Apple's new CEO: Who is Tim Cook?

Tim Cook, the hand-picked successor of Steve Jobs, is Apple's new CEO. Who is he, and what might the post-Jobs Apple look like?

Tim Cook will take the lead at Apple, now that Steve Jobs has stepped down as CEO.

There’s no denying that with his departure from day-to-day management of Apple, Steve Jobs is leaving some pretty big shoes to fill. Apple’s Board of Directors has already named Tim Cook, formerly the company’s Chief Operating Officer, as Jobs’s replacement. But Apple stock took a hit of about 5 percent immediately following the announcement, indicating that at least some people are concerned about how well the world’s most valuable technology company will fare without His Steveness at the helm. Who is Cook, and can he maintain Apple’s magic?

Apple fans probably have nothing to worry about – every indication is that Cook will be a successful, even brilliant, CEO. For starters, Jobs hand-picked him as his successor, and Cook has been successfully running the day-to-day operations of the company since January, when his boss took a leave of absence for health reasons. He also steered the company for several months in 2004 and again in 2009 while Jobs underwent surgery (and was so successful that he was awarded a $5 million bonus following Jobs’s return in March 2009).

Profiles of Cook and Jobs paint a picture of Jobs as the company’s innovative guru, and Cook as an organizational wizard. Portfolio described him Thursday as a “financial genius … largely responsible for the company’s huge profit margins.” Back in January, when Steve Jobs took his leave of absence, MG Siegler at TechCrunch noted, “A hugely underrated part of what makes Apple Apple is how well they’re able to manage their supply chains and inventory. That is all Cook.” And Michael Grothaus over at TUAW writes, “Tim Cook is a person who has confidence in his position as a leader, sans ego … the post-Steve Jobs Apple [will] be fine.”

Cook has been with Apple since 1998 – in fact, he was recruited just after Jobs returned to the helm and the company went from being nearly bankrupt to being the most valuable technology company in the world. Cook started as senior vice president of Operations; before joining Apple, he worked in operations at Compaq, had a brief stint at Intelligent Electronics, and spent 12 years in several positions at IBM, including heading the company’s manufacturing and distribution divisions.

So if you were worried that Jobs’s departure meant you’d never see another innovative, disruptive product come out of Cupertino – another iPhone or Mac – you can probably rest easy. For his part, Cook began his tenure as CEO on Thursday by issuing a memo assuring Apple’s employees, “I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that – it is in our DNA.” All indications are that Cook is ready to take the reins from Jobs and build on the empire he’s created.

Are you excited about Cook’s promotion? Worried about what this means for Apple’s future? Nostalgic for the time Steve unveiled the Bondi Blue iMac? Sound off in the comments.

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