2 hours Publitoritorial Book Review | Tim Cook – The Genius That Changed Apple's Future

2 hours

Book Review | Tim Cook - The Genius That Changed Apple's Future

By Luciana Zaramela

When we talk about books here at FreeGameGuide, the subject may cause some strangeness to our readers, after all, what about tech has a book? Depending on the subject, everything. And if it's eBook, everything and a little more. Intrinsic publisher provided us with a physical copy of Apple Cook's current Tim Cook biography, which tells how the CEO managed to bankroll the company when Steve Jobs was in his late days – making it the most valuable company in the world today. .

If you are a FGG reader, you already know Tim Cook and his serious yet easygoing way of doing things at Apple. But anyone who wants to know more about Apple's current leader – and understand his path to the company and how he spins the wheel – is invited to travel with Leander Kahney, the book's author and expert on related topics. the technology in this work based on excerpts from Cook's life, interviews, books, and the executive's story.

From the perspective of a journalist

Briton Leander Khaney became well known in the international tech world after joining the editorial board of Wired magazine, one of the highest rated in the industry in the United States. With a declared addiction to Apple and its products, he has written works such as The Cult of Mac, Cult of iPod and Steve Jobs' Head (the latter for sale in Brazil). Khaney has a long journey as a reporter and writer, covering mostly important Silicon Valley news and doing all his work based on technology, innovations and business in the area.

In his 2018 work, Tim Cook – Apple's future-changing genius brought to Brazil in October at the hands of the Intrinsic publisher, Khaney cast his expert reporter's eye on Cook's story, with passages referring to iconic Steve Jobs, as well as the former life of the current Apple CEO – from his childhood to the launch of the latest iPhone.

Kahney is an observant narrator who uses the first person in several passages of this Cook biography – the only one available worldwide, that is.

Who is Tim Cook that Kahney paints in the biography?

Non-fans of Apple products can clearly see Kahney's bias when it comes to Apple-related issues, not only because he has covered many of Apple's achievements closely, but because he is an avid admirer of the brand. Throughout the narrative, his image of Tim Cook is of an unpretentious genius who found himself forming an operations monster, capable of having Midas's touch wherever he went.

Since graduating from Auburn University in 1982, the Cook described throughout the book has been a brilliant, quiet, calculating, yet austere and empathetic lad. Coming from an upstate family in southern Alabama – a state known to this day for its segregationist (perhaps present) past – Cook has always been a discreet, funny guy who is very concerned about social issues. The author draws a profile of the executive as a natural observer, always willing to learn and quite firmly in his opinions. Throughout the chapters of the book, Kahney never tires of extolling the practical side of Tim Cook, trying at all costs to transform the image of an extremely methodical guy into a sympathetic and incredible leader.

Past Life: From Childhood to Apple

The country boy, born in a traditional little town with few sights and few entertainment options – which, by irony of fate, is called Mobile and is in Alabama – has always been the exemplary boy in the classroom, the high school athlete. , the chosen as a graduation speaker, the pride of the family. Religious, he had never mentioned anything about his – today – open homosexuality.

As a child, he was the typical small-town boy with short hair, clumsy but interested in physical activity, careful with his schoolwork, with friendly and fun humor. He had his first jobs well matched with other young people of the time, working as a newspaper boy and pharmacy assistant. He made the school yearbook when he graduated from elementary school.

Kahney always uses a lot of quotes throughout his narrative, with placements from people who met or met Tim before fame and who he met in the business phase. The book is permeated with reports – overwhelmingly positive – about Cook's figure and how well-liked and plural he was in the sense of being multifunctional from the arts to the exact sciences.

And it was the exact sciences that gave young Cook what he is today: in love with algebra, trigonometry, and geometry, he liked to see how processes worked. He did everything with great planning and detail, and could not bear to err.

Midas Touch

Since coming to replace Steve Jobs's energetic and eccentric presence, Tim Cook has held an unprecedented flurry. Despite having been tech giants like IBM (where he was from 1982 to 1994), Intelligent Electronics (1994), Compaq (1997) and joining Apple in a phase of very lean cows, with finances on the brink ( 1998), it was at Apple that the executive showed what he knows how to do – always in his own way, discreet, almost invisible to the public.

