John Paczkowski

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Apple Names Levinson Chairman of the Board; Disney’s Iger Tapped as Director

Arthur Levinson and Bob Iger

The uncertainty that has surrounded Apple’s board of directors since the death of co-founder Steve Jobs lifted Tuesday afternoon when the company tapped long-time director Art Levinson as non-executive chairman of the board, succeeding Jobs, who passed away last month after a long battle with cancer.

“Art has made enormous contributions to Apple since he joined the board in 2000,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “He has been our longest serving co-lead director, and his insight and leadership are incredibly valuable to Apple, our employees and our shareholders.”

Also named to the board today, Disney CEO Bob Iger, who famously helped Jobs orchestrate the merger of Pixar and Disney.

Interesting appointments, both of them. One could argue that in Levinson, Apple now has a truly independent chairman — someone from outside the company. The big caveat there is that he’s served on Apple’s board for more than a decade, has been a co-lead director since 2005 and was a very close friend of Jobs. So, really, he’s far more insider than outsider. That said, he may be a bit more apt to stir the pot than an Apple executive.

Then there’s Iger. Naming him to the board seems strategically a wise move, keeping Disney, a longtime content partner, close and reinforcing the perception of strong ties between the two companies. Recall that Disney was the first to sign on to Apple’s iTunes video deal and has generally been supportive of Apple content initiatives in the past. Importantly, having him on the board may help give Apple an advantage in negotiating content deals in the post-Jobs era.

In addition to Iger and Levinson, Apple’s board of directors includes former Vice President Al Gore, Avon CEO Andrea Jung, Apple CEO Cook, Intuit Chairman Bill Campbell, J. Crew CEO Millard S. Drexler and Ron Sugar, former chairman and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corporation.

Here’s the full release:

Apple Names Arthur D. Levinson Chairman of the Board

Robert A. Iger, President & Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, Joins Apple’s Board

CUPERTINO, Calif., Nov 15, 2011 — Apple today named Arthur D. Levinson, Ph. D. as the Company’s non-executive Chairman of the Board. Levinson has been a co-lead director of Apple’s board since 2005, has served on all three board committees–audit and finance, nominating and corporate governance, and compensation–and will continue to serve on the audit committee. Apple also announced that Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, will join Apple’s board and will serve on the audit committee.

“Art has made enormous contributions to Apple since he joined the board in 2000,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “He has been our longest serving co-lead director, and his insight and leadership are incredibly valuable to Apple, our employees and our shareholders.”

“Bob and I have gotten to know one another very well over the past few years and on behalf of the entire board, we think he is going to make an extraordinary addition to our already very strong board,” said Tim Cook. “His strategic vision for Disney is based on three fundamentals: generating the best creative content possible, fostering innovation and utilizing the latest technology, and expanding into new markets around the world which makes him a great fit for Apple.”

“I am honored to be named chairman of Apple’s board and welcome Bob to our team,” said Art Levinson. “Apple is always focused on out-innovating itself through the delivery of truly innovative products that simplify and improve our lives, and that is something I am very proud to be a part of.”

“Apple has achieved unprecedented success by consistently creating high quality, truly innovative products, and I am extremely pleased to join the board of such a wonderful company,” said Bob Iger. “Over the years, I have come to know and admire the management team, now ably led by Tim Cook, and I am confident they have the leadership and vision to ensure Apple’s continued momentum and success.”

Levinson is chairman of Genentech, Inc. and a member of the Roche Board of Directors. He joined Genentech as a research scientist in 1980, and served as Genentech’s Chief Executive Officer from 1995 to 2009. He is also a director of Amyris, NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Levinson currently serves on the Board of Scientific Consultants of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Advisory Council for the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. He has authored or co-authored more than 80 scientific articles and has been a named inventor on 11 United States patents. In 2008, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Levinson received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Washington and earned a doctorate in Biochemical Sciences from Princeton University.

Iger is the steward of the world’s largest media company and some of the most respected and beloved brands around the globe. He has built on Disney’s rich history of unforgettable storytelling, with the acquisition of Pixar (2006) and Marvel (2009), two of the entertainment industry’s greatest storytellers. Always one to embrace new technology, Iger has made Disney an industry leader at the forefront of offering its creative content across new and multiple platforms. He is a member of the board of directors for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. He became a board member of the US-China Business Council in June 2011. In June 2010, President Barack Obama appointed him to the President’s Export Council, which advises the president on how to promote US exports, jobs and growth. He is also a member of the Partnership for a New American Economy, a coalition of mayors and business leaders from across the United States that support comprehensive immigration reform. Iger is a graduate of Ithaca College.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

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