Who Is Apple’s New CEO Tim Cook? [Bio]


Apple's new boss will sit opposite Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg a D10 next month.
Apple's new boss will sit opposite Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg a D10 next month.

The most valuable tech company on Earth has a new boss, and it’s Tim Cook, an intensely private and soft-spoken man who is taking over the role of CEO from one of the most iconic personalities on the planet. But who is Tim Cook? What’s he like? What’s he done to deserve the job? And can Apple really succeed without Steve Jobs at the helm?

To the latter question, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, Tim Cook has arguably been running Apple’s day-to-day operations for years. He has been more integral than anyone else in the company short of Steve himself in turning Apple around from a dying and moribund PC maker into the unstoppable juggernaut the company is today. Here’s what you need to know.

• The son of a shipyard worker, Tim Cook was born on November 1, 1960 in Robertsdale, Alabama. He’s 50.

• Cook earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University. He also has an MBA from Duke University as a Fuqua Scholar, which he achieved in 1988.

• Cook worked at IBM for 12 years starting in 1982.

• At IBM, Tim Cook was known for his dedication, working over Christmas and New Year holidays just so that IBM could complete its orders for the year.

• Within IBM, Cook was known for his geniality with his old IBM boss Richard Daugherty once saying off Cook that he had “a manner that really caused people to enjoy working with him.”

• In 1994, Tim Cook joined Intelligent Electronics’ computer reseller division, where he racked up his first position as COO.

• After selling the computer reseller division to Ingram Micro in 1997, Tim Cook went on to Compaq.

• Steve Jobs recognizes talent when he sees it, and after meeting Cook, poached him just six months into his career at Compaq.

• Tim Cook came to Apple in 1998. His first position was as the Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. In that position, Cook revolutionized Apple’s supply chain and built strong relationships with external manufacturers.

• Tim Cook is a notorious workaholic. He reportedly starts emailing his colleagues at 4:30am every day and used to hold Sunday night telephone meetings with managers to prepare for the week ahead.

• Cook’s no-nonsense approach to management and solving problems was made immediately evident upon coming to Apple. When in a meeting discussing a problem in China, Tim Cook noted that the problem was “really bad” and that someone should be in China fixing it. Thirty minutes later, Cook then famously looked over at Apple’s operations manager, Sabih Khan, and asked “Why are you still here?” Khan was on the next flight to China.

• One of the ways in which Cook revolutionized Apple’s supply chain was by virtually eliminating stockpiled inventory. This is important because every product that is stuck in a warehouse costs Apple money instead of making them money. Cook has called inventory “fundamentally evil” and likened the way a computer maker should handle inventory as being similar to the way a milkman should deliver milk: as straight from the cow as possible. By closing down warehouses, slashing inventory and getting products into consumer’s hands as directly from the manufacturing factories as possible, Cook has been integral in making Apple the most profitable PC maker on Earth.

• Tim Cook also convinced Apple to steer away from manufacturing its own components, and instead partner with external manufacturers like Foxconn.

• By building up these relationships with external manufacturers and investing heavily in them, Tim Cook helped develop another of Apple’s major strategies: creating revolutionary products, then locking up all the manufacturing resources necessary to making them. Cook created this strategy with the iPod Nano in 2005, and you can see it to this day: the reason no other company makes products like Apple’s is because the resources simply aren’t there, Apple controls them all.

• In 2004, Tim Cook took over the Macintosh division at Apple and oversaw the migration of Macs from PowerPC to Intel chips. By doing so and making it possible for Windows to run on a Mac through Boot Camp, Tim Cook’s strategy allowed millions of on-the-fence computer users to finally switch to Mac.

• It was while being the head of the Mac division in 2004 that Tim Cook first took over for Steve Jobs and became interim CEO while Jobs went in for pancreatic surgery.

• In 2007, Tim Cook was promoted to COO.

• Two years later, in 2009, Tim Cook again took over as CEO when Steve Jobs took medical leave in order to get a liver transplant.

• Finally, in January this year, Tim Cook took over the reins as interim CEO when Steve Jobs announced that we would be taking an extended medical leave.

• Combined, Tim Cook has spent over a year as the interim CEO of Apple.

• Not much is known about Tim Cook’s personal habits, as he is notoriously soft spoken and private. However, he is a fitness enthusiasts and enjoys hiking, cycling and going to the gym. He’s also on the board of directors of Nike.

• Tim Cook is a huge fan of Auburn’s football team.

• Not that it matters, but yes, Tim Cook is probably gay.

• Despite the fact that he was clearly being groomed for the job since at least 2004, Tim Cook never thought he’d be made CEO. He once famously said, “Come on, replace Steve? No. He’s irreplaceable… That’s something people have to get over. I see Steve there with gray hair in his 70s, long after I’m retired.”

