#tim cook

Yukari Iwatani Kane on Apple under Tim Cook:

Apple under Jobs was a roller coaster, but Cook’s operations fief was orderly and disciplined. Cook knew every detail in every step of the operations processes. Weekly operations meetings could last five to six hours as he ground through every single item. His subordinates soon learned to plan for meetings with him as if they were cramming for an exam. Even a small miss of a couple of hundred units was examined closely. “Your numbers,” one planner recalled him saying flatly, “make me want to jump out that window over there.”

Cook had made a particular point of tackling Apple’s monstrous inventory, which he considered fundamentally evil. He called himself the “Attila the Hun of inventory.”

Meetings with Cook could be terrifying. He exuded a Zenlike calm and didn’t waste words. “Talk about your numbers. Put your spreadsheet up,” he’d say as he nursed a Mountain Dew. (Some staffers wondered why he wasn’t bouncing off the walls from the caffeine.) When Cook turned the spotlight on someone, he hammered them with questions until he was satisfied. “Why is that?” “What do you mean?” “I don’t understand. Why are you not making it clear?” He was known to ask the same exact question 10 times in a row.

No one questions that Tim Cook’s leadership is vastly different from that of Steve Jobs. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s any easier to work for. This paints him as demanding, but in different ways.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, talking to Daisuke Wakabayashi:

Last year, we grew (revenue) by $14 billion to $15 billion. Yes, those percentages are smaller compared to a year earlier and two years earlier and so forth. But that doesn’t mean that you’re not a growth company. We were in hyper-growth, or whatever is above growth. We went from $65 billion to over $100 billion to $150 billion to $170 billion. These are historic, unprecedented numbers. I don’t know any companies adding growth at that level. So when you say $14 billion to $15 billion compared to those numbers, it’s clearly smaller and a smaller percentage, but, to put it in some context, that’s like adding three Fortune 500 companies in a year. I think that’s hard to say that’s not a growth company.

This is another way to articulate the Law of Large Numbers issue that Apple faces. And it’s certainly hard to argue with.

Tim Cook:

We urge senators to support the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, and we challenge the House of Representatives to bring it to the floor for a vote.

Protections that promote equality and diversity should not be conditional on someone’s sexual orientation. For too long, too many people have had to hide that part of their identity in the workplace.

Those who have suffered discrimination have paid the greatest price for this lack of legal protection. But ultimately we all pay a price. If our coworkers cannot be themselves in the workplace, they certainly cannot be their best selves. When that happens, we undermine people’s potential and deny ourselves and our society the full benefits of those individuals’ talents.

How on Earth could you argue with this?

Henry Blodget:

If Apple continues to focus on products and customers, in other words, Apple’s stock price will take care of itself. But I know that is not what you are hearing these days from another Apple shareholder, Carl Icahn. Mr. Icahn, who just bought your stock last month — and owns only a fraction of one percent of the company — is demanding that you immediately engage in a massive financial engineering scheme to boost your stock price and give him and other short-term traders a quick payoff.

I definitely don’t agree with all of this, but it’s mainly level-headed thinking against some of Icahn’s ridiculous ideas. (Which Apple undoubtedly knows are ridiculous too, of course.)

Joshua Brustein:

The biggest prize for Nike may have come last week, when Apple (AAPL) said its new iPhone would have sensors allowing people to use their phones to keep track of their Fuel points. Apple’s oft-predicted, never-confirmed smartwatch would presumably be a major threat to the FuelBand, but the two companies seem pretty cozy right now. Nike said on Tuesday that it still has no plans to make a Nike+ app for Android, and Olander indicated there are too many devices on the Android operating system to offer a consistent user experience. (He didn’t mention anything about Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s presence on Nike’s board.)

Maybe this is naiveté, but given all the signals between the two companies recently (number one being that Tim Cook is still on Nike’s board), I’m starting to be more sure that any wearable Apple does will be in cooperation with Nike, not opposed to them. 

John Gruber:

Leave aside for now the fact that Tim Cook has been CEO for only two years and that Vogelstein himself acknowledges that under Jobs, the revolutionary products came “every three to five years”. The stuff about the stock price is just nonsense — Apple’s stock price routinely fell after products announcements by Steve Jobs. For all the lip service paid to “innovation”, Wall Street tends to be conservative, rewarding the conventional and punishing the unconventional.

You can actually check these things. Stock prices and the dates of Steve Jobs’s product announcements are matters of fact…

It’s a deep burn.

Harry McCracken:

Me, I’ve always thought that it will be impossible to fully judge the Cook era until Apple does enter a wholly new product category. It’s going to do so at some point, and it’s possible that it’ll either go spectacularly well or be a fiasco. Or it might fall somewhere in between, as some of Jobs’ products did. (Exhibit A: The “hobby” known as Apple TV.) But Cook has plenty of wiggle room left before he falls substantially behind Jobs’ pace. I figure he has at least until the end of 2014 or so before there’s reason to join the worry-wart chorus.

Fully agree. As I wrote in October 2011, shortly after Jobs’ passing:

But the truth is that Apple will not likely face their first true post-Jobs test until they release their first truly new product. That execution will shed light on Apple’s future.

That it still hasn’t happened yet is surprising to many, but as McCracken argues, it shouldn’t be. These things take time — even if you’re Steve Jobs.

Steve Cheney:

Despite today’s trend to vertical integration, Apple stands alone in its ability to integrate at the system level. The truth is silicon is the alchemy which causes consumers to marvel when they hold or touch an iPhone.

This fact is not lost on Tim Cook, who at the operations level understands silicon better than nearly any business leader. 

Tim Cook has been taking a lot of heat in recent months both for Apple’s stock price (despite the fact that it ran up to all-time highs under him as well) and for Apple’s perceived inability to innovate (which is foolish given the time scale we’re talking about). Yet something that’s never talked about is Cook’s actual strengths. Before becoming CEO (and perhaps while serving as interim CEO), Cook was widely considered to be the best hardware operations guy in the business.

Apple’s current margins and efficiency are a direct result of Cook. And it certainly seems like the pieces put in place for Apple to control its silicon future are a result of Cook’s operations management as well. We’re now fully seeing the fruits of that labor.

I mean, they complete each other’s sentences because they really like each other!

Tim Cook, on the relationship between Jony Ive and Craig Federighi, from the transcript of his full interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

That seems to answer a question I posed previously.

And Cook continued:

And it’s just not “like” in the friendship sense, but there’s an enormous respect and trust, and that’s sort of at the base of what makes this place operate. We don’t have tons of people, and so we can’t double- and triple-check things. We trust each other and respect each other, and everybody pushes everybody else, and that sort of combination of the collaboration and the friction and getting that the right mix produces products like this.

Jony & Craig

While it’s hardly surprising that Apple would make a PR push leading up to the launch of the new iPhones tomorrow, it’s somewhat surprising that Apple decided to go with USA Today as well as Bloomberg Businessweek.

USA Today is behind both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal in print circulation and likely far behind in web traffic. More importantly, it’s without question far behind in terms of tech-oriented reader mindshare. But perhaps they’re trying to appeal to a more mainstream audience.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg Businessweek is ranked 82nd in terms of magazine circulation in the U.S., behind publications such as Boys’ Life. To be fair, with Newsweek no longer in the picture, it’s hard to come up with another publication that would suit Apple — though Time, with over 3x the circulation, comes to mind.

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