Now that its iconic founder is truly gone, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) must figure out how to remain true to the legacy of Steve Jobs without getting hamstrung by it.
It's not as easy as you might think.
The challenge starts with finding a successor CEO who can carry on the legacy of a founder like Steve Jobs without being intimidated by it.
"Much like Disney, Apple's founder was the brand. He was their Mickey Mouse, he was their Betty Crocker," corporate governance expert Nell Minow of GovernanceMetrics International told Reuters. "They have to replace him in five different ways."
That Jobs himself groomed former Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook to follow him as chief executive reduces Apple's risk, but doesn't erase it.
Companies such as The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) have learned that staying faithful to the ideals of a legendary founder can be fraught with pitfalls. Rigid adherence to old ideas can lead to stagnation, but straying too far from them can undermine what made the company such a huge success.