Tim Cook: Leading Apple After Steve Jobs

Photo - Tim Cook: Leading Apple After Steve Jobs
Tim Cook has been the CEO of Apple since 2011. Under his leadership, the company has launched new product categories, including Apple Watch, AirPods, and Apple Vision Pro. Tim Cook has made Apple a $3 trillion company through strategic decisions.

Tim Cook’s Roots, First Jobs, and Education   

Tim Cook was born on November 1, 1960, in Alabama, US. He is the middle of three sons born in the family. Cook grew up in a small town called Robertsdale. His father, Don Cook, was a shipyard worker, and his mother, Geraldine worked at a pharmacy.

According to an article by the Alabama Local News website, Tim and his brothers worked part-time jobs when they were old enough to take some responsibility. Tim Cook's first job was delivering newspapers. Later, he worked at a restaurant and a pharmacy with his mother.

  As a schoolboy, Tim Cook played trombone in a band and served on the yearbook staff. Teachers and classmates describe him as friendly, diligent, and reliable. Upon leaving high school, Cook continued his education at Auburn University, where he studied industrial engineering. In 1982, Cook received a bachelor’s degree. He went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, graduating in 1988.   

How Tim Cook Joined Apple   

Tim Cook joined Apple in 1998 when he was 37. By then, he had already been successful in his career and was serving as vice president of Corporate Materials at the computer manufacturer Compaq. Prior to that, he worked at IBM for 12 years.  

Initially, Tim Cook wasn’t considering joining Apple and even turned down job offers when the company's recruiters reached out to him.  

That was until he was suggested to meet Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs. Tim Cook agreed to the meeting which changed his mind. Later, he said that he was intrigued by Steve Jobs' strategy and vision because it was completely different. When they talked, Steve Jobs described an upcoming product, the iMac G3. 

Eventually, Tim Cook decided to join Apple, despite the company not doing well financially at the time. Tim Cook took on the role of Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations at the company and in 2002, he was promoted to Executive Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Operations. In 2005, he was named Chief Operating Officer (COO), as reported by Apple Newsroom.  
Tim Cook, Steve Jobs, and Phil Schiller in 2007. Source: Apple Insider

Tim Cook, Steve Jobs, and Phil Schiller in 2007. Source: Apple Insider

In August 2011, Steve Jobs wrote a letter of resignation, in which he said:  

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come. I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee. As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
In August 2011, Steve Jobs wrote a letter of resignation, in which he said:
The board approved Steve Jobs’ letter. He remained involved in an advisory role, and Tim Cook was appointed as the new CEO. Six weeks later, Jobs passed away following a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 56.  

Tim Cook as Apple CEO  

Jobs was known for creating revolutionary products centered on customer experience. After he passed away, there were concerns that Apple wouldn’t introduce new successful product categories anymore.

Steve was a genius and a visionary. … He’s an irreplaceable person. Steve was an original, and I don’t think there is another one of those being made. I’ve never felt the weight of trying to be Steve. It’s not who I am, and it’s not my goal in life.
Stepping into the role of CEO, Tim Cook faced a big challenge: ensure that Apple continues to innovate and remains competitive. In his first big interview as CEO at the 2012 All Things Digital Conference, Cook talked about his views on Apple's future. When asked how he sees his role at Apple after Steve Jobs, he answered:
Next, Tim Cook mentioned that Apple had incredible new product categories to introduce, without specifying details. The promised product, which arrived in 2014, was the Apple Watch. Tim Cook announced Apple’s smartwatch in September at the Worldwide Developers Conference. During the presentation, he said Apple believed the product would redefine expectations in its category. The Apple Watch introduced integration with the iPhone, advanced health and fitness features, and a sleek aesthetic design. It was released to the market in April 2015 and gradually became a popular product among users.
Tim Cook reveals the Apple Watch in 2014. Source: Bloomberg.com

Tim Cook reveals the Apple Watch in 2014. Source: Bloomberg.com

Wearables have been a part of Apple’s business since the Apple Watch. In 2016,  wireless headphones, called AirPods were introduced. Apple’s products and services were in demand and the company had strong sales. In 2018, its share price increased to around $207 and Apple became the first publicly traded company to achieve a $1 trillion valuation. The corporation reportedly made more than $53 billion in revenue in one quarter. iPhone X, wearable devices, and the services business, which includes Apple Pay, and Apple Music turned out to be profitable.

