Apple CEO Tim Cook is prepping his successors; here’s who they could be

“Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook has already begun grooming people who could replace him at the tech giant,” Annie Palmer writes for TheStreet. “‘I see my role as CEO to prepare as many people as I can to be CEO, and that’s what I’m doing,’ Cook said in an interview with BuzzFeed. ‘And then the board makes a decision at that point in time.'”

“Cook was joined by Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s head of retail. Rumors have swirled that Ahrendts is being lined up to serve as Cook’s successor, but she flat out denied that speculation, calling any talk ‘fake news’ and ‘silly,'” Palmer writes. “It’s unlikely that Cook, 56, is planning to retire from the company any time soon, but people still like to guess who would succeed him if he did.”

“Though Ahrendts shut down any rumors of her being fit for the CEO role, her impressive past would lend her some of the experience necessary. Ahrendts most recently served as CEO of Burberry, where she was credited for reviving the struggling fashion brand,” Palmer writes. “Not long after hiring Ahrendts, Cook described her success at the company as ‘off the charts.’ ‘I knew she was going to be off the charts, but she’s even more off the charts than I thought,’ Cook said in a 2015 interview with Fortune. ‘She came in so fast, there was no [learning] curve. I’ve never met a single individual like that before.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Palmer also bandies about the names Jony Ive, Phil Schiller, and (believe it or not) Eddy Cue.

God help us all if Apple’s BoD ever chooses the latter.

Ive doesn’t want it or he’d have it already. He already has the most power at Apple. He’s smart to let the CEO take the slings and arrows.

If Apple’s next CEO comes from inside the company, it’s likely to be someone other than these names. Ahrendts is the most capable, but she’s a year older than Cook, so she’ll be retiring around the time he does, barring any health issues or unforeseen catastrophe. The others are around the same age, too. (Ive is 50, Schiller is 57, and Cue is 52.)

Angela Ahrendts is Cook’s best hire to date. Plus, if he, God forbid, ever got hit by a bus, she could slide right into the CEO position. Of that, we have no doubt. Ahrendts’ track record is stellar. Having two world-class CEOs in the executive suite should give Apple shareholders a strong sense of security. Just as Jobs had Cook, Cook has Ahrendts.MacDailyNews, September 10, 2015

SEE ALSO:
Steve Jobs left design chief Jonathan Ive ‘more operational power’ than anyone else at Apple – October 21, 2011

40 Comments

  1. While I’m in no hurry to see Tim Cook replaced, it’s probably a good idea to think about his successor, though there is always that possibility that the next CEO will be from outside the country.

  2. Who can be CEO of Apple is a real conundrum.

    Ahrendts has no real tech experience.
    Burberry sold CLOTHES.

    She’s smart but has no clue how to lead a team to innovate TECH.
    How would she judge which direction Apple should go? One example: if her subordinates suggest 50 tech companies Apple could buy (Apple has actually bought several dozen tech companies over the last few years) which ones would she give the green light? How would she evaluate any new tech idea?

    From Apple’s small SVP pool there’s not much choice, I think I would have Federighi lead Apple, he seems the most committed to Apple among the top candidates. Ive is a genius but besides no interest in background CEO stuff like tax, politics, sales expansion etc. nowadays it seems he’s wandered off to do pet projects like Coffee Table books, furniture, Christmas trees, Architecture etc. neglecting all kinds of things. (look at the Apple TV remote and no update 2013 Mac Pro and the Mac Mini etc).

    Federighi perhaps could have Ahrendts as COO (chief Operations Officer, Tim Cooks original position with Steve Jobs) to run sales, expansion, the legal stuff etc. leaving Federighi with product direction.

    It should NOT be the REVERSE where the sales person is on top and the product guy her subordinate, not for Apple. (I’m a marketing person myself but I think Apple needs a tech guy).

    Federighi spoke up for the Mac Pro (although as software guy he wasn’t responsible for the MP’s problems which was hardware) and Cook Gave Siri to him from Cue.

    Jeff Williams is COO of Apple now, we don’t hear much about him, could he qualify as CEO ? (I don’t know). He’s manages Apple Watch development , did work on iPhone and was from IBM.

    or the Board could get an outsider like Elon Musk … (but I worry Musk will use Apple’s billions on his Mars project.. )

    1. Agree with everything you wrote up until Elon. Elon is the anti-Steve. He’s got way too many projects going on, when Steve was all about focus. He never delivers on-time. Steve would have ripped him a new one. Steve thought moonshots were a waste and got rid of them. Other than building an electric car that Steve would probably have bought to replace his Merc, there’s nothing about Elon that should make you think of Steve.

      1. Agreed. Jobs was legitimately visionary, Musk is just delusional and arrogant. He shouldn’t be put in charge of a bake sale. There will never be another Steve, that’s just how it is. Promoting from within is really the only thing that makes sense.

    2. “Jeff Williams is COO of Apple now, we don’t hear much about him, could he qualify as CEO ?”

