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Fortune Cover: How Tim Cook is Changing Apple (by turning it into a traditional company)

This week’s Fortune Magazine cover story penned by Apple watcher Adam Lashinsky is called “How Tim Cook is Changing Apple”, and it goes pretty deep into some of the high-level changes at the top of Apple since its late CEO Steve Jobs stepped down. Through a few anecdotes and observations, he noted how Cook inevitably changed Apple’s culture, which perhaps drives the company to a more normal structure and M.O.

One paragraph will surely scare some:

Elsewhere there are signs of Apple becoming a more normal company. When Adrian Perica, a former Goldman Sachs banker, joined Apple several years ago, he was the only executive whose sole remit was dealmaking. Steve Jobs basically ran M&A for Apple. Today Perica heads a department with three corporate-development professionals under him and a staff supporting them, so that Apple can work on three deals simultaneously. Indeed, the vibe, in the words of a former employee, is of an Apple that is becoming “far more traditional,” meaning more MBAs, more process, and more structure. (In point of fact, 2,153 Apple employees reference the term “MBA” in their LinkedIn profiles out of a nonretail workforce of nearly 28,000. More than half the employees who reference “MBA” have been at Apple less than two years.)

Some other tidbits:

  • “It looks like it has become a more conservative execution engine rather than a pushing-the-envelope engineering engine,” says Max Paley, a former engineering vice president who worked at Apple for 14 years until late 2011. “I’ve been told that any meeting of significance is now always populated by project management and global-supply management,” he says. “When I was there, engineering decided what we wanted, and it was the job of product management and supply management to go get it. It shows a shift in priority.”
  • The top secret “Top 100” Meeting went down in Carmel, California this year, just as always, where Apple’s top execs shared the direction the company is going in the next year.
  • An influential tech company CEO who met recently with Cook found him to be “down to earth, noncorporate, detail-oriented, and disarming,” the latter being a frequent refrain about Cook. “He’s casual, grounded, and easy to talk to,” says this executive. “I forgot he’s the CEO of Apple. And that was not my experience with Jobs.”
  • [Cook] mentioned that he had worked at a paper mill in Alabama and an aluminum plant in Virginia
  • He often sits down randomly with employees in the cafeteria at lunchtime, whereas Jobs typically dined with design chief Jonathan Ive.
  • He vacations at the Canyon Ranch resort in Arizona, where guests who have seen him there say he keeps to himself, often dining alone, reading on his iPad.
As usual, Lashinsky’s story is a must read. If the story is not enough, check out his “Inside Apple” book.

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Avatar for Seth Weintraub Seth Weintraub

Publisher and Editorial Director of the 9to5/Electrek sites.

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