SEATTLE - Apple Inc. co-founder and Chief Executive Steve Jobs said yesterday he is taking a medical leave until the end of June - just a week after the cancer survivor tried to assure investors and employees his recent weight loss was caused by an easily treatable hormone deficiency.
Mr. Jobs, 53, said in a letter last week that he would remain at Apple's helm despite the hormone problem, and that he already had begun a "relatively simple and straightforward" treatment. But in an e-mail to employees yesterday, Mr. Jobs backtracked.
"During the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought," he wrote.
Apple's shares have surged and crashed over the last year in step with rumors or news about the CEO's health and his gaunt appearance.
Although the top executive's health is an issue for investors in any company, at Apple the level of concern reaches fever pitch because Mr. Jobs has a hand in everything from ideas for new products to the way they're marketed.
Investors fear that without Mr. Jobs, Apple will not be able to sustain its growth of the last decade.
Apple's chief operating officer, Tim Cook, will take over Mr. Jobs' responsibilities. Mr. Cook is seen as one of Mr. Jobs' most likely successors, along with Apple's top marketing executive, Philip Schiller.