Apple's COO Jeff Williams is unsurprisingly more like Cook than Jobs

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 22
Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams has been touted as being very similar to CEO Tim Cook in terms of his management style in a profile article, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody. Despite claims that he is being groomed to replace Cook, it is unlikely he will be taking over as the company chief anytime soon.

Apple COO Jeff Williams (left), CEO Tim Cook
Apple COO Jeff Williams (left), CEO Tim Cook


Prompted by the sudden announcement Chief Design Officer Jony Ive was departing and would be replaced by other design chiefs reporting to Williams, the profile by Bloomberg spoke to anonymous sources identified as "several current and former colleagues" to closely examine Williams.

The "second-most important person at Apple and Tim Cook's heir apparent as CEO," the article states, it is outlined Williams is similar to Cook in many ways, as a "paragon of operational efficiency and even temper." The sources claim Williams is a "modest, disciplined, demanding leader in the current CEO's style," handling negotiations with suppliers and being a "bit more hands-on with product development than Cook."

The story doesn't really break new ground about Williams, as it is quite unsurprising that Williams is similar to Cook in many ways. The two men are close in age, with Williams 56 to Cook's 58, were raised in the American South, secured MBAs from Duke University, and spent comparable amounts of time at IBM before arriving at Apple.

Williams is also serving as COO, the same role Tim Cook was in before becoming CEO, and has spent his tenure at Apple working to bring the Apple Watch to fruition and to steadily grow as a product, among other areas.

"Within Apple, Williams is broadly regarded as a strong choice for the top job, and current and former colleagues say management had been steadily positioning him as such long before Ive's departure," the article muses.

In terms of working style, Williams is painted as being close to Cook in how he carries himself. "The COO, also like his boss, has a knack for watching, listening, and asking sharp questions," the article suggests, with a former Apple executive alleging Williams is attempting to use the same language as engineers in his conversations, "though he can be self-deprecating about his technical expertise."

"He's the closest thing at the company to Tim Cook and you'll get more of that," a former executive is quoted. "If you think Cook is doing a good job, then it's a good choice."

Succession plan, not a replacement one

Every company has a discrete "chain of command." Should something untimely happen to Cook, much as it did to CEO Steve Jobs, somebody would have to take control immediately. Williams is clearly that person.

As second-in-command, Williams is the obvious choice of being the replacement Cook if that time comes. That's how succession plans work. Williams' position in the role is likely due to a few reasons, including how his similarity to Cook allows the CEO to intimately know how the COO will make decisions and function overall.

And, a man promoted to Chief Operating Officer acting as as good Chief Operating Officer, and mirroring the performance of the previous COO -- Cook -- shouldn't be a big shock.

Being similar to Cook also means that Williams is able to more easily slip into the position of CEO without any major change in how Apple is run as a whole. The relatively smaller management style change from Cook to Williams than from former CEO Steve Jobs to Cook may put shareholders at more ease, as it is more likely Apple will continue along its current trajectory without enduring any sudden changes from the person at the top.

Even with the mentions of being the heir apparent, there isn't any indication that Williams will take the CEO role anytime soon. If anything, Williams is the current emergency option if Cook were to suddenly become unable to continue in his position, and it is likely to be years before there's the smallest suggestion Cook would be on the way out of the company.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    That’s what I’ve been trying to say. 

    Keep the dude out of the design labs please. He isn’t fixing any morale issues. He’s making it worse. 

    And no he wont be the next ceo. He’d be the next John sculley. 
  • Reply 2 of 12
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,244member
    That’s what I’ve been trying to say. 

    Keep the dude out of the design labs please. He isn’t fixing any morale issues. He’s making it worse. 

    And no he wont be the next ceo. He’d be the next John sculley. 
    You literally have zero idea if any of that is true. You don't work there, you don't have friends close to any of these people or those they manage, and you only read rumors that are third-hand or more at best. Zero idea.

    If you read the article, it is clear they have staged Williams as a replacement in case there is a premature departure of Cook, and not necessarily as a successor to Cook when he naturally retires as that is likely to be very far down the road and they're the same age.

    As for product, it's also clear Williams has much more experience building & leading successful products, from dev to deployment. See Watch. Sculley had none of that experience, he was a soda salesman. 
    edited July 22 doctwelvetenthousandthingsmuthuk_vanalingamradarthekatgutengelAppleExposedtmaymacplusplusfastasleeprepressthis
  • Reply 3 of 12
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,147member
    That’s what I’ve been trying to say. 

