Arts & Culture

Why You Should Sell Your Apple Stock Now

As has been evident for months, Steve Jobs is not a well man. In April, Bloomberg ran an erroneous but telling obituary of the Apple founder, which sent the company –and stockholders — into a slight panic. And the public … Read More

By / January 22, 2009

As has been evident for months, Steve Jobs is not a well man. In April, Bloomberg ran an erroneous but telling obituary of the Apple founder, which sent the company –and stockholders — into a slight panic. And the public statements he’s released since then, leading up to his just-announced six month leave of absence as CEO, have been erratic and disingenuous. He has been alternatively "fine," afflicted with a "common bug," "digestive difficulties," and a "hormone imbalance." A survivor of pancreatic cancer, which was diagnosed in 2004 and for which he had a tumor surgically removed, Jobs has recently grown alarmingly gaunt, his voice has sounded reedy, and he’s handed over many of his celebrated speaking gigs to underlings who lack his charisma. Jobs was a no-show at this year’s Macworld–the computer geek equivalent of a Paris Review party without George Plimpton.

Now comes word that Jobs has islet cell cancer and everyone who can type AskDoctor.com has been furiously trying to figure out if it means the end of the visionary businessman.

I asked a radiation oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard, about Jobs’ chances. She was spot-on about Ted Kennedy before the official diagnosis came out (she had nothing to do with his case, however), and so her email ought to be heeded by anyone with Apple stock:

Islet cell cancer is a funny disease. Relatively rare, sometimes curable. In this case, doesn’t look like it. His appearance is one of advanced cancer. He unfortunately tried to cure it in 2004 with "diet" so delayed getting to surgery.

Jobs isn’t just a chief executive, he’s a tech svengali, rightly credited with reinventing his company and pushing must-have goodies, from iPods to iPhones, that have since become talismans of cultural interconnectedness. His declining health is of course tragic, and no one should feel good about playing the actuarial market that most business sections have been frantically doing all week (this, more than a housing implosion or a multi-billion dollar bailout, would have put a diabolically affirming grin on the face of Karl Marx). But Jobs’ health not just the private matter he and Apple flacks have been insisting it is. As goes he, so goes Apple, and in this economy, bourgeois callousness and calculation can seem a virtue.