March 31, 2015

Apple’s CEO Warn About Discrimination Sweeping the World

A local television station captured an awkward moment afterward between Cook and the Republican governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, who audibly took umbrage at Cook’s comments. Don Logan, an Alabamian who is a former CEO of Time Inc. (Fortune’s owner), was in the audience at the state capitol in Montgomery. “Tim is a very courageous guy,” says Logan, a fellow Auburn University alum, who notes that the state legislature had only recently passed a bill to not allow gay marriage. “He knew he was speaking into the wind and that most people in the room didn’t agree with him.”
A few days later Cook announced publicly, in an essay in Bloomberg Businessweek, that he is gay. With no further comment from him or Apple, the disclosure set off a media frenzy, most of it favorable. Looking back, he says that he primarily acted out of concern for kids who were bullied at school, some to the point of suicide, and because of the many states that still allow employers to fire workers over their sexual orientation. Also, whereas U.S. courts were moving surprisingly quickly on the issue, “I didn’t feel like business was exactly leading the way in the executive suite.”

Tim Cook, Apple CEO photographed in Cupertino, CA. March 2015
“I’m not running for office. I don’t need your vote. I have to feel myself doing what’s right. If I’m the arbiter of that,” says Cook, rather than worrying about what critics say about his decisions, “then I think that’s a much better way to live.”Courtesy of Apple

Cook says that he’d come to the decision of coming out “quite some time ago” and that his announcement was viewed internally at Apple, where his sexual orientation was more or less well known, as a “yawner.” Speaking out so publicly was a big step for Cook, though, who has described himself as intensely private and who is rare among big-company CEOs for being genuinely ill at ease talking about himself. “To be honest, if I would not have come to the conclusion that it would likely help other people, I would have never done it,” he says. “There’s no joy in me putting my life in view.” Referencing the often-cited line that “to whom much is given, much is required,” Cook says, “I’ve certainly been given a lot.”
The move made Cook famous for more than being the person running Steve Jobs’ company. Mike Sullivan is a San Francisco lawyer with the global law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman who advises startup technology companies. Like Cook, he views his sexual orientation as a point of pride and affiliation but something that doesn’t define him professionally. “We have 500 CEOs in the Fortune 500 out there, and I can guarantee you some of them are gay,” he says. “The message Tim sent is, ‘It’s okay to be yourself. You don’t have to lead with it. But you don’t have to hide it either.’ ”
Cook has become so ubiquitous that it’s tough to remember when he wasn’t so visible. On an early March trip to Europe he huddled in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and in Brussels with Andrus Ansip, the former Prime Minister of Estonia and now the European Commission’s top regulator on digital issues. He is featured in a new book by the former Fortune journalists Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, who report that Cook offered Jobs a piece of his healthy liver for a transplant. (Jobs turned him down.) In March, Cook even phoned in to a surprised—and delighted—Jim Cramer during a live airing of the 10th anniversary of the broadcaster’s financial shoutfest on CNBC.
Representing their companies publicly is obligatory for CEOs, but Cook takes public stands on issues including stopping the transmission of AIDS, human rights, and immigration reform. He sees them as opportunities for leadership. “You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change,” he says, adding that Apple’s people have long cared about such issues even if they haven’t previously spoken so openly about them. To Cook, changing the world always has been higher on Apple’s agenda than making money. He plans to give away all his wealth, after providing for the college education of his 10-year-old nephew. There should be plenty left over to fund philanthropic projects. Cook’s net worth, based on his holdings of Apple stock, is currently about $120 million. He also holds restricted stock worth $665 million if it were to be fully vested. Cook says that he has already begun donating money quietly, but that he plans to take time to develop a systematic approach to philanthropy rather than simply writing checks.
An irony of Cook’s Apple is that the company is becoming visibly more open under its guarded CEO than it was under the publicity-savvy demigod who ran Apple before him. Whereas Jobs severely restricted interactions between all his employees and the press, Cook has ushered in a period of glasnost with the news media. It is highly unlikely that Jobs would have tolerated, for example, The New Yorker’s recent 16,000-word profile of Jony Ive, Apple’s chief designer. Cook says such exposure is part of his plan. “My objective is to raise the public profile of several of the folks on the executive team, and others as well. Because I think that’s good for Apple at the end of the day.”
The new openness serves two purposes. First, it ensures that the world continues to talk about Apple. Granting a longer leash to executives with healthy egos also is a valuable retention tool. “A true coach is happy with his star players getting media time,” says Gassée, the ex-Apple executive. “Tim Cook is a true impresario who takes care of his prime donne. As long as the box office is good, the impresario will do that.”
Building for the Future
Tim cook is standing atop a giant mountain of dirt. He has come to tour the construction site in Cupertino that by the end of 2016, if all goes as planned, will be Apple’s new corporate campus. The dirt has been excavated from the massive pit below, and the pile is just about eye level with where the rooftop will be over the four-story, ringed building that will soon rise here. The building’s doughnut-shaped design has sparked many comparisons to a spaceship. Looking down as trucks and workers scurry to and fro, Cook begins to talk about one of the subjects that really gets him going: where people work. It always amazes him, he says, how drab workspaces are in metropolitan office skyscrapers. Apple’s new home will not be like that. “It shouldn’t be a place that doesn’t turn on your creative juices,” he says, musing about how future college recruits will feel when they first visit. Visible in the distance are Apple’s existing Cupertino campus, downtown San Jose, and Levi’s Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers play and which, incidentally, would fit into the 30-acre park that will be at the center of the main spaceship building.

