Apple CEO Tim Cook began working for the company in 1998. He was recruited by Steve Jobs from Compaq, where he was perfectly content. But Apple was persistent about Cook coming in for an interview, so Cook caved. Cook tells Charlie Rose how he wound up at Apple.
During his one-on-one meeting with Jobs, Cook learned about the company’s desire to enter the consumer space. Jobs also described a wonder computer Apple was working on but hadn’t yet released, the iMac. The iMac was the first hit product Jobs launched when he returned as Apple’s CEO in 1997. It’s been credited for helping turn around the entire company after Apple nearly went bankrupt in the 90s.
Cook also felt like he and Jobs would work well together, so he followed his gut and went to work for Apple.
“All of a sudden I thought, ‘I’m doing it. I’m going for it,'” Cook tells Rose. “And you have this voice in your ear that says, ‘Go west young man, go west.'”
How Jobs convinced him to join Apple in a recent interview:
Charlie Rose: I mentioned at the beginning interview, the fact, when you made a decision in 1998 about Apple you had some reservations. But at the same time, during your interview with Steve, you said, something like this, I was prepared within five minutes to throw caution to the wind. What did he say that made you believe this company is the place for Tim Cook?
Tim Cook: It was an interesting meeting. I had gotten a call several times from the search people that he had employed. And I said no, I was at Compaq, I was happy and, or thought I was. And they were persistent. And so I finally thought, I’m going to go out and take the meeting. Steve created the whole industry that I’m in, I’d love to meet him. And so I’m honestly going into the meeting.
CR: There’s no downside of this.
TC: Well I’m just thinking I’m going to meet him and all of a sudden he’s talking about his strategy and his vision, and what he was doing was going 100 per cent into consumer. When everybody else in the industry had decided you couldn’t make any money on consumers so they were headed to services and storage and enterprise. And I thought, I’d always thought that following the herd was not a good thing, that it was a terrible thing to do right? You’re either going to lose big, or lose, but those are the two options. He was doing something totally different.
And he told me a little about the design, enough to get me really interested. And he was describing what later would be called the iMac. And the way that he talked, and the way the chemistry was in the room, it was just he and I. And I could tell, I can work with him.
And I looked at the problems Apple had, and I thought you know, I can make a contribution here. And working with him, and this is a privilege of a lifetime. And so all of a sudden I thought, I ‘m doing it. I’m going for it. And you have this voice in your ear that says go west young man, go west. I was young at the time. But you know, you come back and you try to do the things that people do with spreadsheets and stuff, and none of it makes sense. It didn’t make sense. And yet, my gut said, go for it. And I listened to my gut. There was literally no one around me that was inviting doing it.