Before his tragic and untimely death last October, Steve Jobs’s chronic health issues were such a constant concern for investors that they arguably kept the stock price of the company artificially low for years, as Wall Street worried that the company would tank without its charismatic leader at the helm.
Obviously, that hasn’t happened. In fact, since Jobs’s death, Apple’s share price has soared to new highs. As sad as it is to say, in some ways, Jobs’s death finally liberated the stock from the hyperbolic threat of his death, and allowed investors to finally appraise the company as it actually is: the best on Earth, even without Steve, because he made it that way.
But Wall Street never learns. Since Google CEO Larry Page called in sick to last week’s annual meeting, investors are panicking.
Larry Page called out of Thursday’s meeting for undisclosed reasons, although Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said he had “lost his voice.”
Laryingitis, then. Except the plot thickens, because Page has also pre-emptively called out a couple of other speaking engagements over the next few weeks.
Investors are now starting to worry that Page might be another chronically ill CEO, like Steve Jobs.
JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth wrote in a note to clients: “We have no specific reason to think there is anything more to Larry’s condition, but we find it odd that the company would already rule him out of the 2Q call which is likely still a few weeks away.”
If anything, Steve Jobs’s situation is a reminder that if a CEO is doing his job, he can imprint the DNA of how he thinks and how he leads on a company, so that it can survive and even thrive without him. Maybe, though, investors have learned that lesson… and simply don’t believe that Page is anywhere near as capable a leader as Steve Jobs?