At IBM, where he spent 12 years, he showed his facilities for leadership. Methodical, he was always featured in the production department and even the factory administration, right at the height of the first IBM PC, while applying his appreciation for inline production and inventory elimination. Stock for him, by the way, always meant loss of space and money.

It was at IBM that he saw his opportunity to improve with an executive MBA at Duke University in the area of ​​business administration. This boomed his career because, despite thinking on his own, he always acted with people around him, whether in leadership, management, the operating sector or even in the boardrooms. Cook socialized in his own way, but he wasn't an open-minded guy. Always contained, but also always willing.

That's how he was promoted so many times in his 12 years at IBM, where, even under time and deadline pressure, he optimized IBM PC production, logistics, and deliveries and left the company by accepting a high-level position as CEO of IBM. Intelligent Electronics (IE). We'll never know, at least in this biography, the real reason that drove Cook to switch from a gigantic company that had been taking over offices and companies worldwide for a small but important provider of microcomputers and workstations in Denver, Colorado.

After being misdiagnosed with a degenerative disease, Cook was terribly scared as he headed IE operations. In fact, what she felt was the burden of an extremely busy, workaholic life, which eventually left Tim with symptoms of muscle exhaustion. It was not multiple sclerosis, as they had painted at the time, and Cook moved away, treated himself, and recovered from nothing less than stress. Upon its renewal, it implemented changes in IE and increased the company's revenues by 21% during the period there. It was he who designed the sale of the company to General Electric (GE) in 1997 for $ 136 million.

The next step was for Compaq, which grew rapidly from the 1990s through the mid-2000s, selling IBM PC clones that were constantly updated and running Windows 95 at the time. From the author's perspective, Cook also arrived and performed miracles at Compaq. It is interesting to see how this perception makes us see the executive as a savior of the country, which wherever he goes, turns crap into laurels. According to the author, this is Tim Cook's great gift. It sounds like a rip of silk, but in fact the executive had a brilliant path in the operating sectors he took over.

At Compaq, Cook was able to reduce the price of the Presario line by opting for cheaper components, which forced competition at the time to lower its prices as well. That was what was paid for the risk – and his strategies, for competence combined with factors of mere chance, were correct. At Compaq, he also chose to insert the optimized distribution model to transfer storage costs to manufacturing partners. Great shot. This is exactly what caught Steve Jobs's attention.

Here is an important parenthesis: Whenever he can, the author passes on the image of Cook as the "just-in-time (JIT) freak," which has earned the executive all the glory of an excellent operating manager. Wherever he went, he applied his practical ideology based on the principles of Henry Ford, with the premise that stock is delay and waste of time. So since working side by side with Jobs, he has transformed Apple's operating industry. There is no talk of a failure of the executive in his entire career as an impediment to move on in this work.

Steve Jobs enters the picture

How to talk about Tim Cook without quoting visionary Steve Jobs? Always ahead of his time, the man who helped create Apple alongside Steve Wozniak "went crazy", left the company, founded another and returned to Apple was hard to live with, very explosive and austere, but gave a lot right with the serene Tim Cook. And one thing that united their strategies, as opposed and singular as they seemed, was exactly that "tantrum" about inventory and the rush for timely deliveries, without letting consumers get their hands on.

Consumer in the hand, by the way, was something that Apple had as a tormentor when Cook decided to join the company in 1998. The company was on the verge of bankruptcy, and Steve Jobs had recently returned, in the condition he renamed himself iCEO ( not to mention acting CEO). The reason? By leaving Apple and founding NExT, Jobs had created a completely futuristic, fast and promising computer operating system. Microsoft was in full swing with its Windows, and Apple was sinking in the lack of innovation to pique the competition. The Macintosh needed to reinvent itself, and no one better than Steve Jobs to solve the issue.

