In 2020, Apple CEO Tim Cook finally joined many noted fellow tech executives in the billionaire club. Looking at the ranks he is joining, which include moguls like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk, it becomes apparent why Cook is one of the last of the major tech executives to reach the milestone. His story is far different from that of the many founders-turned-tycoons; Cook was hand-picked by Apple’s figurehead, the enigmatic Steve Jobs, to help orchestrate the company’s extraordinary comeback.
With the aid of Cook’s overhaul of the company’s manufacturing and distribution, Jobs realized his vision and led a personal computing revolution. Over twenty years later, Cook leads a global technology superpower that comfortably sits in the top 5 of the Fortune 500, and though the company has grown exponentially, the CEO has made his wealth slowly and steadily.
It is with a measure of calculation and restraint that Cook has steered Apple in his time as the top executive, eschewing the founder’s penchant for wild innovation in favor of a focus on maintaining market dominance. That steadiness has led the company to a record-setting $2 trillion market capitalization, a maintained handle on the smartphone market, and nearly 500% stock growth.
Although Apple made its name selling iconic hardware products, its continued success under Cook is thanks to two of the most utilized software services in the world: its signature operating systems, especially iOS, and iCloud. Under Cook’s leadership, Apple has also had a successful foray into the content, finance, and healthcare services markets. For example, with its CareKit and ResearchKit offerings, healthcare organizations and researchers can develop unique apps and tools to better serve patients. With over a billion users worldwide, the juggernaut continues to innovate with popular services like its App Store, which is responsible for over $500 billion in company revenue. To remain competitive and maintain the company’s substantial growth, it seems Apple and Cook’s strategy may continue include increased emphasis on software services.
As Apple’s stock ceaselessly grows, Cook has earned a generous return on the shares he received upon his promotion, and his personal prosperity is tethered to the company’s success. As new tech giants have arisen around Apple, the CEO has used his platform to advocate for privacy, environmental concerns, and charitable causes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cook diverted company resources to the production of PPE for first responders, and the company intends on making financial donations as well. With his eyes fixed upward and onward, Cook has made his mark, and his fortune, at his own pace.