2011: The Year of Exodus



If the twenty-first century titans of the IT industry such as Steve Jobs of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Eric Schmidt of Google were to really go missing in action, ripple effects would be felt throughout both their companies and throughout the IT consumer market. These effects would take a temporary toll on both areas and would probably stay around for a certain time period. However, the impact of these IT founders’ absence would be cyclic; their companies have been so profitable and have become so entrenched in modern society that their successors would logically do everything possible to keep them going on the same level. The success of this amid their absence would largely depend on how well these owners had passed on their original visions to their executive management teams.

As demonstrated by the recent absences of Steve Jobs due to medical reasons, certain amounts of consumer apprehension does occur when Jobs and other industry leaders hand over the reins to others within their companies, even temporarily. Consumers who wait in anticipation for the latest gadget such as the iPad start to wonder if the same innovative products would continue to be released with the same regularity. The same type of apprehension is also visible in numbers; once Jobs announced his planned leave on both occasions, his beloved company’s stock market value fell by percentages between 8% and 10%. In fact, the idea of Jobs needing to step down and name a successor has been met with resistance among Apple insiders as well.

Due to excessive and debilitating stress, Mark Zuckerberg recently released a report that he will be shutting Facebook for good in March of 2011. The report turned out to be a chain mail hosting hoax meant to draw attention to some of the realities of just how entrenched the social networking site has become as a mouth piece for news in people’s everyday lives throughout the world. The same can be said for the Internet at large. If Zuckerberg does actually leave his company, he would be leaving it in capable hands of developers, investors, and other executive management. Such is the case of helming a multi-billion-dollar IT mainstay with a Developer Driven environment. Facebook’s millions of users may take news of Zuckerberg’s departure as initially disappointing; however, once they see they are able to access and maintain their Facebook pages as normal, life will go on with their status updates and friend liking.

Some IT leaders with established longevity however seem to be able to reach a point where they can step down without many viewing their departures as detrimental. Such is the case with Eric Schmidt of Google. Schmidt’s role in recent years has been more of a public relations one than anything else when it comes to the company he helped start. Google insiders who may have been working there for years probably see his departure as the end of an era. Just as with Apple, Google’s stock experienced a dip when the news came out. But the numbers did rebound quickly, suggesting a healthy level of confidence in Schmidt’s successors which is a stark contrast to Apple.

If the leaders of these IT giants were to leave their positions, there would likely be some changes in overall internal operations; this would largely depend on the existing environments of individual companies. They may also be some changes in the time frames and presentations of new products to consumers. The public should be rest assured though that none of these corporations would suddenly go away, due to the very nature of a corporation as an entity in itself.

What should be realized is that being a founding CEO of one of these revolutionizing companies is not even remotely easy; deadlines, meetings, very long workdays, and public appearances are just a few of the many responsibilities involved. Just as with anyone else, excessive stress can have a debilitating effect on the health and overall quality of life for an IT founder. Maintaining balance between work and relaxation goes a long way in counteracting this negative cycle. Twenty-hour workdays are not beneficial for anyone, even those who are viewed as celebrity geniuses. So for up-and-coming IT innovators who may start-up on cheap hosting plans, it is well-advised to keep this balance in mind as success starts to accumulate.

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