That week he gathered his top managers and staff in the Apple auditorium
for a rally, followed by a picnic featuring beer and vegan food, to celebrate
his new role and the company’s new ads. He was wearing shorts, walking
around the campus barefoot, and had a stubble of beard. “I’ve been back
about ten weeks, working really hard,” he said, looking tired but deeply
determined. “What we’re trying to do is not highfalutin. We’re trying to get
back to the basics of great products, great marketing, and great distribution.
Apple has drifted away from doing the basics really well.”
For a few more weeks Jobs and the board kept looking for a permanent CEO.
Various names surfaced—George M. C. Fisher of Kodak, Sam Palmisano at
IBM, Ed Zander at Sun Microsystems—but most of the candidates were
understandably reluctant to consider becoming CEO if Jobs was going to remain
an active board member. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Zander declined
to be considered because he “didn’t want Steve looking over his shoulder,
second-guessing him on every decision.” At one point Jobs and Ellison pulled
a prank on a clueless computer consultant who was campaigning for the job; they
sent him an email saying that he had been selected, which caused both amusement
and embarrassment when stories appeared in the papers
that they were just toying with him.
By December it had become clear that Jobs’s iCEO status had evolved from
interim to indefinite. As Jobs continued to run the company, the board quietly
deactivated its search. “I went back to Apple and tried to hire a CEO, with the help
of a recruiting agency, for almost four months,” he recalled. “But they didn’t
produce the right people. That’s why I finally stayed. Apple
was in no shape to attract anybody good.”
The problem Jobs faced was that running two companies was brutal.