Should Steve Jobs be Apple’s next leader? How about Netscape boss Jim Barksdale? Lee Iacocca? Or maybe even Mike Tyson?
And what about Bill Gates?
Those are some of the names that Macintosh users are throwing around as they debate - or joke about - who should be Apple Computer Inc.’s new chief executive officer.
A few Mac devotees even want the job themselves, presumably confident they can lift Apple out of the red, shore up its sinking market share and inspire confidence in its future. Or not.
“Everyone thinks, ‘Oh, the poor CEO of Apple,’ but you can retire on the severance,” said Tom Geller, a San Francisco Macintosh consultant who announced his tongue-in-cheek candidacy on the Internet.
The biting humor of many suggestions might appear to contradict Macintosh users’ legendary loyalty. But for many, the jests are an expression of concern for Apple and their beloved Macs.
“While there are things at Apple that make them upset and angry, (users) have this almost-bizarre sense of humor about it. It’s like they’re saying … ‘Let’s lighten up,”’ said Cheryl England, editor in chief of MacAddict News magazine, which asked readers to “vote” for a CEO.
Apple is looking for new leadership following the July 9 ouster of CEO Gil Amelio, who had been hired 18 months earlier to turn the company around.
While Amelio streamlined operations, improved quality, built cash reserves and charted a new software strategy, Apple’s revenues continue to erode. Directors decided Apple needs a CEO with marketing savvy and personal leadership to excite customers about the Macintosh.
Mac users generally agree. Joe Ragosta of Elkton, Md., doesn’t endorse anyone in particular but said it’s essential that Apple pick someone who can convince the public that it’s solved its worst problems.
“That means they can forget computer geeks and get someone who’s familiar with consumer marketing,” said Ragosta, who thinks someone with the appeal of former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca or Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas would be ideal.
Other Mac users favor specific candidates. The nearly 6,000 people who responded to the MacAddict poll gave the most votes to Apple “evangelist” Guy Kawasaki, company co-founder Steve Jobs and former chief technologist Ellen Hancock. The fact that Kawasaki and Jobs have said they’re not interested in being CEO hasn’t dampened enthusiasm among their fans.
Others recommended by survey participants and news group posters include: Steve Kahng, head of Mac clone maker Power Computing; Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak; Oracle chairman Larry Ellison, who publicly mulled taking over Apple; and Netscape Communications Corp. chief Barksdale.
Several people backed football coach Mike Holmgren. “Hey, he brought the Green Bay Packers, the joke of the NFL, back from obscurity to become Superbowl champions. Who better to lead the Mac back to victory?” wrote one Mac devotee.
Others suggested that hiring Mike Tyson as CEO would give new meaning to the bite taken out of the company’s rainbow apple logo.
Some posts - sure to raise Mac users’ ire - even recommended Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates, ruler of the Evil Empire as far as Macintosh fans are concerned.