Apple's Steve Jobs: what wasn't asked, or said

Much of the investment and tech world is eager to learn more about the health and prognosis of the ailing Apple CEO Steve Jobs for good reason.

Much of the investment and tech world is eager to learn more about the health and prognosis of the ailing Apple CEO Steve Jobs for good reason.

He represents the brain trust of a public company that has a larger market capitalization than Microsoft. His health, many argue, is a fundamental piece to the health and future of Apple. If this is true, how should IR pros handle inquiries from reporters and analysts on Jobs' well-being?

It seems it might be a matter of respecting personal privacy. A Bloomberg article reports that analysts refrained from asking Jobs about his health in an earnings call a day after he announced he was going on medical leave.

According to the report, Jobs circulated an e-mail to Apple employees and the public to respect his personal privacy. Yet, according to the report, one analyst said it was the duty of the analysts to ask such a question.

I was shocked” said Gleacher & Co analyst Brian Marshall in the article. “It's difficult to run a $100 billion annual revenue company when you're forced to take medical leave. The elephant in the room wasn't addressed. It was a pretty disappointing call.”

(Marshall said the call ended before he could ask the question)

Whether the question would have been is unknown. But it raises an interesting debate on the role and scope of analyst and investor relations on matters of personal health for public company leaders.

After all, in this case, billions of public investment dollars are at stake.

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