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I point to 3 stories of CEO succession that worked. Not every company will turn into HP or Yahoo. A couple co's that had visionary founders have been able to survive for a century or more:

Bob Iger taking over from Michael Eisner: Forbes has a nice write up about his time at Disney which reads very much like the profile of Cook. Iger is a quiet delegator, but has had a tremendous amount of success.


Michael Eisner taking over from Walt Disney: He didn't directly follow Walt, but Eisner reinvigorated an iconic company that was rudderless after Walt died. Paints a picture of what Apple might have looked like if people asked "What Would Steve Do" at every turn.


Jack Welch taking over from Thomas Edison: Again, not directly, but GE was on the ropes when Jack rose to the top and employed a strategy very different from the founder to get 20 years of solid growth.


Ultimately, you want someone with a vision at the top, even if it's not the same vision as the founder. Cook seems to have a plan and can execute on it well. Give the guy a chance!

I don't know the story of all of these, but I know that Iger was at Disney for years before becoming CEO. He was promoted up, and not some outside former CEO that was brought in. Same with Cook, and I believe this same is true of Welch.

Maybe there is something to promoting from within vs hiring some former CEO?

Funny you mention it, that is exactly the subject of a new Economist story[1][2]

[1] http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/05/daily-c...

[2] link from within the charts page above: http://www.economist.com/node/21555895

Jobs did a good job of grooming his replacement(s). Promoting an insider means strategic continuity and established trust.

Yes, Welch started at GE after receiving his PhD. in Chemical Engineering from University of Illinois UC [1]. He joined GE in 1960, and became CEO in 1981.


I have been thinking of hiring CEOs from non-traditional sources for a while now. Look at how Reddit hired Yishan for example.

Another classic one is Gerstner saving IBM and turning the company around. Then his successor successfully kept the company on the same track until he hit retirement age.

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