The bizarre campaign against Apple's Tim Cook

Posted:
in AAPL Investors edited January 2014
A snowballing new "whisper campaign" is targeting Apple's chief executive Tim Cook as being poor choice to run the company and a likely candidate for replacement in the months following its most successful quarter ever.



The latest rumor, tweeted by Doug Kass, attributed a "cooking" of Cook to an alpine gnome source. Kass gained notoriety just two months ago for making a similar prediction that Apple would split its stock, before admitting that such a split would be impossible.

Kass didn't invent the idea that the chief executive of the world's most successful, profitable public company was being targeted for removal, any more than he invented the idea that Apple could split its stock. He merely repeated an idea that's been gestating for some time.

Trouble at the top?

Last September, Apple's stock price was above $700 and analysts were anticipating it would soon pass $1000, making it the first public company ever valued at over a trillion dollars.

Tim Cook


Cook, who was hired by Steve Jobs in 1998 to turn around Apple's global operations, has been instrumental in managing the company's precision supply chain and exceptional efficiency in building and shipping products around the world that led to such a valuation.

Yet after setting new records in quarterly revenues and profits and completely revamping nearly every hardware line with new products (establishing a new world's favorite smartphone with iPhone 5 and introducing a pair of what would become the world's favorite tablets with iPad 4 and the new iPad mini) Apple found itself under new scrutiny looking for signs of impending failure and crisis.

Among the dire threats to Apple's continued survival: while Microsoft, Dell, HP, Nokia, Motorola, Palm, BlackBerry could hardly even be considered legitimate competitors anymore, there was still another company on earth selling lots of smartphones (and attempting to sell tablets): Samsung.

Also, several analysts have voiced concerns that Apple's margins might drop from twice the size of its competitors to being slightly less than twice that of the overall PC and phone industries it operates in. This might force Apple to make some adjustments to help it retain its roughly 75 percent share of the profits in the vast PC, smartphone, mobile software and media downloads markets it currently dominates. That's a task most chief executives would love to have.



Microsoft's Steve Ballmer is instead dealing with the implosion of its PC empire; BlackBerry's Thorsten Heins is similarly scrambling to claw his company back into relevance after replacing the beleaguered company's previous pair of "co-CEOs."

In the other direction, Samsung Electronics now has three chiefs after naming two new co-CEOs. One of them, JK Shin, demonstrated the new Galaxy S4 flagship before noting, "I?m not satisfied with our market share in the U.S."

Inventing crisis around Tim Cook

At this point, one might think Cook could simply go on vacation and set Apple's cash machine to run on autopilot. However, a series of targeted criticisms have named Cook as the man responsible for the failure of analysts to set reasonable expectations for his company, resulting in incredible stock slide over the past six months.

Targeted criticism of Cook first scored a hit last November, when Dan Lyons wrote the scathing article "What's it like to work for Tim Cook?" based on on comments by a man who'd never actually worked for Cook.

Lyons' article called Cook "a manager, not a leader," and frequently repeated the idea that Apple is now hated by nearly everyone, particularly its former core fans, and that it lacks a "sustainable business culture.""I've also spent the past few years writing 'articles' that were less and less interesting -- they were basically just SEO chum thrown out onto the internet in hopes of catching traffic" - Dan Lyons

A few months later, Cook's ability to lead Apple is being criticized by a variety of sources. Lyons isn't still writing about Cook however; he's now done with the "media business."

"I've also spent the past few years writing 'articles' that were less and less interesting -- they were basically just SEO chum thrown out onto the internet in hopes of catching traffic," Lyons recently complained about his miserable journalism career, following a stint mocking Apple's previous chief executive under the handle "Fake Steve Jobs.'"

There's remarkable hubris involved in describing Apple as a troubled company, saddled with the world's most popular products that it struggles to manufacture at a pace to meet demand while at the same time pulling in the greatest profit margins of any tech company. But describing Cook as a "poor fit" for leading Apple makes other criticisms of the company look downright reasonable.

Lamentable big numbers

Writing as a contributor to Forbes, career columnist Gene Marcial wrote just days ago, "there?s a move by some at the company to search for someone with credible credentials and superb tech qualifications to take over and turn things around."

Incredibly, he was writing about Apple.

The problems that need to be addressed, according to Marcial, are its incredible stock slide since last September and the loss of "some $290 billion of Apple?s market value" that "has been wiped out in just six months." Also a problem: "lamentable slowed growth."

Given that the core problem with "slowed growth" is that Apple now owns almost all of the profitable segments of the PC and phone industries, it's hard to imagine how it would be easier to find a new chief executive than to identify new markets to dominate, and why attacking the company's leadership would make any sense.

Making even less sense is Rob Enderle, who asked his readers, "Given JCPenny [sic] just ousted Apple alum Ron Johnson as CEO for losing a tiny fraction of what Cook has lost, why is Cook still CEO?"

In reality, JC Penney ousted Johnson after giving him just over a year to remake the troubled retailer, then panicking after observing a serious decline in sales and profits during the transition.