      He will be the next CEO if he is still around when Tim retires and becomes the POTUS. Operations is the key to Apple and the CEO has to understand what the COO needs to do.

  3. For better or worse, retire Mr. Cooks. Apple is slowly dwindling into a chronically unprepared, uninspired company that puts entirely too much focus into politics. Personally I’d rather see Mr. Cue destroy the brand all at once rather than this trickle.

    On the other hand a strict refocus on quality over quantity and speed would be a welcomed addition.

    Fire away…

  4. Please provide one accomplishment that makes Angela Ahrendts suited to lead the worlds largest tech company. Even suggesting her is an indication of how low the expectations are. Is there any evidence she has what is needed to give Apple a real corporate structure such that Apple starts now to keep all products current instead of letting some languish for half a decade without an update or drop off the face of the planet, like the MacPro. Does she have the tech and market understanding to choose where Apple invests in R&D. I don’t think so.

    1. How Angela Ahrendts rescued Burberry – June 2013

      What she has done, in the past seven years, is turn Burberry from a label that had become associated with baseball caps worn in nightclubs to the biggest British high-fashion brand, which ranks alongside anything the ateliers of Paris and Milan have to offer.

      Bringing the brand back from the brink was a hard, expensive slog involving buying back 23 licences Burberry had sold to allow other firms to put its check on everything, including disposable nappies for dogs.

      “I feel like I spent my first few years here buying back the company – not the most pleasant or creative task,” she says. “But we had to do it. If you can’t control everything, you can’t control anything, not really.”

      Annual sales have more than doubled since 2007 to £1.9bn, and the share price has doubled since she took over in 2006 to £13.70. Ahrendts, who starts work checking her emails and social media before 5am most days, has benefited to the tune of £23.7m in pay, bonuses and perks over the last two years.

      The day after Ahrendts’s massive 2012 pay deal was reported by the Guardian last week a Burberry executive emailed all staff seeking to quell any resentment by explaining that most of the money was from previously awarded bonuses.

      “There’s no resentment. Everyone knows it’s an insane amount, but everyone thinks she’s totally worth the money,” a Burberry executive said. “Everyone loves her.”

      theguardian.com/business/2013/jun/16/angela-ahrendts-burberry-chav-image

      1. “I have my own theory about why the decline happens at companies like IBM or Microsoft. The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The product starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So the salespeople end up running the company.” steve somebody

  5. If made CEO one of Eddie Cue’s first acts no doubt would be to institute a new Apple Happy Hour that would run 9-5pm (and then 5-10pm). To become “the world’s most inebriated billions-to-million dollar company!”

  6. Scott Forstall. Always said he would make a great “Steve” replacement. And let’s face it he was fired as Scape goat. And the irony that a another cast out of Apple comes back to lead to greatness again would be so fitting.

    1. Certainly, hands down Scott would be the absolute BEST choice on plane to Earth!

      Considering the kernuffle between him, Jony and Tim on the flat iOS7, believe it is safe to say Tim will NEVER do the right thing and recommend Scott.

      So, it all falls to the board to grow a pair and do what’s best for Apple …

  7. “her impressive past” and less impressive present.

    Ahrendts will never be CEO, she’s a salesperson, and we know what Steve thought about companies where the salesperson becomes CEO.

    The clear frontrunners are Federighi and Williams.

  8. Sr Paul Jonny Ive is burnt except for roaming around accepting awards. Angela is older than Tim, everyone agrees she is a fashion person, not a technology visionary by any stretch of the imagination. They will have to go outside the company, and there’s only one name that counts and he is busy. You need the genius/asshole combination.

    Apple exists on one product right now, and has since Tim took over and that’s the iPhone. The Mac has been utterly neglected. The iPad has barely been treading water, and his fetish with heading up an entertainment company will prove to be Apple’s biggest waste of money ever.

  9. My vote is for Angela. Hopefully her first order of business is to fire Eddy Cue – or encourage his retirement.

    But if she’s not the heir apparent, I’m hoping she’s helping Tim choose one. Maybe one with a little more personality than Tim. And one who won’t allow as much shoddy software updates.

    But I agree that Ive doesn’t want it.

  10. Fake news clickbait garbage reporting. I watched the interview in question: “I see my role as CEO to prepare as many people as I can to be CEO, and that’s what I’m doin”, so then we should infer that Cook was “grooming people who could replace him” as soon as he took over? What TC said is totally NORMAL for ANY halfway competent CEO. You mentor those around you, not just because they might succeed you but because you want the best possible leadership team in your organization. Some no-name “reporter” from frickin Buzz-Feed of all places, throws out a question from left field and TC’s reasonable response turns into wild speculation about him being replaced. Bullshit!

  11. “I have my own theory about why the decline happens at companies like IBM or Microsoft. The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The product starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So the salespeople end up running the company.”

    Ahrendts?! AYFKM?!?!

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