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08.25.11

Steve Jobs 2.0

With the resignation of Steve Jobs, Apple’s new CEO is Tim Cook, about whom little is known. What is the Alabama-born former COO like? The Daily Beast looks at what the Internet is saying.

After Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple yesterday, COO Timothy Cook—who oversees the company’s supply chain, manufacturing, and other operations—was immediately chosen as his successor. Relatively little is known about the Alabama-born executive, who also serves on the board of Nike and previously worked at computer giant Compaq. Who is Tim Cook? Reads from around the Web:

Management Team Faces Task of Keeping Momentum,” by By Yukari Iwatani Kane and Nick Wingfield, The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 25, 2011

Mr. Cook isn’t the showman that Mr. Jobs is, but people who know him call him an "operational genius" who was responsible for crafting Apple’s current supply-chain system and helping to transform the company into one of the most efficient electronics manufacturers today.

The Alabama native, who majored in industrial engineering at Auburn University—he is a big Tigers football fan—and earned a master’s in business administration at Duke University, was being groomed to become a top executive at Compaq Computer Corp. when Mr. Jobs recruited him in 1998. A fitness fanatic who often arrives at the gym by 5 a.m., Mr. Cook had been known to quote the cyclist Lance Armstrong in Apple meetings.

Cook Aims to Provide Jobs’s ‘Gravitational Force’ at Apple,” by Adam Satariano and Peter Burrows, Bloomberg Businessweek, Aug. 25, 2011

During his 13 years at Apple, the 50-year-old Cook has mastered an expanding list of operational roles, including manufacturing, distribution, sales and customer service. The thing he has not shown is whether he’s a product visionary … While Cook was Jobs’s choice for successor, he hasn’t demonstrated whether he can rally the company’s about 50,000 employees as effectively as Jobs, who steered Apple into industries as varied as mobile phones, music downloads and retailing. …

The Genius Behind Steve,” by Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, Nov. 10, 2008

An intensely private Alabaman and Auburn University engineering grad (class of 1982), Cook is also a workaholic whose only interests outside of Apple appear to be cycling, the outdoors, and Auburn football …

Though he’s capable of mirth, Cook’s default facial expression is a frown, and his humor is of the dry variety. In meetings he’s known for long, uncomfortable pauses, when all you hear is the sound of his tearing the wrapper of the energy bars he constantly eats …

Cook’s stamina is the stuff of legend at Apple. He often begins e-mailing the executives who work for him at 4:30 a.m.; worldwide conference calls can take place at any time of day. For years, Cook held a standing Sunday night staff meeting by telephone in order to prepare for yet more meetings on Monday morning.

… While a select group can claim to understand Cook at work, almost nobody claims to know much about his life outside Apple. A lifelong bachelor, he lives in a rented house in Palo Alto, vacations in places like Yosemite and Zion national parks, and shows few visible signs of wealth despite having sold more than $100 million of Apple stock over the years. He’s known for being the first in and last out of the office and for his grinding international travel schedule, and when he isn’t working he tends to be in the gym, on a hiking trail, or riding his bike.

Cook had been known to quote cyclist Lance Armstrong in Apple meetings.

Cook a steady hand to fill in for Jobs,” by Dina Bass and Connie Guglielmo, The New York Times, Jan. 15, 2009

Cook expects the executives who work closely with him to be on call at all hours, [former Apple executive Mike] Janes said. In 2002, Janes flew with Cook to Singapore to meet with the company’s staff in the region. After a plane ride spent on the phone, Cook went directly to the office and held an eight-hour meeting, fueled by his ever-present energy bars …

Analysts and shareholders have grown accustomed to Cook’s slow, Southern drawl from his participation on Apple’s conference calls … Even with his soft-spoken manner, Cook’s “relentless” questioning can wear down and terrify poorly prepared underlings, Janes said.

”His forte is on the operations”, says Ashok Kumar, an analyst at Rodman & Renshaw LLC, in a Bloomberg Television interview:

“Tim Cook is very well regarded internally at the company. However, his forte is on the operations. He does not have the skill set to match Steve’s visionary capabilities, as well as ability to define products in unique times in history. So I think that shoe cannot be filled either by an individual or a group of individuals, and I think that chasm will exist as Steve Jobs moves on.”