John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Tim Cook as Apple CEO: A Tested and Steady Hand

Tim Cook, the Apple executive tapped to succeed Steve Jobs as CEO, has some big shoes to fill. Jobs not only co-founded the company, but brought it back from the brink of bankruptcy and made it the most valuable tech company in the world with a string of hit products that reshaped the computing, entertainment and wireless industries. How do you follow that?

You don’t. As Daring Fireball’s John Gruber once wrote, “There will not be a next Steve Jobs. There will be a next CEO.”

And Cook is arguably the best guy for the job. Certainly Jobs thinks so. And Apple’s board agrees. “The board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” director Art Levinson said in a statement announcing the appointment. “Tim’s 13 years of service to Apple have been marked by outstanding performance, and he has demonstrated remarkable talent and sound judgment in everything he does.”

Cook may not be the product visionary that Jobs is and he may not be the showman, but he’s clearly got the skills to lead the company. He’s been running Apple’s day-to-day operations in Jobs’s absence since January and did so twice before during Jobs’s earlier leaves. He’s also the guy who completely restructured Apple’s manufacturing operations and recalibrated its supply chain to lock up component resources in an increasingly competitive market.

As Needham analyst Charlie Wolf told AllThingsD back in January, “Tim Cook has matured into one of the leading managers in this country.

And beyond this, he understands Apple and its ethos. To wit, Cook’s remarks at the Goldman Sachs tech conference last year:

“We say no to great ideas every day. And we do that in order to keep the amount of things we focus on very small in number so that we can put all our energy behind the ones we do choose. … The word ‘complete’ is not in our dictionary. We’re innovators.”

And these from one of Apple’s 2009 earnings calls:

“There is an extraordinary breadth and depth and tenor among the Apple executive team. These executives lead over 35,000 employees that I would call all wicked smart. And that’s in all areas of the company from engineering to marketing to operations and sales and all the rest.

And the values of our company are extremely well entrenched.

We believe that we’re on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We’re constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple, not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make. And participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.

We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollenization of our groups which allow us to innovate in ways that others cannot. And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company — and we have the self honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.

And I think regardless of who is in what job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.”

Below, Tim Cook speaks at Auburn University’s spring 2010 commencement.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik