Tim Cook talks WWDC secrets, taxes, and how the iPhone could help people change the world

By

Tim Cook talks to John Dickerson
Tim Cook's interview aired the day before WWDC.
Photo: CBS

Tim Cook talked taxes, WWDC secrets, and how the iPhone can play a small, but important role in changing the world for the better in an interview aired over the weekend on CBS Sunday Morning.

“I’m full of secrets and it’s hard not to overflow right now,” Cook said. “But I’ve been trained well.” On other topics, however, he was a lot more open.

Cook talked about the killing of George Floyd, whose murder was recorded on a smartphone. Cook was then asked how he felt about the use of this technology in helping record incidents like this.

“We are humbled by it,” Cook said. “If you look back in time, some of the most dramatical societal changes have occurred because someone captured video. This has been true about things that happened in Birmingham. It is true about things that happened in Selma. The thing that has changed, though — and we are very proud of this — is that we’ve put a camera in everybody’s pocket. So it becomes much tougher for society to convince themselves that things didn’t happen. Or it happened in a different manner or whatever it might be.”

Changing the world for the better

Cook, who recently shared an open letter about racism in America on Apple’s home page, has been outspoken about inequality through his Apple tenure. As far back as 2013, he talked about how Apple should be a “force for good” in the world. He has also advised, in one of the rare incidents in which he seemed to lose his temper, profit-obsessed investors to get out of Apple stock if they didn’t believe Apple should use its resources to help where it could.

Cook told CBS that there was a time at which CEOs were supposed to focus on profits only. “That’s never been my view, he said. “I’ve never subscribed to that.” Cook said he believes the killing of George Floyd — and the actions that have followed it — will “change the world.”

The interviewer, John Dickerson, then asked if Cook brings up his views when speaking with President Donald Trump. “Of course I do,” Cook said. “All roads lead to equality,” he opined. “I believe that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect … We should start life on an equal footing. I long for that day.”

What else Tim Cook discussed in the interview

Elsewhere in the socially distanced interview (it was carried out remotely), Cook was challenged on his role balancing social concern with Apple’s need to pay the minimum level of corporate tax it can. “Our responsibility is to pay what we owe,” Cook said. He pointed out how Apple has contributed with the COVID-19 crisis. “My own view is that you pay what you owe in taxes, and then you give back to society,” he said.

Finally, he addressed wanting to get Apple employees back to Apple Park. Cook said that working remotely missed the “serendipity” that can occur when people are working in the same physical space. This idea of interesting interactions among colleagues in different departments was a core part of Apple Park’s design. It was inspired by a similar Steve Jobs philosophy developed at Pixar.