Steve Jobs may have led Apple out of a near death experience. He may have even delivered the goods this last holiday season as many new iPod converts flooded Apple Stores creating long lines and increasing the bandwidth demands creating download delays. However, if the forms were not followed to meet the ethical requirements demanded by the SEC and investors seeking to place their trust in a company in the form of investment dollars, Jobs might end up out of a job even after he proved he could get the job done.
Investors have a love love relationship with Jobs and the price reflects their trust that he can continue to deliver. However, today the stock was battered down by 2% after disclosures that a stock option granted to Steve Jobs himself was not approved by the board of directors and that papers were doctored to indicate that the board had provided approval for the options.
This revelation seems to have pushed Jobs towards retaining his own counsel for an investigation that might turn its focus on him personally. In October an internal Apple investigation concluded that Jobs may have been aware of a few backdating situations but had not himself been the beneficiary of financial benefits resulting from backdating. This new revelation might prove to be a wink link in Jobs’ armor or it might prove to be a red herring to distract investors and regulators away from the question that probably should be more important.
Why was Jobs not aware of the backdating and why did he not institute controls, oversight and mechanism to prevent abuse?