The New York Times Sunday profile of Tim Cook

I found this profile frustrating, vexing. The tone is objective, but the prose manages to be damning at the same time, working in all the standard, shopworn stereotypes the Apple community has gotten used to having thrown their way.

Mr. Cook, who is 53, took over leadership of Apple nearly three years ago, after the death of Steve Jobs, the company’s revered founder. Like Walt Disney and Henry Ford, Mr. Jobs was intertwined with his company. Mr. Jobs was Apple and Apple was Jobs.

There’s this sense that Tim Cook is an empty shirt. I don’t have a problem reflecting on Steve Jobs and comparing Tim Cook’s approach to Steve’s. But there’s an undertone of snark to this profile, very well hidden. Except that it rises to the top in the title of one particular section, taken from this quote:

Mr. Brown’s colleague Chad Zeluff, 27, who saw Mr. Jobs deliver the keynote in 2007, put it this way: “Jobs is to Lennon what Cook is to Ringo.”

Leaving the question of Ringo Starr’s talent off the table, the comment is intended as a straight-out insult. Where’s the balance in posting a single negative quote? And then promoting that quote to a headline status to make it more prominent.

Consider this:

Ryan Scott, the chief executive of Causecast, a nonprofit that helps companies create volunteer and donation programs, called Mr. Cook’s charitable initiatives a “great start.” But Mr. Scott added that its programs are “not as significant as what other companies are doing.” Apple’s ambitions “could be much higher,” he said, given its money and talent. By comparison, Microsoft says that, on average, it donates $2 million a day in software to nonprofits, and its employees have donated over $1 billion, inclusive of the corporate match, since 1983. In the last two years, Apple employees have donated $50 million, including the match.

At first blush, this appears to be a crushing inditement of Tim Cook’s charitable initiatives. But the measurement is of employee gifts, not Apple’s. Apple matches in exactly the same way as Microsoft. More to the point, the author includes two numbers in the comparison, $1 billion for Microsoft versus $50 million for Apple. That is a huge difference, indeed. But let’s do a little math. That $1 billion was given over 31 years and is a self-reported number. The Apple number is over 2 years and no source for the number is given. Do that math and you’ll find that the numbers are much closer. To be truly objective, you’d really need to know the Microsoft donation numbers over the same 2 year period as the quoted Apple numbers.

Is Tim Cook perfect? No, of course not. But this article misses the point entirely. Take a few minutes and read this piece by John Gruber, entitled Only Apple. To me, this piece really captured the spirit of Apple under Tim Cook.

During the keynote last week, John Siracusa referenced The Godfather, quipping:

Today Tim settles all family business.

I’d say it’s more that Cook settled the family business back in October 2012. Last week’s keynote was when we, on the outside, finally saw the results. Apple today is firing on all cylinders. That’s a cliché but an apt one. Cook saw untapped potential in a company hampered by silos.


Jobs was a great CEO for leading Apple to become big. But Cook is a great CEO for leading Apple now that it is big, to allow the company to take advantage of its size and success. Matt Drance said it, and so will I: What we saw last week at WWDC 2014 would not have happened under Steve Jobs.

I couldn’t agree more.