Apple COO — no, excuse me, CEO — Tim Cook is a figure well known to the tech community, but one who has probably flown under the radar of most Apple fans.
Yet Cook has effectively been running Apple since Jobs stepped down in January, and stepped up to the big chair twice before as Jobs battled cancer. This is something Apple has clearly recognized — the company announced Cook’s promotion almost immediately after Jobs put forth his right-hand man’s name in his resignation letter.
Steve Jobs might be the face and heart of the culture at Apple, but Cook is the one who’s been overseeing the company as it’s climbed over the past year with the introduction of the iPad 2, the iCloud suite of services and its remarkable, if brief, reign as the largest company on the stock market.
As the company’s chief of operations, Cook is known to obsessive Apple watchers as a man with excellent business sense, credited with creating and streamlining the company’s network of suppliers and manufacturers. Cook joined Apple in 1998, after stints at Compaq and IBM, with the mission to pull the company out of manufacturing.
A native of Alabama, Cook is known to be hard to fluster, driven and demanding. And although he has played down his chances at taking over as CEO in the past — a 2008 article from Fortune Magazine has him saying “I see Steve there with gray hair in his 70s, long after I'm retired.” — he has been seen as Jobs’s natural successor for years. Analysts have said that Apple will do fine in his continued care.
Although it’s unlikely he’ll match the innovative momentum of his predecessor, the culture that Jobs has created isn’t going to leave with him — particularly since he’s staying on as chairman. In his place, Jobs leaves not only Cook but a company supported by executives who’ve internalized Jobs’s way of thinking, including design guru Jonathan Ive, marketing director Phil Schiller and iPhone software lead Scott Forstall.
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