Returning to the Apple, Jobs had to make sudden cuts, lay off many people and reduce the line of computers, which at the time had a catalog of about 40 models. He created an array of literally two by two and reduced by 10 times the number of computers Apple put on the shelves: from 40 to just 4 products. Mac OS at the time did not have well-organized licensing agreements, which eventually yielded a flood of operating system clones. The company was giving its last crack and it seemed that only a miracle could save it from the abyss.

Considered by many company executives to be a "suicide plan," Steve Jobs' strategy of cutting the product portfolio "on the stalk" and putting his personality into the company – even in the cafeteria, by the way – was the letter he had written. I had up my sleeve. Jobs put on Apple's shirt, and Apple put on Jobs's shirt. Everything was right to make the final deal, but … someone was still missing in this puzzle. That someone was Tim Cook. Watching how the operating industry wizard straightened the twisted paths of IBM and Compaq, Steve Jobs did not think twice and invited him into a conversation. Both were passionate about eliminating inventory and agile production and delivery, so chemistry was already established between them. Cook accepted Jobs's invitation and got his hands dirty.

Apple's triad of key executives was for years the same, and for years a success: Steve Jobs led with his innovative, creative and visionary profile, was a born, rebellious and incisive salesman; Tim Cook was the strategic backstage midfield with the pre-sales and operational sectors; and Jony Ive (who recently left the company) was the creative wizard who laid minimalist and futuristic lines to the products that sprang from Jobs's mind. The three pillars made Apple thrive like never before, and the book shows it very well.

Kahney seems to be very excited when he talks about Jobs, even more so than Cook himself, the book's star. In fact, Jobs was a man who gave mango cloth, and talking about him without using a good deal of spice would make no sense. Tim Cook does not have this profile, although the author tries to paint him all the time as an unforgettable hero leader.

At Apple's operating command

Convinced by Jobs, the Silicon Valley legend, Cook then took on the challenge of saving the company from limbo as chief operating officer.

Tim Cook's role, though far from the spotlight, was essential, along with Steve Jobs's audacity, to get Apple back on track. Outsourcing the assembly lines, handpicking suppliers in Asia, selling manufacturing plants in the United States, and sharing responsibility with LG in the manufacture of screens and components was Cook's master stroke to recover a bankrupt company.

He outsourced everything possible, struck a deal with SAP to manage operations with state-of-the-art ERP software, which was the nervous system of Apple's new JIT mode – from Asia to the US, and to the world. As a result, Apple once again made profits and revenues above analysts' expectations. And the highlight of this transition was the new iMac G4 – the colorful and bulky desktop computer that marked the company's history.

Foxconn joined the cake as a component supplier and assembler, Cook stepped up to manage the sales business, and the uphill slope that began in the early 2000s culminated in 2005, when he took the title of Chief Operating Officer. , one of the highest and most trusted and responsible positions within the Apple complex. This made it clear that Steve Jobs, even in the dark, was already preparing Tim Cook to be his successor.

As he took care of the backstage, Jobs was the avant-garde who put his face to the media and performed at Apple events, bringing the ideology of Think Different to the company and winning back a legion of loyal consumers. Or, as we like to call it technology: users. And so, the Macintosh was back in the game.

Leaders who thought differently

Jobs and Cook combined ideas, but were completely opposite in behavior. One was energetic, the other thoughtful. One was harsh, the other polite. One exalted easily, the other was controlled. But both were pragmatic, could not stand mistakes, and worked tirelessly.

Always emphasizing how much Cook's coolness and coolness were essential to making him an example of an operational leader, the author of the book puts him as a questioner, researcher, and perfectionist. He would ask his subordinates a thousand questions, and if one was wrong, he would ask more. In meetings, I thought more than I spoke, and when I spoke I could drop some bombs like, "This number is wrong, get out of this room now" or "What are you doing here yet?"

Steve Jobs Death and a "Hard Pinocchio Cook"

Kahney knows Tim Cook is a guy who doesn't have the shit to be in the spotlight, but he never tires of saving that quasi-unanimous view that outsiders have of the current Apple leader.

