I wasn't going to write anything about Steve Jobs stepping down as Apple (AAPL) CEO. I thought to myself, "What can I say that has not already been said?" But then, I read a speech Jobs gave and he inspired me:
Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.
Many other lines from that talk warrant a quotation. As I read the various rundowns of Jobs's life, transcripts of speeches he gave and random words he uttered, I could not help but feel inferior. I often feel that way around true greatness.
Steve Jobs leaving Apple is a pop culture story. The man changed the world. He changed the way we live, the way we share information, the way we entertain ourselves and one another, the way we teach, the way we learn and the way doctors treat patients. More than that, though, Jobs completely took the atmospheres we run in and altered them forever when he willed Macbooks, iPods, iPhones and iPads to catch on.
I used to live around the corner from a popular cafe in San Francisco's "hip" Mission district. The New York Times featured it a few years ago.
Every time I rolled down the hill from my 21st Street flat to Valencia and into Ritual Roasters, I thought of Steve Jobs. Even San Francisco's finest hipsters could not give up Apple products once they became cool. They're just too good. Simply put, nothing else that's even close to being better exists for the cooler than cool crowd to move on to. So, in the company of Soccer Moms and suburbanites, yuppies, punks, skaters and businessmen, the hipsters line the tables at Ritual using Apple products... to this day. I'm not sure that will change anytime soon.
Steve Jobs is not dead, but he's gone. Things will never be the same, no doubt, but that does not mean things have to change.
We live in a society that needs heroes and villains. We always need somebody to build up, tear down and blame when things go wrong. For as much of a hero as Steve Jobs is, he would probably be the first to say that he was part of a team at Apple. It's just easier on our brains to pin all of Apple's successes on Steve Jobs. I've done it here. And, to a point, it's warranted.
Others have made the case quite well that Tim Cook and the rest of Apple's executive staff will not only carry on, but they will not miss a beat. Steve Jobs made Apple what it is today. He created a recipe for success. To contend that Cook will simply follow it is an insult. He'll likely work with his colleagues to continue to improve upon it.
There's no reason for Apple's stock to stay down for long on Thursday. It will likely crater because traders and investors are irrational beings who love to react to big pop culture stories. This should not be a stock market story. Apple's quarter and its next two to five years remain intact.
Jobs's departure does not make the competition any better. It won't rid the scene of the copycats he recently chided. It won't stop the Prius drivin', Whole Foods (WFM) shoppin' upper middle class family of four from outfitting themselves with iPhone 5s. Nor will it deter the fixed gear-ridin', cigarette puffin', skinny-jeaned San Francisco hipster from picking up the refreshed Macbook Air. It won't stop K-12 teachers throughout America from doing whatever they can to get their hands on iPads for their classrooms. None of that changes.
All that changes is that we lose a hero. People will "call their brokers" and sell Apple stock. Stop losses will get hit. Headlines will print. And if I may make a bold prediction: Cooler heads will prevail and AAPL will once again move to re-test $380 -- maybe even in a dramatic turn this week or next -- like it was doing before this pop culture story broke.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
Additional disclosure: I may open or close a position in any of the stocks mentioned at any time.