October 14, 2005: Tim Cook takes the reins as Apple’s chief operating officer, continuing an upward climb through the company’s ranks that will make him CEO less than six years later.
“Tim and I have worked together for over seven years now, and I am looking forward to working even more closely with him to help Apple reach some exciting goals during the coming years,” Steve Jobs says in a statement.
Tim Cook’s rise to the top at Apple
Prior to his promotion, Cook served as Apple’s vice president of worldwide sales and operations since 2002. Before that, he worked as Apple’s senior vice president of operations, joining the company in 1998 after a short stint at Compaq.
Cook’s expertise centered on operations and logistics. He loved nothing more than whittling down on-hand inventory. “You kind of want to manage it like you’re in the dairy business,” he once said. “If it gets past its freshness date, you have a problem.”
Within months of joining Apple, Cook slashed the company’s on-hand inventory from $400 million the previous December to just $78 million. He could be brutal with suppliers and people working under him. But he earned respect and became well-liked for his rational approach to problems.
With his October 14, 2005, promotion to COO, Cook became responsible for all of Apple’s worldwide sales and operations. He also led the company’s Macintosh division and worked with Jobs and other Cupertino execs “to lead Apple’s overall business.”
Tim Cook: A different kind of Apple exec
At that point, Cook’s future leadership of Apple as CEO wasn’t guaranteed. However, his name obviously appeared on a very short list of people up for consideration. His promotion to COO certainly didn’t surprise anyone, though. He had worked closely with Jobs for years.
What was interesting about Cook was how much he differed from many others in Apple’s upper echelons. He was understated compared to Jobs and the likes of Scott Forstall, a senior vice president who dressed like the Apple co-founder. (Forstall even drove the same model silver Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG as his boss.)
But Cook was like Jobs where it mattered. A hard-nosed negotiator, he proved tireless in his dedication to Apple — and obsessive about achieving feats most other companies viewed as impossible.
It certainly paid off.