Who should Apple hire as a ‘thought leader’?



Who would be the perfect 'thought leader' for Apple?

Here's a short list of contenders who could get the company thinking different again. Photo: Fovea Centralis/Flickr CC

Pharrell Williams

The pop star has been Apple-happy ever since he swapped his BlackBerry for a solid gold iPhone. His smash Academy Award-nominated Happy also showed he has global reach - check out the YouTube versions from Iran to Britain. Photo courtesy Back Lot Music, under license to Columbia Records.


Apple should consider stealing AOL’s digital prophet. If nothing else, it would be a sartorial/coiffurial break from the casual monotony Cupertino execs unfailingly sport during keynotes. Photo: David Shing/Instagram

Neymar Jr.

We had a brainwave after seeing the soccer star featured in the latest Beats by Dre ad. The Brazilian forward who plays in Barcelona has already acted as ambassador for his home country's pop music; why not for Apple? Photo courtesy Beats Electronics

John Green

“It's not the consumers' job to know what they want,” Steve Jobs once famously said. An entire generation of teens didn’t know they gave an OMG about American history until John Green came along with his fast-moving, pithy Crash Course videos. Green could further stack the deck on Apple’s education efforts, ensuring the company stays relevant for generations to come. Photo courtesy Crash Course

Amy Schumer

Her standup routines frequently put technology under the microscope. Whether it’s an emergency stylist for selfies or sexting Amy Schumer's got a real feel for how Apple changes our lives. Also, she’s all about sex. Apple should grow up and stop pretending to be Disney. Photo courtesy Comedy Central

Steven Pinker

Because he is a futurist without having to call himself one, the author of The Better Angels of Our Nature and The Stuff of Thought would be an excellent counterweight to Google’s guru Ray Kurzweil. Photo: Rebecca Goldstein/Wikipedia CC


John Oliver

Another smart Brit could be just the ticket for Apple. Think of what Apple could do with John Oliver’s wit, which fuels things like his hilarious campaign for net neutrality. Photo courtesy HBO

Elon Musk


Photo: Zobacz Zasady/Wikipedia CC

Bill Murray

For staff morale, we nominate the wisecracking star of Groundhog Day and Ghostbusters. Plus, Bill Murray's seeming ability to pop up everywhere — from a couple’s engagement photo to The New Yorker — could only be good publicity for Apple. Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures

Hillary Clinton

Hey, at least iOS will keep those Wall Street transcripts safe and sound. Photo: U.S. Department of State

Apple is looking to hire a thought leader. While the actual job listing — blah blah blah “execution of critical sale reporting projects” blah blah blah — sounds about as exciting as a new ink cartridge, the idea of a thought leader role at a company like Apple is worth pondering.

Ever since the death of co-founder Steve Jobs, there’s been much speculation and hand-wringing over who could assume his role as Apple’s foremost visionary. Although no one can ever fill his New Balances, we’ve rounded up a short list of leaders who might kick the Cupertino company in a new direction.

Who do you think should drive Apple’s big ideas? Check out our picks in the gallery above, then nominate yours in the comments below.

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  • William Donelson

    Whomever is the most critically important person at Google.

  • realitychk

    My vote – Elon Musk

  • Guest

    Richard Branson!

    • Eva Thyssen

      Yes! Richard is awesome, I’d love to see him leading Apple ^_^ a visionary man.

  • Scott Kuhn

    James Dyson is the logical choice!

    • He lives in my town. I drive past his house on my way to work.

  • lucascott

    I don’t think they should hire A thought leader. More like 3-4 of them. But make them folks that have no executive power to dictate Apple’s actual plans. They would be more like special consultants. A pack of fools to point out issues the king might not be seeing cause he’s too close to the issue.

    Perhaps they could expand it out even to a limited kind of market testing. Rather than bringing in folks that might leak out what items they were asked about, actively seek out people with good ideas about directions that could or should be taken. There are a number of bloggers out there with great ideas about features they would like to see etc. Many of them are younger and so more in tune with the upcoming consumers. Let them make their arguments directly to Apple. Kind of like the rumors that Steve Jobs was open to someone arguing why their idea wasn’t stupid at all.

  • font9a

    Horace Dediu

  • iFreek

    Does Apple really need one person from outside to be their visionary? There’s so much vision inside the company already. Elon Musk is great, but focussed on open source and a better match for Google. Richard Branson is more of a leader than a visionary.

  • Jeff Maxwell

    Is this a joke? You read that job description and now think Apple is conducting an OPEN job search for a “thought leader” from OUTSIDE the company to serve as some kind of company visionary? You’re high.

    Even if Apple was in the market for somebody from the outside to fill such a position, that’s not the kind of job for which you write an open job description! That’s a highly personalized (and secret) executive job search.

    The “staff writer” tried to make it sound like the specifics of the position were just a boring cover for the actual role as a company visionary such as might be filled by the likes presented in the article. However…no. Sometimes a boring sounding position is just a boring sounding position. It’s a sales position for the iPhone division. “The primary role of Thought Leader is to represent the WW iPhone Sales business in all work related to the sale reporting environment and tools and associated strategy.” Sure…someone like Elon Musk sounds perfect. /s

    They’re looking for somebody to help them do detailed analysis on iPhone sales – not provide visionary leadership for the company.

    I’ll say it again…you’re freaking high. Or an idiot.

  • jakezarobsky

    I’m waiting for Tim to contact me as I read this story.

  • Eva Thyssen

    Eva Thyssen of course.

  • RB

    Elon Musk.. Some of the others are a joke, right?