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Ties May Bind Apple's CEO to Board

A Question of Independence

To understand the question of the independence of Apple's directors, you have to go back to the palace coup Jobs orchestrated in August 1997, which essentially put him back in charge of the company he co-founded.

According to a contemporary report in The Wall Street Journal, Jobs, who had been acting as the head of the company after former CEO Gil Amelio's departure in July that year, told the former board that he wanted them to resign and appoint him, along with Ellison, Campbell and York, to the board.

Jobs essentially got his wish. Three of Apple's five board members resigned, and Jobs and his three picks were named to the board, giving them majority control.

Each of Jobs' handpicked board members either had or would soon have compelling ties to Apple or Jobs. Ellison, for instance, called Jobs his "best friend" at the time, and months before Jobs' takeover, he floated an idea of acquiring Apple along with his friend, according to contemporary reports and Michael Malone's book Infinite Loop.

Campbell, too, thought of Jobs as a "close personal friend," according to a contemporary report in the San Jose Mercury News. The two had a history of working together at Apple: Campbell joined the company in 1983, roughly two years before Jobs' ouster. He later headed up Claris, Apple's software spinoff that the company later brought back in house.

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