Apple increasingly focused on succession plan for post-Tim Cook future

Apple CEO Tim Cook and his deputies are increasingly focused on a succession plan as Cook enters his 10th year as Apple’s Chief Executive Officer.

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg News:

[Cook’s] management group is filled mostly with senior vice presidents who have worked at Apple for more than two decades, made tens of millions of dollars and are at or near the ages of 55 to 60 when many previous executives have stepped aside. That, along with typical corporate planning, has spurred the Cupertino, California-based company to cultivate its next class of top managers, said people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified talking about internal company discussions…

The next group of leaders will need to navigate rising global antitrust concerns, build stronger relationships with app developers, reduce the reliance on Chinese manufacturing and find devices or new services to carry the company beyond the iPhone.

The CEO has given no indication he’s ready to retire, but if the 59-year-old Cook moved on tomorrow, look no further than Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams, 57, to take over. Williams is seen as the heir apparent, having run the company’s global operations under Cook for the past several years.

MacDailyNews Take: Of course, if Cook were to retire at, say, 65, it would make little sense to have Williams take over at age 63.

In many ways, Williams is seen as pragmatic as Cook and as someone who wouldn’t let the company miss a beat. He is an operations-focused executive like Cook rather than a product visionary like Jobs or former design chief Jony Ive.

MacDailyNews Take: If Cook leaves at age 65 or later, Apple at that time would likely be better served by a charismatic visionary, however rare that may be (Apple would have the money to find him/her), than by another, let’s face it, boring operations guy/gal content with building upon Jobs-inspired core products. If Cook left this afternoon, we have no doubt that Jeff Williams would be a fine replacement for the next half decade or longer.

Regardless, Apple is smart to be working on a succession plan.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Benjamin Franklin


  1. Agreed on the ages. This is insane. I know Apple gets a bump for all the diversity shown at events but I’m seeing one senior white guy after another. Person taking over should be about 10 years younger than the the guy retiring methinks?

    1. Huh? Steve wasn’t Mr. Tech…as least of the ilk you describe.

      I’m always amused when reminded of his passion for calligraphy. He touted it as having a great impact on his own life and Apple. Fitting him into a box was/is almost an impossible task…he was full of powerful nuance, as well as extreme focus.

      Steve knew business, aesthetics/design, and had the focus to achieve goals that were MUCH bigger than a speed/feed (tech-head), or a digit on a spreadsheet (sales/accountant/marketing). At the same time, he was the ultimate sales/marketing person because he “sold” belief, intension & future. (It’s interesting to know that he greatly disliked sales people at Apple and thought they weren’t needed). Those that worked with and under him repeatedly said it was the hardest job they’ve ever had, but wouldn’t trade it for anything because he wrought from them things they could never imagine and never realized again.

      Younger…yes. Williams seems like a Cook mirror in re: to strength/skill and, more undesirably, age.

      There’s a 99.9% chance Apple will never be led by someone close to SJ’s caliber, imo.

      1. When Steve came along there was no personal computer industry, most of the companies were startup’s Apple, Atari, Commodore or small hole in the wall companies (in the back water) both in hardware and programing which meant that it was the wild west and you didn’t learn it (tech) in school they (the schools were way behind as usual).

        If you are currently a high school kid and know Swift, Metal, and Xcode at a high level and are really good at it you will get a job easy. (it’s the wild west still) companies need people that know it.

        In the field I’m in fire protection design if you know how to use Navis, AutoCad, and Revit you will get work in or right after high school easy (the company will teach you) and the same is true in Elect, Plumbing, and HVAC. Most schools (college/high school) aren’t teaching practical many fields aren’t on the schedule.

        Apple in the past was ran by a sugar salesmen and career IBM hack, it didn’t work out, whatever Apple does the next CEO has to come from within the company from the tech side.

        1. Like I said, looking for a “tech guy” as the answer isn’t necessarily golden. Using that credo, Apple would likely have never been, as Woz was the tech mind of the duo and all he wanted to do was putter in the garage and give stuff away.

          Steve had the vision to make something of the tech, find/create the market, and sell it.

    1. Positives: As one of Apple’s top managers, Craig Federighi Senior Vice President is an engineer, excited about new tech., commands the stage with flair, is a good speaker, and is likable.

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