Tim Cook

Tim Cook Biography.com

Business Leader(1960–)
Tim Cook took over for the late Steve Jobs as Apple's CEO in August 2011. Prior to that, Cook served as Apple's chief operating officer.


Born in Alabama on November 1, 1960, Tim Cook graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering in 1982, and went on to earn an M.B.A. from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business in the late '80s. Following a 12-year career at IBM, in 1994, Cook became a chief operating officer (Reseller Division) at Intelligent Electronics. He then worked for Compaq as vice president of corporate materials, procuring and managing product inventory. After six months at Compaq, Cook left his position and took a job at Apple. In August 2011, Cook was named Apple's new CEO, taking over the position for former CEO and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in October 2011 after a years-long battle with cancer.

Younger Years

Tim Cook was born Timothy D. Cook in the small town of Robertsdale, Alabama, on November 1, 1960. The middle of three sons born to father Donald, a shipyard worker, and mother Geraldine, a homemaker, Cook attended Robertsdale High School, and graduated second in his class in 1978. He then enrolled at Auburn University in Alabama, where he graduated in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering, and went on to earn a Master of Business Administration degree from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business in 1988. There, Cook earned the title of Fuqua Scholar—an honor given only to students at the the business school who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class.

Early Career

Fresh out of graduate school, Cook embarked on a career in the field of computer technology: He was hired by IBM, where he moved up the ranks to become the computer corporation's North American Fulfillment director, managing manufacturing and distribution functions for IBM's Personal Computer Company in both North and Latin America.

Following a 12-year career at IBM, in 1994, Cook became a chief operating officer (Reseller Division) at Intelligent Electronics. Afte three years there, he was ready for another move: The Compaq Computer Corporation hired Cook as vice president of corporate materials, entrusting him with procuring and managing the company's product inventory. His time there was short-lived, however: After a six-month stint at Compaq, Cook left for a position at Apple.

Career at Apple

"My most significant discovery so far in my life was the result of one single decision: My decision to join Apple," Cook stated nearly 15 years after joining the corporation, while speaking at Auburn University's commencement ceremony in 2010.

But Cook's decision to join Apple wasn't an easy one: He began working for Apple in early 1998, before the company had developed the likes of the iMac, iPod, iPhone or iPad, and when it was seeing declining profits instead of profit growth. According to Cook, prior to accepting his job at Apple, he was actually dissuaded from taking the job, and was told that the company's future looked very bleak: "While Apple did make Macs, the company had been losing sales for years and was commonly considered to be on the verge of extinction. Only a few months before I'd accepted the job at Apple, Michael Dell, the founder and CEO of Dell Computer, was publicly asked what he would do to fix Apple, and he responded, 'I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders,'" Cook explained to Auburn graduates in 2010.

Soon after Cook came on board, however, things began to look a little brighter at Apple. As the corporation's chief operating officer, Cook was responsible for managing all sales and operations worldwide, including sales activities, and service and support. He was also a leader of the company's Macintosh division and in developing reseller/supplier relationship strategies. Less than a year after Cook his Apple debut, the corporation was reporting profits (fiscal year 1998)—an extraordinary shift from it's fiscal 1997 report showed a net loss of $1 billion from the prior fiscal year.

In August 2011, Cook was named Apple's new CEO, taking over the position for former CEO and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in October 2011 after a years-long battle with cancer. In addition to serving as CEO, Cook sits on the corporation's board of directors.

In May 2014, Apple announced its biggest acquisition to date when it bought Beats Music and Beats Electronics for $3 billion. As part of the deal, Beats co-founders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine would join Apple in executive roles. In a letter to Apple employees, Cook said, “This afternoon we announced that Apple is acquiring Beats Music and Beats Electronics, two fast-growing businesses which complement our product line and will help extend the Apple ecosystem in the future. Bringing our companies together paves the way for amazing developments which our customers will love.”

Following this in June 2014, at the Worldwide Developers Conference, Cook announced the latest version of the Apple operating system for desktop and mobile, OSX Yosemite. In September of the same year, Cook unveiled the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both of which have larger screen sizes and come with new features such Apple Pay and “Burst Selfies.” He also announced the first new product under his reign, a wearable device to track fitness and health, the “Apple Watch,” which will be available for purchase in 2015.

World Impact and Salary

In November 2011, Cook was named one of Forbes magazine's "World's Most Powerful People." According to an April 2012 article in The New York Times, Cook was the highest-paid CEO among large publicly traded companies in 2012. While his salary at Apple amounts to around $900,000, Cook reportedly brings in several millions of dollars annually due to other forms of compensation, including stock awards and bonuses. In 2011, Cook reportedly made $378 million in total compensation. 

In October 2014, Cook confirmed in an opinion piece he wrote for Bloomberg Businessweek that he is gay. “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” he wrote. “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

Cook also wrote that he is inspired by these words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:  “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ He explained that his decision to put his personal privacy aside and make his sexual orientation public was an important step in advocating for human rights and equality for all. 

“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others,” he wrote in the op-ed piece. “So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”

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