Cook hasn't presided over any loss in revenues or profits. Instead, as Cook announced just three months ago, "we?re thrilled with record revenue of over $54 billion and sales of over 75 million iOS devices in a single quarter. We?re very confident in our product pipeline as we continue to focus on innovation and making the best products in the world."

This all happened before

Enderle, parroting a variety of investors, was trying to blame Apple's stock slide on Cook, as if the chief executive sets the company's stock price. Cook's predecessor Steve Jobs once noted that it's not really the job of a chief executive to attempt to manage short term fluctuations in a company's stock.



When asked by Jim Goldman of CNBC, back in mid 2008, why Apple's stock had fallen from nearly $200 down to a low of $117 before rebounding to $185, Jobs simply replied, "I think we've done pretty well for our stockholders over the past decade, and I would just encourage them to trust us. Maybe we know what we're doing."

Asked about the "strange and bizarre roller coaster ride" that afflicted Apple back in 2008, Jobs answered, "we?ve been having record quarter after record quarter, so we?re very pleased with how the company?s doing."

Apple had just released its second model of iPhone at a new price point $200 less than the original, and had so far "only" sold 6 million units of its new smartphone. Investors at the time were reportedly worried that a cheaper price could eventually hurt Apple's revenues at some point down the road, a fear that today appears hysterical in hindsight.

Jobs added, "you know, Wall Street: I?ve never been able to figure out Wall Street. But someone once told me manage the top line, which is, your strategy, your talented people and your execution, and the bottom line will take care of itself. And I?ve always found that to be the case. So, we?re turning in record quarter after record quarter, and Wall Street eventually comes out in the right place."

Within six months of Jobs' comments, Apple stock fell to $82. A year later it was back up to $200. The next year it hit $322, then $422 the following year before peaking above $700. Apple started this year at $527.

Apple will report its quarterly results tomorrow.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 220
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Record quarter after record quarter?

    Bizarre indeed.
  • Reply 2 of 220
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member


    This guy is a douchebag and the last time that he tweeted something that came from his little crackhead gnome, he claimed that Apple was going to do a stock spilt.


     


    Some retarded people must have believed in the crackhead rumor, and the price of Apple shares quickly went up. That's probably exactly when Kass unloaded his Apple shares, after releasing that bogus rumor which turned out to be 100% untrue.

  • Reply 3 of 220


    At what point does the SEC get involved and start investigating these comments & rumors, especially ones that have no basis in reality and have drastic effects on the stock value?

  • Reply 4 of 220
    Kass is a DICK and a stock manipulator. He tweeted the split, but then went on to make millions off of HIS rumor and then said... "Why would anybody believe that?" IE Why would anyone believe me?. Complete prick. Don't believe a damn thing this douche says.
  • Reply 5 of 220
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member


    So which of the members of the board of directors could be named Interim CEO should they sack Cook?

  • Reply 6 of 220
    cash907cash907 Posts: 893member


    Well let's see: the stock has been in a relative free-fall since peaking around the release of the iPhone 5, multiple reports of sales, stock, and revenue not meeting expectations, and going on what, 8 months now without a single new product or announcement.


     


    While I feel bad for Cook in that it's true the positives outweigh the negatives, and that this wouldn't be a problem if it were any other company and not Apple, it's not any other company and it IS Apple. Fair or not, the public and the market both hold Tim and the company both to a higher standard. Frankly, the longer this slide goes on, the clearer it becomes to me that Ive should have taken the big chair, and Cook should have stayed where he was and continued on as the logistics guy. One can only wonder if that supply chain problems that have plagued the iMac line and recently the iPhone line (8 million defectives returned to Foxconn? What's that about, and who is getting fired over that screw up?) had Cook been focused on what he does best instead of trying to replicate what Jobs and to a lesser extent Ive apparently do naturally.

  • Reply 7 of 220


    This forum really needs a "thumbs-down" feature for comments.

  • Reply 8 of 220
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,362member
    "I've also spent the past few years writing 'articles' that were less and less interesting -- they were basically just SEO chum thrown out onto the internet in hopes of catching traffic" - Dan Lyons"

    You know, many of us have been saying this all along, seeing how painfully obvious it was, but I didn't expect Dan Lyons to go out and admit that his life is so despicable and pathetic. Regardless of such an individual sleeps at night, while writing vicious hit piece after vicious hit piece, I wonder what his "fans" think of this admission? You know, the fans that would link to his articles, promote them, give him credibility, and use his words as evidence unto which to attack Apple? Do they feel played, like utter fucking morons, as Lyons has come right out and admitted everything he's written has been 'SEO chum thrown out unto the internet in hopes of catching traffic"? I certainly hope they do. I also wonder what the multitude of tech blogs that constantly featured and promoted his opinion pieces (like Gizmodo) think about that? The sad thing is people like Dan Lyons can write such obvious, dishonest, drivel, make tons of money, and retain a massive fan base of foaming at the mouth apple-bashers simply because of their agenda of hate.

