Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook turns 63 today (Nov. 1). The longtime leader of the iPhone maker is best known as the successor to Steve Jobs, but over his decade-long running of Apple, some have recognized him as a better manager than Jobs. Under Cook’s reign, Apple’s annual sales nearly quadrupled from $108 billion in 2011 to $394 billion in 2022 and maintained its status as the world’s largest company by market cap.
This year marks Cook’s 25th anniversary working at Apple and 12th as its CEO. Before taking the helm, Cook oversaw the company’s global supply chain for more than a decade and was widely credited for building up its manufacturing network in Asia from scratch. Outside Apple, Cook serves on the boards of Nike and the National Football Foundation. He is also a trustee of Duke University, his alma mater.
Career and relationship with Steve Jobs
Cook was born in 1960 and grew up in a working-class family in Mobile, Alabama. He graduated from Auburn University in 1982 with a degree in industrial engineering. He earned an MBA from Duke University in 1988 while working at IBM’s personal computer division, where he eventually rose to director of North American fulfillment.
In 1998, Cook was poached by Jobs, then Apple CEO, while working at Compaq, a computer company. He joined Apple the same year as an executive to oversea the company’s international operation. During a commencement speech for Auburn University in 2010, Cook said he accepted Jobs’ invitation to join then-struggling Apple within minutes against his best judgment.
“On that day in early 1998, I listened to my intuition, not the left side of my brain or for that matter even the people who knew me best,” Cook said. “My intuition already knew that joining Apple was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work for the creative genius and to be on the executive team that could resurrect a great American company.”
Cook had a close relationship with Jobs and regularly pays tributes to the late Apple cofounder at social events.
A rare self-made billionaire
Cook is one of the highest-paid CEOs in the world. In 2022, he earned $99.4 million in salary, bonuses and stock awards. His base salary is $3 million. Cook made nearly as much in 2021, which was a 500 percent jump from the previous year, thanks to the vesting of a stock plan awarded to him in 2011 when he was promoted to CEO.
Cook’s net worth is estimated at $1.8 billion, according to Forbes, a rare status achieved by a CEO who doesn’t have founding shares in the company he runs. Cook accumulated a large stake in Apple shares through his compensation package over his long tenure at the company.
The first Fortune 500 CEO to publicly come out
Cook is openly homosexual. In 2014, he became the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to publicly come out as gay. “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,” he wrote in his coming-out essay published by Bloomberg in October 2014.
Cook is also a fitness enthusiast but works out at an off-campus gym, away from his colleagues. Beyond that, little is known about his personal life. The CEO is famously a workaholic. He regularly sends work emails at 3:45 a.m., runs weekly meetings for five hours at times, and barely has a social life.
Jobs was once so worried about Cook’s work-life balance that he called up his mother to discuss whether they should get him into a relationship, Jobs’ 2015 biography Becoming Steve Jobs revealed.
Tim Cook’s top quotes on innovation, career and life:
- “The sidelines are not where you want to live your life. The world needs you in the arena.”—2015 commencement speech at George Washington University
- “There are times in all of our lives when a reliance on gut or intuition just seems more appropriate—when a particular course of action just feels right. And interestingly I’ve discovered it’s in facing life’s most important decisions that intuition seems the most indispensable to getting it right.”—2010 commencement speech at Auburn University
- “It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.”—2014 essay on being gay
- “Today, certain algorithms pull toward you things that you already know, believe or like. And they push away everything else. Push back! It shouldn’t be this way.”—2019 commencement speech at Tulane University
- “Some people see innovation as change, but we have never really seen it like that. It’s making things better.”—2013 interview with Bloomberg