Listening to Apple’s earnings call 2 days ago, I wondered how to compare Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, to Steve Jobs. Citing Apple’s plunging stock price (see below), some analysts are saying that entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs are irreplaceable.
Under Steve Jobs, Tim Cook was Apple’s COO (chief operating officer) and its temporary and then actual CEO. An Apple employee since 1998, Cook spent 12 years at IBM and was briefly at Compaq.
Explaining the Jobs approach, Silicon Valley veteran Marc Andreessen said that Steve Jobs started new product categories and targeted premium consumers. “The Apple playbook under Steve Jobs was a single playbook. He would invent a new product category, start with 100% market share, and then every day that goes by, lose market share until some terminal outcome.” Jobs once said, “It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want, ” and proved it with the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010,
By contrast, naming the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini, an Atlantic journalist says Tim Cook is responding to the market rather than shaping it. It makes sense, though, as a Slate writer points out, that if Apple had introduced a new product now, it would have been developed when Jobs was alive. Slate suggests we wait and see.
So yes, we cannot recreate entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs. But then again, as firms become more mature, won’t they need new management skills?
Sources and Resources: My favorite Jobs/Cook article was from Slate but I would also recommend looking at this CNET post. For the analyst perspective, Business Insider is always a handy resource because of the Wall Street background of its head, Henry Blodgett. Here is how Blodgett feels about Apple now and the euphoria he expressed during 2011.