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TheStreet Open House

WWJD: What Would Jobs Do?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- In this new post-Jobs era, Apple (AAP) has struggled mightily. Well, sort of. While the stock did continue to make new all-time high after new all-time high, all of the glory -- and happy bulls -- were wiped away when Apple tumbled from $705 in September to $385 in April.

It was sort of like a struggling college football team that was once great. Allow me to explain. In our new era of NCAA football, history-rich, polished football universities expect their teams to win. If they don't, they fire the coach. Much like the corporate landscape of top companies, there's little patience and tolerance for average play.

If the new one -- we'll call him Coach Two -- cannot gain traction, they fire him too. He is given little chance to succeed. When Coach Three is brought in, he is able to generate some big wins and strong seasons in his first couple of years. Then all of sudden, he struggles mightily for a few years -- before potentially being fired.

Why does this happen? Well, all too often, Coach Two, who was brought in to turn things around, did not get enough time to recruit his players and implement his system. By the time Coach Three comes in, he can immediately do great things, with great players, ones that Coach Two brought in, but never got a chance to groom.

In other words, the second hire (Coach Three), in this case Cook, came in and carried the company (read: empire) that Jobs built. It worked for a while, as the company raked in record revenue and the stock made all-time highs, but eventually Cook was left on his own. The Steve Jobs coattails were gone.

He had Jobs' recruits (iPod, iPhone, iPad) and was able to have some successful runs. But now it's his turn. Now he needs his recruits (future products) to perform as good -- or better than -- Jobs' recruits did. Otherwise, he'll be fired just like the quick-success-turned-failure college football coach.

Can he do it? Well that all depends on the future pipeline. He aggravated shareholders to the point where David Einhorn, fund manager for Greenlight Capital, actually tried to take Cook & Co. to court The Link to unlock some of the $140 billion dollars Apple had on its balance sheet.

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