• Although his personality is different than Jobs, who can be notoriously fearsome, he is quiet, pleasant and measured. TUAW’s Michael Grothaus, who used to work at Apple, wrote this about him:

Tim Cook is one of those rare people who stop and think before speaking. Standing in the same room with him I realized that he’s comfortable with silence as long as that silence is productive and appropriate. He’s not like other tech execs who ramble almost immediately and incoherently at any question lobbed at them, as if doing so will convince others they know everything about everything.

Tim Cook is a person who has confidence in his position as a leader, sans ego. Ego doesn’t take pauses. It’s rapid-fire. And it’s that confidence and lack of ego that allows him the time to examine the issues and questions at hand, no matter how lowly or silly others may think them, and address them appropriately.

• Can Tim Cook handle his role as Apple’s new CEO? Absolutely. In fact, arguably, he’s been running most of Apple for the last few years, with Apple’s ex-online store GM Michael Janes saying way back in 2009, “Tim runs Apple, and has for a very long time.”

  • Luke Lucas

    War Eagle!

    it’s not often we get positive news or attention here in the state of Alabama (see: the recent massive immigration debate), so this is a fantastic point of pride that a native son of the state is now at the head of what is arguably the most important tech company in the world.

  • Ed_Kel

    Good article. Got rid of all my doubts..

  • yopdesign

    overall i like his performance, but i hate the gay part…

  • Tombo

    Roll Tide!

    Not a direct Alabamian, but my family is from there. Good to see a native Southerner making a difference in Silicon Valley. See, we’re not all stupid.

  • MoodyRiviera

    None of this matters…because he is not Steve Jobs.

  • JayeDee369

    I had no doubts, watching this guy and the way he moves-he’s definitely a role model for others in leadership positions to follow. I think Apple is in great hands and I’m waiting to see what he rolls out with in the years to come. GO GET ‘EM MR. COOK!!

  • Dupek2008

    common, cook just made same presentation where he said ” the future is in printers, i’ m absolutely convinced of that” the guy is just a salesman, maybe a good one, but please, the guy is a dope, he was asked to say somtheing about future products and he farted like an imbecil, “printers”! he farted, no, shoes man, shoes and shoe laces, what a dope, apples end is near, how sad

  • David

    Why do you add in the bio … ‘not that it matters, but he is probably gay”.  Wow, was that necessary or even relevant?  Or did you just have to get some kind of a dig in that was totally inappropriate … You just lost my vote as a writer and reporter.

  • Jdsonice

    True – he maybe better than Steve Jobs. No one and I mean no one including Steve Jobs can remain productive over long periods of time.  

    Tim Cook brings new blood to the position and possibly new ideas. Organizations are strengthened by change specially a company like Apple. 

    Don’t get me wrong I am a big fan of Steve Jobs and there will be no one like him again for a long time. That does not mean that Apple is going to do poorly. 

  • David

    When you really have something worthwhile and nice to say, then okay.  But this post is terrible

  • David

    You really missed the boat on this one.  Read John Gruber’s take on the success of Steve Jobs.  His most important success is Apple … the corporation, the culture, the expert workers and contributors.  Yes, Steve will be missed, but he is still the Chairman of the Board, still an Apple employee, and he selected and wanted the board to vote Mr. Cook in as CEO.  He’s just been doing the job for the last year anyway.  What is supposed to change, other than ridulous posts like yours.

  • JonahBaker

    ? got an iPad 2-(32GB)  for $ 23.87 and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumi x GF 1 Camera that we got for $ 38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $ 657 which only cost me $ 62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, http://to.ly/b0Gt

  • Benrollohayward

    Dude, that was from The Onion; it’s an openly fake news site. Don’t be silly. 

  • LM

    “…he is probably gay…” I’m with David, this is absolutely an unnecessary information. Should it make difference in the role of ceo?

  • brownlee

    I knew this was going to happen. I completely disagree with you in every respect: I think it is very relevant that Tim Cook is gay, and I am totally mystified by people who want to hide that fact like you seem to.

    I think it is very relevant that Tim Cook is gay, and I am totally mystified by people who want to sweep his sexual orientation into the shadows. It’s a big, wonderful deal, worthy of celebration.

    We live in a country that is still shockingly hostile to homosexuality, yet a gay man is now one of the most powerful people in the country. He’s in charge of one of America’s most cherished companies and the most valuable corporation on Earth. That is extremely important.

    You don’t think that’s amazing? You don’t think that’s worthy of underlining so that every ignorant idiot who walks around talking about how gay people are abnormal or blights upon the country have a concrete example, right there, of a quiet, dignified gay man who is universally admired and respected… a person with qualities to which most of us can only aspire? I do.

    You think it’s homophobic to mention he’s gay? I think it’s homophobic to not *celebrate* the fact that he’s gay. He’s a hero. And obviously, I’m not alone, because the LGBT community thinks Tim Cook’s a hero too.

    Look, whatever. I am fiercely pro-LGBT, but if you don’t believe me, fine. But I’m certainly not going to be lectured for being honest enough to merely mention the fact of Cook’s sexual orientation by people so squeamish about the concept of homosexuality that they’d rather just hide it all in the shadows.