Steve Jobs knew he had cancer, but seemed to ignore the disease. Cook replaced him when he underwent a liver transplant, holding the reins of Apple cool – with Steve Jobs participating, even if by far, in major decisions. By taking back the helm of Apple, Jobs was already suffering from a new cancer, this time from pancreas, and kept saying he would beat the disease. He spent eight years with her, and unfortunately was careless enough to ignore her gravity and worked literally until he died.

Although this survival time was a miracle (since the disease usually does not live with her for two years), Jobs lost his fight against cancer in 2011, the day before the launch of the iPhone 4s. Cook felt the thud when he lost Jobs and had to turn 30 when introducing Apple's new products at Hierba Buena in San Francisco with a catastrophic performance that earned him a flood of negative comments, shareholder doubts and pejorative market reflexes. . How will Apple stand without its "irreplaceable" leader?

Anyone who has been here to see can well remember how tragic Steve Jobs's departure was and how stiff Tim Cook's performance was when he took the stage and tried to bear the brunt of so much going on over his shoulder. Tense, with a forced smile, soft talk and at the same time very nervous, he led the event and received a shower of criticism and negative comments from the specialized press, users, market analysts and anyone else you can imagine. It was not easy and the first months of 2012 brought a lot of headache for the new CEO.

First of all the guys inside Apple didn't expect Cook to take over as a "man" substitute. According to critics already predicted Apple's collapse. Introducing the iPad 3 and a modernized Apple TV to everyone was not easy, and the setbacks were just beginning. Worst of all, Android was gaining traction and Samsung had it all. What a complicated time to take on the helm, huh, Tim Cook?

There was nothing else: the stock plummeted and fell below the already skeptical prediction of Wall Street experts. Samsung has gained the spotlight. Despite all the turmoil of the year, Cook had to keep his cool so as not to freak out and fire the wrong people, focusing on restructuring strategic plans and holding the company as he could or could handle it. You ended up with services, jobs and products, like MobileMe. He hired new people, fired even more. It drifted around like the Siri fiasco, which was a fledgling artificial intelligence still wrong, and Apple Maps, which simply didn't have full maps. Cook even sent an open letter to Apple employees apologizing for the confusion during his adaptation period, including citing Apple Maps.

Now, will you say sorry? This was not welcomed by the specialized media, much less by market analysts. But it looked like Cook was asking for a stream, really.

Cook begins to change Apple's future

But the turmoil was short lived. From the moment Tim Cook takes the lead, the author conducts the work with a series of complimentary passages, quotations from coworkers, examples of articles and stories in the trade press, quarterly results, and stock market performances.

From Kahney's point of view, Cook's tactic — hitherto virtually invisible to the eyes of the media and Apple product users — was not to mirror Jobs's job, but to do his best to do it by tracing new (and different) directions to the company. Starting with philanthropy and human rights and ending with Apple's supply chain.

We realize that the journalist forces Cook's good-boy image as he attempts to counter a Venture Beat statement in which journalist Sarah Mitroff relativized Apple's philanthropic initiatives by saying that donations would be like a small drop in the company's revenue ocean, exposing China Labor Watch's problems with Foxconn in Asia. Still, he said, Cook was the light at the end of the tunnel that promised, with small changes, major transformations.

The Foxconn Scandal

And speaking of Foxconn, Apple's premier third-party component manufacturer, it was in the first year of the Cook era that the New York Times made a series of investigative reports exposing the inhumane working hours and conditions of workers to comply with just-in. time – which even led to suicides inside the factories. The scandal was quickly fanned around the world, including here at FreeGameGuide. There is no point in trying to put hot spots on a situation that was wide open and about which Apple had to explain itself to maintain its good reputation – but an excerpt from Chapter X in the Footsteps of Steve Jobs gives the impression that the Apple is immaculate: " Almost immediately Apple hired the Fair Workers Association (…) dedicated to ending the world of slavery-like work. " The job was to audit Foxconn's factories in China and clean Apple's bar with it – something that actually happened.

