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TheStreet Open House

Ties May Bind Apple's CEO to Board

According to the Mercury News report, when Jobs approached Campbell about joining Apple's board, Campbell told him, ''If you're in, I'll be in.''

Such personal ties are important to consider, say corporate governance experts.

"Somebody that says he's the CEO's best friend is much more beholden to the CEO than someone who makes $70,000 on a consulting contract, in all likelihood," says Beth Young, a senior research associate at the Corporate Library, a business watchdog and research group.

York had no clear ties to Apple or Jobs when he joined the company's board. But in 1999, he bought and became chairman of Micro Warehouse, a mail-order and online retailer of tech products.

At the time that York purchased the company, sales of hardware and software for Apple's Macintosh accounted for 34% of the company's revenue, while Apple directly accounted for 11%, according to Micro Warehouse's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

At least under new marketplace rules, such a material relationship between a director and the company whose board that director serves on would preclude the director from being considered independent.

But those four board members, including Jobs, aren't the only ones of questionable independence. Millard Drexler, who was CEO of Gap (GPS) at the time, joined Apple's board in 1999. Jobs joined Gap's board the same year.

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