    It’s not like anyone ever demanded that we not report on the fact that Steve Jobs was married, or a family man. Somehow, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” proponents of this world just never have a problem when it’s about a straight guy.

  • brownlee

    Also, I’ll just say that I can tell a lot about what you think about homosexuality in general that you think saying “Tim Cook is gay” is an insult.

  • Dreamgrifter Films

    Not that it matters, but he probably drinks tea vs coffee.  Or should all of his personal lifestyle choices be highlighted (highlit?)…

  • francois swanepoel

    tim cook is absolutely fabulous and fine, aapl and apple will be fine too……

  • huij96
  • huij96

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  • huij96
  • huij96
  • Yaz Khoury

    Well said, John.

  • Mac365

    Apple isn’t the second wealthiest corporation on Earth, it has the second largest cash holdings. There are many other assets that are accounted for when determining a corporation’s wealth, not just cash holdings. Apple only broke into the top 50 of the Fortune 500 this year based largely on iphone sales.

  • Mac365

    Apple makes up about 11% of the personal computer market and about 35% of smart phone sales (which are it’s biggest sales figures as a corporation). Not to mention that a large portion of its computer sales are educational institution based. It’s hardly the most important Tech company in the world.

    They do make some cool stuff though, I’ll give you that.

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  • aardman

    You’re mixing up cash holdings and market capitalization.

  • aardman

    So what exactly makes a company the most important tech company in the world if it’s not the amount of influence it has had in setting the direction of the entire tech industry?  Or are you going to tell us that right now there is a company out there whose products have changed the tech industry landscape more than the  iPod, iPhone and iPad have?

  • Greg_in_Dallas

    That 11% is up from less than 5% just a short time ago.  While HP, Dell, and others are dealing with sales decline, Apple is making big gains.  They may not be the most important (i.e. they don’t make super computers for military or research labs) but they are the most influential to commercial and consumer markets… today.  Anyone remember Nokia?

  • ismaelsobek

    GLBTQ people all over the world are denied the opportunity to develop themselves as complete human beings, being told to shutter intimate parts of ourselves. Here, in this country, under years of accumulated discriminatory laws and cultural customs, we are being denied our dignity. In the worst social climates, we may have our lives taken from us.

    For those reasons, it *does* matter that the new CEO of one of the most innovative, powerful, profitable companies on the planet is gay.


  • Deepak K Tibrewal

    A person’s sexual orientation will no way affect his capacity to innovate and lead. Well i am not a gay and could never understand / feel how any body can be sexually attracted towards another person of same sex ?
    No one can be like Steve as each one of us are unique by design. However no one is indispensable. As nature likes it, change is most fundamental truth and it brings goodness.  

  • Guest


  • isaakdury

    It doesn’t make a difference, but it is usually to quote that an incumbent has a wife and x number of children etc. it helps paint a portrait, it also helps us to frame the sort of person he is. Without that statement I for one would be left asking how many kids, is he divorced etc… 

    All power to the bloke, big shoes, but he sounds capable!

  • So sick of it

    No, it doesn’t.  My most intimate parts stay shuttered and shared only with my most intimate partner.  It’s time for those who think they have to broadcast their personal sexual preference to the world every second to find something else to talk about.  We’re sick of hearing it.

  • So sick of it

    I don’t care whether he’s gay or not and it’s not necessary to bring it up.  If he were straight and had a preference for BDSM would you put that in this article?  If Tim were married or had a civil union with a partner it would be worth mentioning.  Since you don’t know, it’s not.

  • Humps Blow-Doll

    i am french, and i do not want gay men running apple, i am giving away my apple and i will be choosing linux (linux is not tun by gay)

    in france, gay man would NEVER be allow to run big company, it would never happen

  • ismaelsobek

    Straights aren’t encouraged to shutter their entire sexuality, and hide from the world. A private person is a private person. But straight people never answer a question about their sexuality by denying that they’re straight.

    Steve Jobs’ family life was as theoretically (ir)relevant to his work as you claim Cook’s is. Yet no one cried foul when Steve’s wife or children were mentioned in news reports. When the media began to pry into his personal life (about his illness), Steve himself protested. But the fact that Steve Jobs is *probably* straight seems to be a non-issue.

  • brownlee

    Right, you’re sick of hearing about it because you think homosexuality is icky. We get it. “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” right, partner?

  • Info

    French people, too dump to live…

  • Dreamgrifter Films

    Actually, that would have made the article too…(BDSM or civil union)

  • cobrayogesh

    fuck yourself assole ship me ur apple bitch than 

  • person287

    All I can say is that he obviously cares a lot about apple! I got a reply to an email I sent to him at about 6:30 US Time and the IP Looks like a Public WiFi place (AT&T Wayport). To be honest though he’s pretty much been CEO since January and everything looks like it’s going smoothly, so I’d expect Apple will continue to keep growing at the same rate.