Tim Cook, the Chief Executive of Apple, spoke at the Goldman Sachs’ investor conference this past Tuesday. He not only gave light into his own position as Steve Jobs’ successor, but he also talked about his views on Apple’s $98 billion cash supply. Cook did not take this opportunity to announce a dividend, he instead used the time to explain that he doesn’t want to change the company, but he also doesn’t want to copy the past.
Tim Cook spent most of the time talking about how he views future growth opportunities for the iPad, iMac, and iPhone. Cook is ardent about the company in his own way, and knows he is obviously not Steve Jobs. He has faced some tough criticism and constant reminders of that fact since it was announced he may take over from Jobs before his demise. Tim Cook plans on using the knowledge he learned from Steve Jobs over the years to make his own unique mark on the company.
One thing he made very clear was that he takes his role of being Apple’s leader very seriously and plans on taking good care of what Jobs has created. He basically said that Apple is a one-of-a-kind company and he’s “not going to witness or prevent the slow undoing of it” because he believes deeply in what Apple stands for. He goes on to explain that Steve Jobs always emphasized to employees that the company must revolve around great products; Steve said it was better to focus on a few big things at once rather than so many that they couldn’t do extremely well with any of them.
Cook expressed his plans to keep Jobs’ standards and expectations as the center of Apple’s operations. It was very evident during his speech that he has become much more than the nerd people once thought him to be; he has developed into quite a salesman trying to convince the audience numerous times to buy an Apple TV.
It’s no secret that there are large differences between Jobs’ visions and Cook’s visions; however, they would both agree that customer satisfaction and getting the products to consumers is very important.
On the other hand, one major way Cook may differ from Jobs is in their visions of how the company’s cash and liquid assets should be handled. Since the beginning Jobs has been adamant that Apple have no large acquisitions, share or dividends buybacks. In Jobs’ mind, this move would keep the company independent and out of debt in case they hit troubled waters financially. On the other hand, Cook made it clear several times, and at Tuesday’s conference that he’s not too adamant on keeping the cash on hand or not.
Cook also took the opportunity to clear up a misconception some people have about Apple and their cash pile; more specifically that the company sits on a large pile of cash. He explained that the company “spent billions” on its acquisitions, supply chain, company infrastructure, and retail operations. He did, however, say that the company has “a lot” of money but they like to spend money as if it is their last; he also added that he believes Apple not acting “rich” is what their shareholders expect from the company. He even used the same line the company has been using for years which is the board is “in active discussions” regarding what to do with the cash. It does seem like the company means it more now than ever because Cook mentioned the “balance has risen” and the company has more cash than they “need to run the business on a daily basis”.
He ended the discussion by asking everyone for patience where their cash was concerned because the board is currently deciding what to do. For now, he will continue to run Apple Cook-style. The positive thing is that even though it’s apparent he is a product of the Steve Jobs and Apple way, he is still an independent thinker who is focused on looking ahead but not opposed to do things a little differently.