dead man and project those opinions to the present day. Jobs’ thoughts on computers evolved between the 1980s and 2000s. I have no doubt that his opinions on mobile devices in 2013 would be far different than the ones he had in 2007, or 2010. CNBC would be wise to let Jobs rest in peace.