Fortune on how Tim Cook is changing Apple

Fortune on how Tim Cook is changing Apple

Summary: A FORTUNE cover story on Apple CEO Tim Cook tackles his leadership style (and how it differs from Steve Jobs), Facebook, product development and Apple's top-secret Top 100 meetings.


The issue of FORTUNE magazine features an in-depth report on Apple CEO Tim Cook that delves into his leadership style, how it differs from Steve Jobs, his thoughts on Facebook, Apple's product development and, for the first time, he discusses the top-secret “Top 100” meetings that Apple holds with its highest valued employees:

In mid-April the company took over the Carmel Valley Ranch hotel complex for its first ultra-secretive "Top 100" meeting since Jobs died. The hush-hush conclave is a rare opportunity for top managers -- not necessarily chosen by rank, but rather by the CEO's assessment of who are the most valuable contributors at any given time -- to learn what products and services are on tap for the next year and a half or so. Following tradition, Cook required his executives to travel the 80 miles from Cupertino to the resort on chartered buses so that their comings and goings could be controlled. He also asked several executives to make presentations to the group -- just as Jobs had done.

A difference, according to multiple secondhand reports of the retreat, is that the spirit of the meeting was upbeat and even fun. Cook was said to be in a jovial, joke-cracking mood -- a stark contrast to the grim and fearful tone Jobs engendered at the meetings. Participants left the Top 100 energized about Apple's near-term outlook, presumably having seen Apple's next iPhone and perhaps its long-awaited television product too. One veteran executive was "blown away" by what he had seen, says someone this executive spoke to afterward. Reports another person with access to top-level Apple executives: "People came away totally comfortable with where the company is headed."

FORTUNE's Adam Lashinsky details Cook's February meeting with investors where his leadership style began to emerge.

It’s a subtle but significant change—investors now have the CEO’s ear for the first time in years—and it’s one of many Cook has instituted at Apple as he approaches his one-year mark at the helm… In some cases Cook is taking action that Apple sorely needed and employees badly wanted. It’s almost as if he is working his way through a to-do list of long-overdue repairs the previous occupant (Jobs) refused to address for no reason other than obstinacy.

One investor tells FORTUNE that during the February meeting Cook "was in complete control and knew exactly who he was and where he wanted to go. He answered every question head-on and didn’t skirt any issue.”

During that February same investor meeting, Cook shared his thoughts about Facebook.

Cook called the neighboring upstart 'the one company that is closest to being like Apple,' adding that he had huge respect for Facebook, with which Apple could work more closely.

Lashinsky writes about product development under Cook and in particular, Siri:

Those looking for deficiencies have found them in Siri, a less-than-perfect product that Apple released with the rare beta label in late 2011, a signal that the service shouldn’t be viewed as fully baked. Siri’s response time has been slow, meaning the servers and software powering it are inadequate.

One former insider says to FORTUNE, “People are embarrassed by Siri. Steve would have lost his mind over Siri.”

Adam Lashinsky's cover story "How Tim Cook Is Changing Apple" is available online today and hits newsstands on Monday, May 28.

Topic: Apple

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  • Funny all the Apple fanboi Siri defenders

    [i]People are embarrassed by Siri. Steve would have lost his mind over Siri[/i]

    This just vindicated everyone who ever laughed at the fail that is Siri.

    This just humiliated everyone who has ever defended Siri.

    You know who you are.
  • I have a lot of respect for Tim Cook

    For the first time ever, Apple is being led by a man that is easily respected.

    [i]It???s almost as if he is working his way through a to-do list of long-overdue repairs the previous occupant (Jobs) refused to address for no reason other than obstinacy[/i]

    This is what we, as outsiders to Apple, have taken away from what Cook has been doing in the last little while. He is acting like a good business leader [b]and[/b] a decent human being. While it is impossible to dismiss the amazing accomplishments that Apple employees accomplished while Jobs coincidentally happened to be at the helm, Jobs never acted like a decent human being. He acted like Burns from Simpsons. It is nice to see that Apple can be profitable while also being much more human.

    I'm not a fan of any company because no company out there has been worthy of my fandom. Apple under Tim Cook has come the closest.
    • While it's undeniable that Jobs could be a real pr**k...'s hard to buy your subtle inclusion of "coincidentally" above. You don't have to like or respect the man, but Apple was flailing when Jobs returned. It's pretty ludicrous to paint the picture that the return to the top had nothing to do with him being at the helm. Certainly that doesn't discount the value and contributions of Apple's employees to that same success, but it's very similar to sports where a team can have an abundance of talent that doesn't translate into championships until the right coach is put in place.
    • LOL - Editor's Choice? What a joke!

      lol... :D

      That's hilarious considering that's one of the most insincere pieces of crap I've around around here. The fact that this blogger praises a troll like you says a lot about the zdnet staff and it's sock puppets around here.
      • This is a bigger hoot yet

        toddbottom3: [i] [Cook] is acting like a good business leader [b]and[/b] a decent human being. [/i]

        Bagging almost $400 million last year alone, even Lucifer could be a decent human being. Oh wait, did I say [i]decent[/i]?

        God Bless unemployed and underemployed America! Is it any wonder?
        *sustained fandom applause* -|- *Cook makes another cool million while bowing*

        [b]Made in Communist China, imported to unemployed America.[/b] Get out your stars-and-stripes decency flags, kids. Don't worry if they're a little faded and frayed at this point. Just look away! *claps like a seal*
      • What's the matter, klumper?

        Did you lose your job at the Genius Bar?
        Color Me Blood Red
      • Ah, lookey there

        win_tarded (formerly re_tarded) is clapping like an obedient, starry eyed seal.

