Tim Cook is an American business executive who succeeded Steve Jobs as the chief executive officer (CEO) of ‘Apple Inc.’ in 2011. Even before officially assuming the title of the CEO, he had served as the acting CEO during Jobs’ long medical leave in the months preceding the former ‘Apple’ CEO’s death. From the time he joined ‘Apple’ as the senior vice president (SVP) of Worldwide Operations in 1998, Tim Cook has been instrumental in leading the company towards success. In fact, ‘Apple’ was going through a tough phase when Cook accepted to join the company and his role in resurrecting the company has been immense. Born into a middle class home in a small town, Cook is a self-made man. A good student at school, he went on to study industrial engineering at the ‘Auburn University’ in Alabama before completing his MBA degree at the Duke University's ‘Fuqua School of Business.’ He entered the field of computer technology and started working for IBM. Brilliant, creative, and blessed with steely determination, Cook rose through the ranks within the company. He then went on to work for ‘Compaq.’ But his stay at ‘Compaq’ was short-lived as he left the company to join the then-struggling ‘Apple.’ He then changed the company’s fortunes within years of joining.
Childhood & Early Life
Tim Cook was born Timothy Donald Cook on November 1, 1960, in the small town of Robertsdale, Alabama, United States. His father Donald was a shipyard worker, while his mother Geraldine worked at a pharmacy. He has two brothers.
He went to ‘Robertsdale High School,’ following which he enrolled at the ‘Auburn University’ from where he earned a B.S. degree in industrial engineering in 1982.
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Tim Cook landed a job at ‘International Business Machines Corporation’ (IBM) shortly after his graduation. He always wanted to work in the field of computer technology and this job was dream come true for the young graduate.
Over the course of his career, he also furthered his education, earning a master of business administration (MBA) from Duke University's ‘Fuqua School of Business’ in 1988. A brilliant student, he was given the title ‘Fuqua Scholar,’ an honor given to those who graduate with flying colors.
He rose through the ranks steadily at IBM. By 1994, he had become the company’s North American Fulfillment director, managing manufacturing and distribution functions for IBM's ‘Personal Computer Company’ in both North and Latin America.
After a 12-year-long career at IBM, Cook moved to ‘Intelligent Electronics’ as the chief operating officer (Reseller Division) in 1994. He worked there for three years before accepting an offer at ‘Compaq Computer Corporation’ as vice president of corporate materials.
Just a few months after joining ‘Compaq,’ he was called for an interview by Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs. ‘Apple’ was struggling during the late-1990s and Cook’s friends and well-wishers advised him against accepting an offer from ‘Apple.’ However, Cook was highly impressed by Steve Jobs’ vision for the company and decided to join ‘Apple.’
Cook joined ‘Apple’ in March 1998 as senior vice president (SVP) of Worldwide Operations. His decision to join the company was criticized by many as Apple’s future looked uncertain at that time. However, Cook had an intuitive feeling that he had taken the right decision.
He was given the responsibility of managing worldwide sales and operations, including service and support. In this position, he was instrumental in developing supplier relationship strategies and also led the company’s Macintosh division. Within a year of his joining, ‘Apple’ started reporting profits after having suffered heavy losses the past year.
Cook was keen on streamlining the company’s supply chain and operations. He closed the company’s factories and warehouses, replacing them with contract manufacturers. He implemented steps to cut costs. This move coupled with Apple’s marketing innovation helped turnaround the fortunes of the company.
‘Apple’ launched new products, such as iMac, iPod, and iPhone. By this time, the company had regained its corporate image and was in a position to charge high prices for its products, while managing to minimize the costs of production.
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Cook was promoted to the position of chief operating officer (COO) in January 2007. Meanwhile, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 and he took a leave of absence owing to his health in 2009. During this period, Cook served as the acting CEO.
Jobs’ health deteriorated over the following months and he was forced to take frequent leaves of absence. Cook was responsible for most of Apple's day-to-day operations in Jobs’ absence.
Unable to cope with the pressure of being the CEO, Jobs resigned as CEO and became chairman of the board in August 2011. Tim Cook was named CEO of ‘Apple Inc.’ on August 24, 2011.
Under Cook’s leadership, ‘Apple’ continued to flourish. In May 2014, the company announced its acquisition of ‘Beats Music’ and ‘Beats Electronics’ for $3 billion—Apple’s biggest acquisition to date.
In 2016, ‘Apple’ invested $1 billion in ‘DiDi,’ a Chinese transportation network company. Other important acquisitions by ‘Apple’ under Cook include ‘Akonia Holographics’ and conversational computing company by ‘PullString.’
Under Cook, ‘Apple’ has also ventured into entertainment medium, launching its own channel ‘Apple TV+.’ The channel has produced various shows starring famous celebrities and continues to develop original content.
In July 2019, ‘Apple’ announced its $1 billion collaboration with ‘Intel’ to procure a smartphone modem business of ‘Intel Mobile Communications.’ The same year, Cook was also made chairman of the advisory board of the Tsinghua University's economics school for three years.
Tim Cook joined ‘Apple Inc.’ at a time when the company was struggling. Within a year of his joining the company, ‘Apple’ started registering profits. Over the years, it became one of the world’s largest information technology companies by revenue. Cook, along with former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, is credited to have played a major role in the company’s resurrection.
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Awards & Achievements
He was named one of ‘Forbes’ magazine's ‘World's Most Powerful People’ in 2011.
In 2015, Cook was inducted into the ‘Alabama Academy of Honor,’ the highest honor given by Alabama to its citizens.
He received an honorary doctorate from ‘George Washington University’ in 2015.
In 2017, he received an honorary Doctor of Science from the ‘University of Glasgow.’
Tim Cook donated $50 million to ‘Stanford’ hospitals, including $25 million to a new children’s hospital in 2012. He also made a $50 million donation to the charity ‘Product Red,’ which works towards combating issues like AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
In March 2015, he announced that he has plans to donate his entire fortune to charity. He also stated that he would develop a systematic approach to philanthropy.
Personal Life & Legacy
Tim Cook is openly gay. He is a solitary person and does not like to give interviews. A fitness enthusiast, he enjoys cycling and working out at the gym.
As of 2020, Tim Cook has a net worth of $1 billion.