Demanding and unemotional COO Tim Cook Apple’s someday heir apparent?

“There is only one Steve Jobs, one table-pounding visionary who can refashion whole industries with a wave of his hand. The mere hint of a Jobs health scare knocks billions of dollars off Apple’s market value,” Adam Lashinsky reports for Fortune. “(Temporary hit from a false web post in early October about a Jobs heart attack: $10 billion.)”

“The most influential promoter of Steve Jobs’ indispensability, of course, is Steve Jobs. But another person who is very much with that program is the one executive who has actually filled in for Jobs as CEO. That would be Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer and its interim chief executive for two months in 2004, when Jobs was recovering from cancer surgery,” Lashinsky reports. “‘Come on, replace Steve? No. He’s irreplaceable,’ Cook said recently, according to a person who knows him well. ‘That’s something people have to get over. I see Steve there with gray hair in his 70s, long after I’m retired.'”

“Cook may be right; we simply don’t know the status of Jobs’ health. Yet succession plans at giant corporations typically aren’t built on hope. Apple’s plan to replace the 53-year-old CEO is known for sure only to Jobs and the company’s seven other board members,” Lashinsky reports.

“Tim Cook arrived at Apple in 1998 from Compaq Computer. He was a 16-year computer-industry veteran – he’d worked for IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) for 12 of those years – with a mandate to clean up the atrocious state of Apple’s manufacturing, distribution, and supply apparatus. One day back then, he convened a meeting with his team, and the discussion turned to a particular problem in Asia,” Lashinsky reports. “‘This is really bad,’ Cook told the group. ‘Someone should be in China driving this.’ Thirty minutes into that meeting Cook looked at Sabih Khan, a key operations executive, and abruptly asked, without a trace of emotion, ‘Why are you still here?'”

Lashinsky reports, “Khan, who remains one of Cook’s top lieutenants to this day, immediately stood up, drove to San Francisco International Airport, and, without a change of clothes, booked a flight to China with no return date, according to people familiar with the episode. The story is vintage Cook: demanding and unemotional.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Dale” and “Teddy” for the heads up.]


  1. That is how Apple has recovered from the 90’s dismal business that it was. 1) Strong top leadership with vision, authority, and exicution. 2) Willing middle management to get the job done, right.

    Without these two factors, Apple would be done…just like Dell.

  2. Fine, Cook’s great as a COO. Let’s keep him doing what he does best.

    Ive is great as a designer. Let keep him doing what he does best.

    Now, who should follow Steve? I vote for Serlet or Kawasaki. Serlet, is head of software, and came with Steve from Next. He knows the glue that makes it all work is OS X. He’s funny, and can fire up the troops. Kawasaki is a great spokesman for all things Apple. He’d be great too.

  3. I agree with KenC. keep those doing what they do best. But the basis of all apple is based around the software. and Serlet knows it from the ground up and what branches can grow from it. You can teach someone to be funny and a good stage presence but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, thats where you need someone like Serlet, who knows the software so damn good that he knows where the hockey puck is going to be. plus he’ll only get 80% if that of what steve makes, and the rest of steve’s salary will be split amongst the rest of front runners to keep them happy.

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