However, on the cases that resulted in the Foxconn scandal, the book goes well and recalls good passages, some with details, others with the views of academics, journalists and documentary filmmakers. This is, in fact, one of the most interesting chapters in the book, told in great detail.

Less Steve, More Tim

Assuming a company as valuable as Apple after the death of its legendary CEO was no easy task, and anyone who has followed the story knows the leaps and bounds that Tim Cook had to take and travel to get the numbers back on track. While some complained about the lack of innovation, others praised the firmness with which he held the reins of the corporation. Would Steve Jobs approve of the emergence of "cheaper" iPhones like the SE and 5c? That does not count, but the measure, which was heavily criticized at the time, ultimately resulted in the closing of subsequent quarters, firing in the two years after the Jobs era, thanks to a Cook agreement with China.

The book also speaks of a second scandal that occurred at the beginning of Tim's command of Apple, when rumors erupted that the company was evading taxes. Cook testified at a US Senate hearing, stating that Apple paid every penny of its taxes correctly, without tax havens, but maintaining "real operations in real places." That is, whenever a trap was imposed by fate, Cook would show a master's way out. At least that is how the book describes his tricks during most of his narrative.

From then on, the author details each of Apple's first products and software and service releases, from Mac Pro, iOS 7, and iPhone 5s to the first truly Cook-era product: Apple Watch. The author also brushes the news that the new management has brought about users' health with Apple Health monitoring applications and WWDC 2014, hiring Angela Ahrendts, partnering with IBM, Apple Pay, the "Bendgate" case. iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and some setbacks with iOS.

For us, who have been working with technology for many years and witnessed it all, participating and watching every WWDC, the scandals of Tim Cook's early management took the media bumping, and shareholders were not happy about the setbacks the company suffered. in the early years of the executive's command. In the news, the mainstream media, and the technology forums, the general comment was, "If Steve Jobs were alive, it would never have happened." This, we will never know, but what Kahney makes clear in the book is that even Tim Cook's mistakes and missteps, which generated clear negative repercussions at the time, were not enough to overshadow his heroic image of him. Jobs's successor.

The apple turned greener

If there is a positive and undeniable change that the current leader of Apple has managed to consolidate in the company was that of sustainability, linked to diversity. The book deals in detail with Tim Cook's maneuvering of factories in the face of recurring environmental problems, as Apple was constantly leading the ranks of the most polluting companies and getting into trouble with Greenpeace and environmental NGOs. .

Cook set about building renewable energy plants, eliminating materials such as PVC (carcasses) and CRT (screens), trying to reduce pollution and toxic waste left by the company, mainly in China.

The San Bernardino Case

Of course, the San Bernardino incident, in which a couple killed 14 people and left 21 others injured in December 2015, would not be left out of the book. It was the most memorable moment in Cook's management, as he was under pressure to decide something that challenged the FBI. One of the gunmen (shot down by police) left an iPhone 5c at the scene of the crime but was password protected. On the one hand, the FBI and most Americans were clamoring for justice and asking Apple to allow access to smartphone content; on the other, Apple saw all of its work placed on security and privacy in check. Apple's high-level decision was to defy the law and not provide openness even in such a sensitive case.

The upshot: Apple refused to circumvent the iPhone 5c security scheme and the FBI had to "jump in" and hire a third party to unlock the shooter's smartphone. With that, we have to agree with the author: Tim Cook hit the fly and made Apple's image of security and tamperproof raised to the "nth" power. After all, even the FBI didn't realize it. The case ended with the FBI claiming that it was able to access the sniper smartphone data, but without detailing how. The lawsuit was then filed and Cook redoubled his privacy bets after that.

Coming out of the closet

By openly stating in a Bloomberg interview that he was gay, Tim Cook surprised a lot of people in 2014. And with that, he opened the door to diversity within Apple. The book treats very naturally the whole process of diversity that Apple's boss has set up in the company and tells the difference of the work environment compared to the command of Steve Jobs. Because Cook knew what it was like to be a minority, she decided to broaden the horizons within Apple's policies.

