Tim Cook, Apple CEO? Seriously?

Apple Chief Operating Officer, Tim Cook, is really good at the really boring part of the Apple business. The default choice as Steve’s successor prefers to stand in the long shadow cast by his CEO rather than the spotlight. On his desk, next to a photograph of Bob Dylan is one of Bobby Kennedy. Tim admires the way the late senator "was comfortable standing in his brother's shadow and doing what he thought was right." 

Modesty is in his blood. Tim grew up in a small town "on the road to the beach," in the Heart of Dixie, Alabama.  The son of a shipyard worker is a long-time bachelor who enjoys a life so private that Jony Ive would turn green with envy. Inevitably, there are rumours that Tim is the most powerful gay man in Silicon Valley. If Tim were gay, it makes little sense that he would remain in the closet. An openly gay member of Apple’s top brass would only reinforce Apple’s painfully brand-conscious gay following.

Tim spent twelve years succeeding at IBM while Steve was failing NeXT.  Steve hired him during Apple’s rebirth. He cut inventory costs by halving the number of Apple warehouses. Tim said to Business Week, ''If you have closets, you'll fill them up.” [1] (Closets? Freud was right). Apple’s Ops guy is a hard worker and a boring speaker. Tim spaces his words out so painfully long that his audience is falling asleep before he gets to the point – if he has one. Listening to Tim speak about his work at Apple sounds no more exciting than working at a Hyundai factory. He is five years younger than Steve, looks five years older than Steve, and sounds ten years older than Steve. Worst of all, Tim lacks a signature outfit. The only regularity in his attire is the Nike sneakers he has to wear because he is on its Board of Directors. Suffice to say, Tim’s no rock star. Fortune Magazine profiled him:

Though he's capable of mirth, Cook's default facial expression is a frown, and his humor is of the dry variety. In meetings he's known for long, uncomfortable pauses, when all you hear is the sound of his tearing the wrapper of the energy bars he constantly eats.[2]

On January 17th, 2011, Steve emailed his employees: 


At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company. 

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011. 

I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy. 


If Tim is the best that Apple can come up with as a successor, then the company and Steve share the same mortal coil. Steve’s ultimate loss of control will arrive on his passing.

[1] [1] Burrows, P. (2000, July 31) Apple: Yes, Steve, you fixed it. Congrats! Now what's Act Two? Business Week.

[2] Lashinsky, A. (2008, November 10) The genius behind Steve. Fortune Magazine.

[3] Dowling, S (2011, January 17) Apple Media Advisory. Apple.com. Retrieved from:  http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/01/17advisory.html


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