    Maybe now people might start to rethink how sincere all the other anti-Apple articles are? No, certainly they couldn't be "SEO chum" and cynical attempts to catch traffic also. Not a chance.
  • Reply 9 of 220
    There is nobody out there like Tim - he has my vote of confidence. There are others whom might want the job, but they will all s...
    Thank you Steve Jobs for bringing together such a great team of upper management.
  • Reply 10 of 220
    tribalogicaltribalogical Posts: 1,182member
    Rob Enderle asks, "...why is Cook still CEO?" Which forces me to ask, why is Rob Enderle still a paid "journalist"? It seems like he's just one of an army of hacks out there nowadays, literally making stuff up to fill columns and promote headlines designed to bring "clicks" and nothing resembling 'facts'...

    Yellow Journalism is real and living on the internets.
  • Reply 11 of 220
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dave MacLachlan View Post


    This forum really needs a "thumbs-down" feature for comments.



    I've been saying that for ages too.


     


    Maybe that's why I'm not on Facebook either. It creates some sort of perverse and unrealistic world where people can only give thumbs up to each other, yet you can't rate down comments that deserve to be rated down?


     


    If somebody is a dumbass or if they write something really stupid, then they should be downrated.


     


    I welcome the day when I can open this site and I see that certain comments have gotten -20 thumbdowns.

  • Reply 12 of 220
    ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member


    Apple, the only company who can get record profit quarter after quarter...yet be hammered in the stock because a handful of suppliers report supply cuts and don't meet Wall Street's expected number.  Yet still make profits like crazy.


     


    However what goes up must come down eventually.

  • Reply 13 of 220
    tribalogicaltribalogical Posts: 1,182member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    So which of the members of the board of directors could be named Interim CEO should they sack Cook?



     


    It's not even worthy of discussion since the entire notion is a false narrative to begin with.

  • Reply 14 of 220
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    No credit given to Philip Elmer deWitt for essentially writing the first version of this story?

    http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/04/22/apple-cook-whisper-campaign/
  • Reply 15 of 220
    banalltvbanalltv Posts: 238member


    Sounds more like FUD thrown out so someone somewhere can scare up some profits.


     


    Tim has my confidence, more confidence than the stocks and shares version of a gossip columnist will ever have from me.

  • Reply 16 of 220
    tribalogicaltribalogical Posts: 1,182member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    This guy is a douchebag and the last time that he tweeted something that came from his little crackhead gnome, he claimed that Apple was going to do a stock spilt.


     


    Some retarded people must have believed in the crackhead rumor, and the price of Apple shares quickly went up. That's probably exactly when Kass unloaded his Apple shares, after releasing that bogus rumor which turned out to be 100% untrue.



     


    Yeah, don't get me started about this guy… he did make a tidy sum off that fake split 'gnome whisper', by the way, then had the nerve to claim that one analyst can't influence markets. Yeah, right.


     


    I notice that the market didn't so much as twitch with his latest nonsense. The Boy Who Cried Wolf theory proves true after all?

  • Reply 17 of 220
    gijoeinlagijoeinla Posts: 215member
    Any competent stockholder MUST admit Tim Cook has done a VALIANT job all the while their growth has literally exploded and NO No way could Steve Jobs have '"managed" the company as skillfully as Cook. So many think its just about the products and cant comprehend "managing" increased production, distribution, customer support, shipping, etc etc etc. Apple has no doubt become a mangerial nightmare. Has Cook stumbled? Yes. I'd expect that after Steves loss and a vacuum effect FROM that.. wth. It clearly seems staff changes would happen -new Alphas would emerge and changes did in fact take place.. Let's wait and see the "new" Apple once the pipeline moves to market..geezus. Its a-holes like Kass whose made millions off of manipulation of the market -- the prob is that for every one these parasites there's tons more...ugh
  • Reply 18 of 220
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,167member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post


    Well let's see: the stock has been in a relative free-fall since peaking around the release of the iPhone 5, multiple reports of sales, stock, and revenue not meeting expectations, and going on what, 8 months now without a single new product or announcement.



     


    Eight months without a single new product?! How about:


     


    iPhone 5 (Sept 2012 - 7 months)


    iPod, iPod touch, iPad, iPad mini, Mac mini (Oct 2012 - 6 months)


    iMac (Nov 2012 - 5 months)


    Retina Macbook Pro update (Feb 2013 - 2 months)


     


    If you mean eight months without an event then yeah. But not every update requires an event. We might not even see an event until WWDC Keynote this Jun.

  • Reply 19 of 220
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    No credit given to Philip Elmer deWitt for essentially writing the first version of this story?

    http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/04/22/apple-cook-whisper-campaign/

    This shit shouldn't be legal.
    Apple's (AAPL) share price was down and Kass was long [on] the stock. He tweeted a rumor that the company was about to announce a split, the stock went up, he sold his shares at a profit, tweeted that the rumor was baseless and then spent the rest of the day hurling insults at his critics.
  • Reply 20 of 220
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post





    This shit shouldn't be legal.


     


    The guy should be behind bars. If not for his ridiculous pink glasses, then at least for his illegal stock manipulation, if and when found guilty.

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