    Keep the dude out of the design labs please. He isn’t fixing any morale issues. He’s making it worse. 

    And no he wont be the next ceo. He’d be the next John sculley. 
    Who Jeff Williams? How would you know? Do you know people inside the company telling you so? Because any time Jeff Williams is on stage he gets huge applause. My impression is he and Craig Federighi are very well liked in the company. Even this Bloomberg piece doesn’t say anything about Williams not being liked in the company. It’s mostly a weak story padded by the same old he’s an operations guy like Cook tripe.
    doctwelvegutengeltmayfastasleeprepressthiswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 12
    I guess this fall we will see what kind of shakeup or leadership changes there might be depending on the public reception of whatever new devices are released. 

    One of the most difficult things is turning on a dime for a company the size of Apple. If this month’s quarterly earnings report is disappointing, then they better have a good plan for this years new iPhone. 

    You can tell they are a little spooked by how quickly they have updated almost every other product this year, when in the past, they ignored other products aging and concentrated on the iPhone. They’re pushing AppleCare hard to try to make up the lost iPhone revenue which goes to show how worried they are. 

    They should do what Jobs did. Ignore Wall Street and concentrate on making awesome products, not just small revisions on existing hardware. They might have to cut profit margins initially to get new technology in customers hands. 
    muthuk_vanalingamAppleExposedSanctum1972entropys
  • Reply 5 of 12
    cpenzonecpenzone Posts: 90member
    Yes, Chief OPERATING Officer
    AppleExposed
  • Reply 6 of 12
    Cook and Williams are talented men doing a great job over there. They still have an incredible team of devoted designers without Ive. I believe Apple has a strong future. And, indeed, Cook surely won’t leave any time soon. 
    AppleExposedviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 12
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,832member
    You can tell they are a little spooked by how quickly they have updated almost every other product this year, when in the past, they ignored other products aging and concentrated on the iPhone. They’re pushing AppleCare hard to try to make up the lost iPhone revenue which goes to show how worried they are. 

    No one could possibly imagine, or at least you can't, the correlation of Apple's facilities expansion, increasing headcount, and "how quickly they have updated almost every other product this year".
    king editor the gratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 12
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,376unconfirmed, member
    I'm not gonna claim I know the guy but TO ME he seems too complicated for Apple but very visionary.

    ECG and Watch are a great example of visionary but it seems every year Apples UIs get more complicated.

    Of course the iPod didn't have an ECG feature and send texts but I think automating more features will make Apples products more simple. Siri may play a big role in this.

    My opinion. I also know the Watch battery life is a deterrence to innovative features and automation.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 12
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,376unconfirmed, member

    You can tell they are a little spooked by how quickly they have updated almost every other product this year, when in the past, they ignored other products aging and concentrated on the iPhone. They’re pushing AppleCare hard to try to make up the lost iPhone revenue which goes to show how worried they are. 

    They should do what Jobs did. Ignore Wall Street and concentrate on making awesome products, not just small revisions on existing hardware. They might have to cut profit margins initially to get new technology in customers hands. 

    Speculation, speculation.

    I doubt they rushed their products this year and Apple never gave a sh** about Wall Street.

    Reminds me of the people who claimed Apple rushed HomePod to compete with Alexa then it was later revealed HomePod was in development years before Alexa.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 12
    Jeff had better watch out! People touted Scott as the next CEO and he was out of the Company. Next, people thought Angela would be the next CEO and she's out as well!
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 12
    "Apple's COO Jeff Williams is unsurprisingly more like Cook than Jobs" Emmm yes, one chief operation officer is similar in management style to another chief operation officer, and is quite different from a start-up entrepreneur. In other news, a chief operation officer won't be promoted to CEO because that company already has a CEO and someone has to manage operations. Are you telling me that both Bloomberg and Appleinsider made a full-blown article from these news?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 12
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,756administrator
    not_anton said:
    "Apple's COO Jeff Williams is unsurprisingly more like Cook than Jobs" Emmm yes, one chief operation officer is similar in management style to another chief operation officer, and is quite different from a start-up entrepreneur. In other news, a chief operation officer won't be promoted to CEO because that company already has a CEO and someone has to manage operations. Are you telling me that both Bloomberg and Appleinsider made a full-blown article from these news?
    This is an editorial, so yes, we did.
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