Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking a medical leave of absence, a week after revealing that he suffers from a condition he described as a hormone imbalance.
In an e-mail to employees released Wednesday by Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Jobs said he was stepping aide temporarily to focus on his condition, which he had earlier said wouldn’t hinder his duties. He also said the move would better ensure that rampant media speculation about his health won’t overshadow Apple’s work.
Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, will run the company until his return in summer, Jobs said, adding that he will continue to retain the position of CEO during that time.
“During the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought,” Jobs wrote. “In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.”
“As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out,” he added. “I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.”
Rumors surrounding the health of Apple’s most famous employee have continued since Jobs’ July 2004 surgery for pancreatic cancer. They resurfaced following his dramatically thinner appearance at Apple’s 2008 Worldwide Developers Conference.
Further fanning the flames of gossip has been the fact that Apple is widely seen as reluctant to speak openly about Jobs’ health. Industry rumormongers regularly criticize Apple and Jobs for the fact that his cancer had not been disclosed to shareholders until after his surgery, despite a diagnosis months earlier, in October 2003.
Jobs indicated Wednesday that the ongoing buzz around his health had also been a factor in his decision to take a leave of absence.
“I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well.”