Apple kept launching new generations of its products and expanding its services. Since 2019, it has been offering Apple News + and Apple TV+, among other services. In June 2023, Tim Cook presented the Apple Vision Pro, a VR headset, which became the first major product release after the Apple Watch and AirPods. The Apple CEO said the Vision Pro could change how we live and work. While wearing the device, people can create digital spaces and interact with others in an immersive environment. In July 2023, Apple’s market valuation crossed $3 trillion, making it the first company to ever hit that mark.

August 24, 2024, will mark Tim Cook’s 13th year as CEO. Currently, the company is taking steps to bring generative AI functionalities to its devices. In June, during the WWDC event, Tim Cook announced a partnership with OpenAI to integrate ChatGPT with the iOS 18 system, providing users assistance with texting, emails, voice messages, and more. AI features across Apple devices are expected to be available later this year. The partnership is a key part of Apple’s AI platform, called Apple Intelligence.
Tim Cook at WWDC 2024. Source: apple.com

Tim Cook at WWDC 2024. Source: apple.com

Tim Cook’s Financial Status 

Today, Apple is the third most valuable company with a market cap of over $3.2 trillion coming after NVIDIA and Microsoft. Tim Cook, himself is a billionaire. According to Forbes, his net worth in 2024 is around $2.2 billion making him 1623rd on the list. Tim Cook’s total compensation in 2023 was $63.2 million. During the economic slowdown in early 2023, the Apple CEO recommended a 40% pay cut to his own salary to address financial challenges in an unusual move for CEOs. The Apple Board agreed to the proposal and, as part of the changes, increased the percentage of performance-based unit stocks granted to Tim Cook from 50% to 75%.  

Tim Cook as an Advocate for Human Rights  

The Apple CEO stands for equality, diversity, and privacy rights. In 2014, he became the first CEO of a major company to come out as gay. In a Bloomberg story, Tim Cook, a private person, decided to speak of his sexual orientation to raise awareness about the rights of minorities.  

Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day.” he wrote. “It's made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It's been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, and to follow my own path
He added that if his disclosure helps someone struggling, it's worth the trade-off of his privacy.  

Tim Cook has used his personal and corporate platforms to promote racial justice, equality in education, and women’s rights through different initiatives. In 2020, he announced the Apple Racial Equity and Justice Initiative with a $100 M commitment focused on education, criminal justice, and economic equality.  

Talking about privacy, Tim Cook previously said that it is a fundamental human right and one of Apple’s core values. Addressing concerns about data collection risks from integrating ChatGPT with Apple devices, Tim Cook stated the company would implement this safely and securely through its private cloud computing.  

Tim Cook’s Daily Routine, Hobbies, and Interests  

The Apple CEO ​​starts his day early, waking up around 4 or 5 am. In an interview with pop star Dua Lipa, Tim Cook mentioned that the first thing he does is respond to emails from customers and employees. He says this helps him stay connected with the community, and he values their feedback. Then, Tim Cook works out for an hour at the gym doing strength training before heading to the office. At work, he spends time with different teams to exchange ideas, deal with issues at hand, and create future products. Cook said he loves being Apple’s CEO and feels privileged in his role. He added that he wants to help other people succeed as well.  
Outside Apple, Tim Cook likes spending time visiting National Parks and hiking. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Cook said hiking is one of his favorite ways to clear his mind.  

Who Will Succeed Tim Cook as CEO of Apple  

As 63-year-old Tim Cook nears retirement age, questions about his plans for running Apple occasionally arise in discussions. In the above-mentioned interview with Dua Lipa, the tech executive said that he doesn’t intend to leave Apple yet.  
I don't know how long I'll be there," Tim Cook mentioned "I love it there. I can't envision my life without being there, and so I'll be there for a while
Asked about a succession plan, he said Apple has developed a detailed strategy in case changes are needed. Tim Cook revealed that his job includes preparing several people for the position and he hopes the person comes from within Apple.  

Tim Cook’s Impact on Apple   

Steve Jobs chose Tim Cook to replace him as the leader of Apple, who since joining the company has made major contributions. Tim Cook has helped Apple not only remain competitive, but reach new record highs, by introducing new products, updates, and services. Now, he's leading Apple's development of AI tools, which is expected to be another test of the company's ability to innovate and maintain customer loyalty.

Web3 writer and crypto HODLer with a keen interest in market trends and recent technologies.