Apple chief executive Tim Cook has joined the billionaire club as the iPhone maker is poised to become the US’s first$2tn company.
Apple’s performance has so far proved to be coronavirus-proof, crushing Wall Street expectations in each of the last two quarters, and pushing the company’s market value to new peaks just below $2tn.
Cook, who took over running Apple when founder Steve Jobs stood down in 2011 due to deteriorating health, owns 847,969 shares in the company, worth about $375m (£286m) at its current stock price. Proceeds from previous share sales, dividends and other compensation add a further $650m to his net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index.
The 59-year-old has presided over a more than eight-fold increase in Apple’s share price since taking over, from about $53 in 2011 to more than $450. Apple was valued at about $350bn when Cook stepped up from chief operating officer to replace Jobs. Two years ago this month Apple became the world’s first publicly listed company to be worth $1tn.
Apple has thrived under Cook’s leadership developing devices including the iPhone X and Apple Watch, and branched into new areas including subscription music and TV.
However, Cook’s success driving Apple’s business to great heights is said to have come a price for some staff who have reportedly been “left crying” after meetings. Managers at Apple have been told to screen those in their team to ensure they are fully prepared before they meet Cook, known to be as tough as Jobs when staff fail to meet expectations.
“It is about protecting your team and protecting him,” an unnamed source told The Wall Street Journal. “You don’t waste his time. If he senses someone is insufficiently prepared, he loses his patience and says ‘next’ as he flips a page of the meeting agenda. People have left crying.”
A 4am riser, Cook is known to be a workaholic with a zealot-like dedication to Apple. Cook’s first meeting with staff the day he joined in 1998 lasted 11 hours, according to one former employee. His Friday meeting with operations and finance staff has been nicknamed “date night with Tim” because it runs well into the evening.
Joe O’Sullivan, a former Apple operations executive, said that Cook’s attention to detail meant staff meetings were often a grilling session. “The first question is: ‘Joe, how many units did we produce today? ‘It was 10,000.’ ‘What was the yield?’ ‘98 per cent.’ Then he’d say: ‘OK, so 98 per cent, explain how the two per cent failed?’ You’d think, ‘F***, I don’t know.” It drives a level of detail so everyone becomes Cook-like.”
Last week, the net worth of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg hit $100bn, making him a member of the exclusive so-called centibillionaire club, alongside Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The centibillionaires, along with other company founders such as Tesla’s Elon Musk, have such enormous net worth because they hold large stakes in their companies. By comparison Cook, who took home $125m last year, holds about a 0.02% stake in Apple.
In 2015, Cook said he planned to give away most of his fortune and has already gifted millions of dollars worth of Apple shares.