In an extensive interview with The Washington Post, Tim Cook has reflected on what will soon be five years since he took over from Steve Jobs as Apple CEO on August 24th, 2011. Although the interview doesn’t stray too far from Apple’s well-rehearsed talking points — don’t expect the CEO to spill the beans on Apple’s car or get into gritty details on the dilapidated Mac line, though he does reaffirm that Apple is “doing a lot on” AR and views it as a “core technology” — it’s a substantial read that gives a lot of insight into how Cook runs the company.
“The obvious things are we have more employees in the company,” Cook says when asked what’s changed since he took over. “The company is four times larger [by revenue since 2010]. We’ve broadened the iPhone lineup. That was a really key decision, and I think a good one. We’ve gone into the Apple Watch business, which has gotten us into wellness and in health. We keep pulling that string to see where that takes us. Lots of core technology work has been done.”
Hiring John Browett was ‘clearly a screw-up’
Cook echoes another recent interview with SVP Eddy Cue by identifying the Maps debacle as one of Apple’s biggest failures under his leadership. “Today we have a product we’re proud of,” he says. “[But] we had the self-honesty to admit this wasn’t our finest hour and the courage to choose another way of doing it. That’s important.” The CEO went further by saying the hiring of John Browett as retail chief in 2012 was “clearly a screw-up” as the former Dixons boss “didn’t fit here culturally;” Browett was ousted after just ten months in the job.
Cook also addresses Apple’s increasingly public approach to environmental and social issues. “We’ve had environmental work going on at Apple for decades, but we didn’t talk about it, and we didn’t set aspirational kind of objectives,” he says. “We used the same philosophy we do with our products, which is you unveil them when you’ve finished. But we stepped back and re-evaluated that and said, ‘You know, if we wait until you do that, we’re not helping anyone else get there, too.'”
Similar principles appear to have been behind Cook’s decision to publicly address his sexuality by coming out as gay in a 2014 Bloomberg Businessweek op-ed. “I thought it would minimally say you can do pretty good in this world and be gay,” Cook says. “That it’s not a limiter. It’s okay to be. That it’s okay to be honest about it. I figured if I could help one person, it would be worth it.” Cook says the moment had been planned for around a year, with him consulting people including Anderson Cooper after being impressed with the way that the CNN anchor had handled his own announcement.
For more, make sure to read all nearly 10,000 words of the interview over at The Washington Post.