Apple construction, new corporate campus. Cupertino, CA
The building site of what will be Apple’s new corporate campus, photographed March 3, 2015. Cook calls the high-tech complex “the mother of all products.”Courtesy of Apple

Steve Jobs spent a considerable amount of the last two years of his life planning the campus, including hiring the British architect Norman Foster to design it. Everything about the site is large scale, and Cook, a numbers man, can recite most of the figures by heart. The main building itself will be 2.8 million square feet and will house 13,000 employees. About 2,000 more workers will fill up adjacent buildings on the site, which will include a 100,000-square-foot fitness and wellness center, a café that will serve 15,000 lunches a day, and more than 8,000 trees, all native to the Santa Clara Valley.
Cook visits the work site periodically
—including twice already with Apple’s board—and he exhibits an engineer’s glee at watching the 22 construction cranes that dot the landscape. He says Apple hasn’t decided yet exactly what it will call “Apple Campus 2,” the current internal designation. Some naming element of the buildings or the entire locale will almost certainly include an homage to Jobs, depending on his family’s wishes, says Cook. 
On a 90-minute tour of the site, Cook dishes out details of the campus, which he calls “the mother of all products.” For instance, Apple is investing in cutting-edge technology to manage tasks as mundane as parking. A system of sensors and apps will play traffic cop for employees as they enter the facility, eliminating the fuel-wasting hunt for a parking place. Just as it has done for its retail stores, Apple has built entire mockups of wings of the building to see how they look—and then torn them down. As to why Apple isn’t building higher than four stories, the same height as its existing campus, Cook says, “When we mocked up five we didn’t like the looks of it.” He is particularly excited about the mostly below-ground, 1,000-seat auditorium in the southeast corner of the campus, which will be the company’s new site for all its public presentations other than its annual developers conference. “No more scheduling months ahead of time around other people’s schedules,” says Cook enthusiastically.
In talking about the new campus, Cook is particularly ornery about one label for it. “I hate the word ‘headquarters,’ ” he says. “There’s real work going on here. It isn’t overhead, and we’re not bureaucrats.” Indeed, among Apple’s employees there is considerable speculation as to which groups will be assigned to the new building—and which will be relegated to the existing real estate. “We’ve decided three times,” says Cook. “And we’ll probably decide it three times more.”
On the drive back to Cook’s current office at 1 Infinite Loop, his Apple Watch emits a chiming sound that sounds like the ding! from a symphonic triangle. Cook is wearing the entry-level Sport version of the watch, with a white plastic wristband. It’s the first time in nearly two hours that he’s received a notification, and he says it’s a text message from his assistant that Al Gore, an Apple board member, would like to speak with him. 
The electronic interruption doesn’t require Cook to extract his iPhone from his pocket, one of the key attributes Apple believes will drive adoption of the watch. It does give him an opportunity to show off some of the watch’s features, including the iconic Mickey Mouse watch face, cleverly updated so that the Disney mascot cheerfully taps his feet at the rate of one per second. A self-described fitness nut, Cook proudly shows off his daily physical activity as measured by the watch. So far he has clocked 50 minutes of exercise and has traveled 8,139 steps, or about four miles. An early riser, he has been on his feet for 12 hours, and it’s not quite 3:30 p.m. His workday, and his job leading Apple, are far from over.
 This story is from the April 1, 2015 issue of Fortune. It originally stated that the Siri product launch occurred days after Steve Jobs died. The event was the day before his death.

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