Tim Cook Taking Over For Steve Jobs During Leave Of Absence

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Steve Jobs announced in his letter to Apple staff Wednesday afternoon that Tim Cook will take over the company's day-to-day operations while he steps down on medical leave:

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple's day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

CAN COOK BRING THE MAGIC?

Silicon Alley Insider writes that even though Tim Cook is a very capable businessman, nobody's Steve Jobs. Here's what that means to them:

* To keep Apple's product magic alive, Cook will need to surround himself with people like Jonathan Ive, Apple's head of industrial design.

* Even if the very competent Cook is the one who eventually takes over, the "Steve Jobs premium" in Apple's stock will disappear.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Tim Cook has tried to keep a low profile, but that he's taken over for Jobs before, and may now be willing and able to come out of his shell:

In October 2006, the Journal's Nick Wingfield profiled Mr. Cook, an Alabama native (and War Eagle fan) who worked at Compaq and IBM before joining Apple. He's been COO since October 2005.

He declined comment on that article and by most accounts is relatively under the radar at Apple. But a former exec called him "the story behind the story," and he's taken over for Mr. Jobs before, when the CEO was recovering from pancreatic cancer surgery.

FORECASTING COOK'S RISE

Fortune had reported that Tim Cook was one of 11 people potentially in the running to succeed Jobs as the new Apple CEO, back in June of 2008.

Cook, 47, probably has more direct line responsibility that anyone in the company -- even Jobs. Not only is he head of the resurgent Mac division, but he's responsible, as his official bio puts it, "for all of the company's worldwide sales and operations, including end-to-end management of Apple's supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries."

Later, Tim Cook graced the cover of the magazine and was labeled "the genius behind Steve Jobs:"

"Come on, replace Steve? No. He's irreplaceable," Cook said recently, according to a person who knows him well. "That's something people have to get over. I see Steve there with gray hair in his 70s, long after I'm retired."

Though he is highly regarded as a business-operations maestro, few people outside of Apple have any sense of whether Cook (who, for the record, turns 48 in November and is a fitness nut) would be a good chief executive, much less a suitable replacement for Steve Jobs. Even careful Apple watchers don't quite know what to think.

"By default Tim Cook would be the logical guy," says Toni Sacconaghi, an influential Apple analyst at brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein. "Yet that hasn't been spelled out. And the stakes are just higher at Apple, because Steve is larger than life, and Tim isn't a known quantity."

TIM COOK BIOS

From Apple's bio for Tim Cook:

Timothy D. Cook is Apple's chief operating officer and reports to Apple's CEO. Cook is responsible for all of the company's worldwide sales and operations, including end-to-end management of Apple's supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries. He also heads Apple's Macintosh division and plays a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships, ensuring flexibility in response to an increasingly demanding marketplace.

From Forbes' bio for Tim Cook:

Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Cook was Vice President, Corporate Materials for Compaq Computer Corporation ("Compaq"). Previous to his work at Compaq, Mr. Cook was the Chief Operating Officer of the Reseller Division at Intelligent Electronics. Mr. Cook also spent 12 years with IBM, most recently as Director of North American Fulfillment. Mr. Cook also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Nike, Inc.

Around the Web

Apple - Press Info - Bios - Timothy D. Cook

Timothy D. Cook - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Timothy D. Cook Profile - Forbes.com

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