        Don't drop yer sino stars and stripes, or dirty your red slacks tard.
      • klumper can't deal with mickey d's

        they don't pay as much, do they?

        Color Me Blood Red
      • And you sound like you're in high school

        Or am I giving you too much credit?
  • Tabloidish slant

    Steven would not lost his mind over Siri, he actually used it in many variants since 2010, when he decided to buy the developer.

    Also, there is no "contrast" in way how top 100 meeting is held under Jobs and Cook, and Jobs came up with this concept to support his best employees, and those meetings usually were not grave at all. Jobs even participated in special funny mini-films that create light mood.

    Overall, there is not much changing in Apple, and it is good, because the company was built to be the biggest ever in human history, and it is on its way to this goal.
    • How do you know?

      [i]Also, there is no "contrast" in way how top 100 meeting is held under Jobs and Cook[/i]

      No offense but I'll believe someone who was there, or someone who interviewed people who were there, rather than someone whose ZDNet forum handle is DeRSSS and is known for posting completely false information.

      But no offense intended.
      • Basement-dwelling creeps, losers, and 35 yr old virgins live for this stuff

        "No offense but I'll believe someone who was there, or someone who interviewed people who were there"

        ZDNet is professional anti-Apple propaganda. It's Apple hate and BS written to feed gamers and Microsoft egoists their daily dose of Apple "fail" and "lose". Today it's about Siri "fail". And SJ hatred. The basement-dwelling creeps, losers, and 35 year old virgins live for this stuff.
      • Seriously? You think ZDNet is *anti-Apple*???


        Holy **** - what are you basing this on? You read this one article and you're set?

        Clearly you missed the week and half cloth rending and wailing session that went on here when Jobs died. I literally had to stop reading this site for a while it got so bad.

        James Kendrick's Mobile News can be summed up like this: Everyone should get an iPad and iPhone - Android sucks horribly - Windows isn't even in the discussion. Seriously every second post is why Android sucks.

        Mary-Jo Foley (whose writing in All About Microsoft I love) bought an iPad and while ragging on Microsoft for 'shoving touch down our throat' insists on touting the wonders of Apple's iDevices on us.

        And don't get me started on Jason Perlow (Tech Broiler)... who went from being one of the staunchest anti-Apple guys here to being its loudest indiscriminate cheerleader.

        Even Adrian Kingsley-Hughes (Hardware 2.0), another writer who's works I generally enjoy and respect here, often seems to dip in the Apple sauce more often than I'd like (although there's always this tone of 'don't blame me - I have no choice' to his more positive Apple articles...)

        Sorry - if you believe ZDNet is anti-Apple, then you're clearly SO insecure, SO obsessive about Apple that even the slightest criticism is equivalent to outright attack by bands of haters.

        Perhaps you're projecting when you call anyone who doesn't worship all thing Apple and Jobs as being 'The basement-dwelling creeps, losers, and 35 year old virgins....'
    • The "Top 100" meetings

      ...are some of the most secret things that Apple does. I would love to know how you have any such knowledge.
  • Propaganda 101

    Notice how the Fortune article, and this repeat of it, paint a negative, authoritarian image of Steve Jobs contrasted with a more friendly approach from Tim Cook. This is done to support, to justify, past hatred by haters. To make their past hate of someone who is now revered "right" and warranted. Being "right" is job#1 for an egoist/hater. And when they're a large part of your page-click$, it's good business to make them "right".
  • He has an advantage...

    ..Steve jobs cut away all the bureaucracy that would have stopped Tim cold in his tracks. Eventually, the bureaucrats will return. Tim's leadership will be judged by his resistance to this event. If you want to see a company totally tied down by bureaucrats, take a look at HP. Good people, but no one can tell the truth to their leaders because they are afraid of the bureaucracy.
    Tony Burzio
  • Its too early to tell

    Jobs, despite being "indecently human" had a mandate based on whatever life he's got left. "Death was the best invention..." so he said. And he brought Apple from below Microsoft to where it is today. The foundation and momentum that Apple will continue to build on is huge.

    It is a different era with Tim Cook now. But even if Apple will grow from here and not humble many years from now, it is also largely due to the foundation that Jobs has put in place. Unless Tim can be more like Jesus, soft and not weak, hard and not abrasive, he would be more prone to loose momentum, very slowly but surely.

    Revolutionaries aren't nice guys.
    Samuel Koh
    • What I've found in my own life is that the old saying

      "Honesty is the best policy" is garbadge. I've put it too the test time and again and what I found is when I told the truth I was harmed and when I lied I was not so heck sometimes I was even rewarded. Still what I think Steve Jobs was thought of as being cruel was actually more likely just honest. He said what he thought and did not candy coat it. Why? Because he wanted to get things done as quickly as possible cause he had a lot on his plate to get too and waisting time stroking others ego's wasn't going to get the job done. Cruel to be kind if you will:)

      There will always be those who even after his death will try to tear at Steve Jobs. Why? Who knows perhaps because the dead can not defend themselves and it's easy. Still it is lame to do so and says far more about the person doing such than it does about Steve Jobs for his accomplishments and place in history is well established.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
  • Well the changes aren't coming without a MBA price tag

    [i][b]Headline: CEO pay rises again, while workers struggle to find work[/b][/i]

    Tim Cook is now estimated to be the highest-paid CEO in the world, bagging almost $400 million last year alone.

    Made in [s]China[/s] America as they say.
    • God Bless America!

      Just think, the CEO of the most valuable company in the world actually getting paid what he's worth. If only the same was true for our politicians they'd all be looking for work elsewhere - and they wouldn't find any because of the political system sucking the work ethic (all ethics really) out of them. At least we got it half right!