The company has raised morale with the LGBTQ community, Cook has won the Financial Times Personality of the Year award, and Apple's trademark innovation has also extended toward equality and diversity in the company's business – though there is a good deal (the vast majority) of the staff of straight white men, you can see that the change has happened, and is happening.

Today's Apple, Tomorrow's Apple

The book does not go through the newer products as it was expected to, especially because Apple has been working with upgrades of its lines since Steve Jobs left this world. Although it is a book that talks mostly about Tim Cook, there are no details or many quotes on how the executive related, for example, to Jony Ive – Apple's chief designer who helped Steve Jobs to design the first iPhone, and who left the company recently. We also don't know what Cook's relationship is with other top Apple names like hardware chief Craig Federighi. Decisions on changes in services and products are set aside to give the narrative a more biographical footprint, teasing Tim Cook's person more than Apple. After all, while it is difficult to talk about Cook without talking about Apple, this is what the author seeks to do in much of the excerpts in which he describes him.

Since taking over the company, its market value and shares have risen to stratospheric levels. Today, Apple is the only company in the world worth $ 1 trillion. Had Steve Jobs kept the company's flagship sales until he got to the current model, the iPhone X? Or is this purely Cook's merit? Reading the book, the second option becomes obvious.

Turn and move, Apple is involved in rumors about smart cars (driverless), such as Project Titan, which comes and goes all the time. After all, what Tim Cook is planning for the next few years no one knows, much less Kahney, but the stakes that artificial intelligence will dictate new directions for the company are clear, guess that, by the way, is not difficult to risk.

The author also cites Apple Park and the company's latest smartphone model released to date, the iPhone X – which marks a decade of the industry's revolutionary phone. Incidentally, this is the product that the author devotes most space to in his book, including citing that Cook invited Phil Schiller to take the stage to show the device – which was not cheered by the public at the last Apple launch event.

About Cook, but not by Cook

It's interesting to see how Kahney managed to interview so many people linked to Tim Cook in some way, but never interviewed the executive on tète-a-tète. He always brings the views of various former classmates, neighbors, and acquaintances from school days to his present life, but never a quote comes straight from Cook.

The book can be divided into three parts. The first one brings very valuable insight into Tim Cook's values ​​and essence as a human being, as it says so much about his life as a young and first-time executive. The second and third parts of the book bring the inevitable retelling of facts that anyone familiar with Apple knows. Some snippets even look like press releases fresh from the company's Newsroom. But let's face it: It's hard to interview Tim Cook, and it's even harder to get details about his business strategy.

There is no in-depth mention of the Apple services that have come under Tim Cook's management, such as Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple TV + and the like, because the book barely focuses on products, so it's no wonder it doesn't focus. also in services, right? We also don't know from the book what Tim Cook's personal life is like today, how he relates to people outside of Apple, with whom he has affective affairs, what his family is like.

The whole narrative is easy to read – one sitting or two afternoons is enough to complete the entire 335-page book. However, all the while there is a sardine forcibly being pulled toward Cook – who is arguably an excellent leader, but would the company have gone if Jobs had chosen Jony Ive, for example? Seria ele também chamado de gênio se tivesse conduzido a Apple por mais cinco, seis, sete anos? Kahney também pouco descreve o dia a dia de Cook como líder, ou como é trabalhar recebendo suas ordens, ou ainda como ele gerencia suas equipes.

Apesar de o autor raramente apontar defeitos na forma de liderança de Cook e de enaltecê-lo do início ao fim do livro como um CEO melhor que Steve Jobs — o que nos deixa dúvidas, apesar de mostrar o quão ético, maduro e firme o atual chefe da Apple é —, o livro é rico em detalhes e é uma ótima pedida para quem gosta de conhecer melhor o histórico de grandes corporações e, sobretudo, a trajetória de grandes líderes.

Tim Cook – o gênio que mudou o futuro da Apple está à venda na Amazon. O livro está saindo de R$ 49,89 por R$ 39,89 (na data de publicação desta resenha). E quem assina Amazon Prime (R$ 9,90 ao mês), tem frete grátis. Você pode fazer seu teste por 30 dias.