Steve Appleton, CEO of Micron Technology
The memory-chip magnate perished as the small aircraft he piloted crashed between two runways at the Boise, Idaho, airport. According to airport officials, it was a single-engine Lancair plane -- the kind you can buy as a kit and build yourself. Local news station KTVB recounts an air traffic control conversation where Appleton felt something was wrong and requested an emergency landing. He was the only person on board.
Shares of Micron were halted at 1:33PM Eastern, well before news reports of the crash were published. I expect share prices to plunge when trading resumes, as Appleton's risk-seeking drive has been a large part of Micron's success.
Steve Appleton had always been a daredevil, in business and in life. His hobbies included off-road car racing, skydiving, and even flying fighter jets. "I don't know what could be worse than being in the memory business for risk-taking," he once said. "If we were in some stable, monopolistic business, I'd probably get objections from my executive staff about [risking my life on personal hobbies], but they're all dying to go."
Now Micron must figure out how to operate without its visionary leader, and we investors have to consider if the company is worth owning without him. Answers will not be easy to come by, but we always knew that this day might come.
Rest in peace, Steve.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Micron but holds no other position in any of the companies mentioned. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. We have a disclosure policy.