When Michael Jordan retired, there was proper respect and genuflection, and then the inevitable: Who's next? Kobe? Grant Hill? Eventually, LeBron? It still goes on.
We expect something similar for Steve Jobs. We even have a pick (see a bit lower). After all, even with all the deserved respect and thoughtful tributes to what Jobs accomplished for Apple and the tech industry as a whole, we here in Silicon Valley are known for looking ahead. What's next, and who will lead us to it?
As for candidates for the next Steve Jobs, let's start young. Mark Zuckerberg? An obvious choice, because he's clearly ahead of his time, pushing through decisions that, after initial skepticism, prove to be spot-on. Speaking of Facebook, how about COO Sheryl Sandberg? Not as young as Mark, but ahead of her time in the tech world, with a strong feeling that education is what's needed for a better tech industry (remember, Apple used to push that pretty hard, too).
I'm about to go talk with Aaron Levie, the young CEO and co-founder of Box.net. His is a company focusing on cloud storage - not as consumer sexy as Apple, but crucial to the future of tech. He has written several posts recently pretty much saying that he does what he does because he watched Steve Jobs do it. Touching and thoughtful, from someone who will surely be part of the next big tech wave.
In the interest of keeping this short (and feel free to let me know if you have ideas of your own), I'll just add one more: I was reminded of someone else we've spoken to a lot lately, when I read a tweet that said, "Apple needs to buy Square and make Jack Dorsey the new CEO." Ha, ha, that's a good one. But wait a minute. Two companies at once, both changing the game. Add in a focus on the future and -- remember Apple's early days? - a keen fashion sense, and the similarities are almost eerie.
If we have to crown a "next" Steve Jobs, why not end the game with a Square, and tweet? Jack Dorsey, the pressure's on. It's no fun being the "next" MJ, or in this case SJ, but the tech world is looking for a new icon.
Have more ideas? Let Scott know. He’s on Twitter: @scottbudman