What happened to TheStreet’s Tim-Cook-must-go campaign?

September 24, 2014, 4:20 PM UTC

When calls on Wall Street for Tim Cook’s head reached a fever pitch in the spring of 2013, Rocco Pendola, writing for TheStreet, was in the thick of it.

He’d been urging Apple to oust its CEO since Oct. 10, 2012 — one year and five days after Steve Jobs’ death — starting with this punchy, if indelicate, headline:

If Steve Jobs Were Alive, He Would Fire Tim Cook

Pendola returned to the theme — along with Doug Kass, a small hedge fund manager who had a large presence on CNBC that spring — at least eight times in the next year and a half:


“If Steve Jobs were alive,” he told CNN‘s Jake Tapper in January 2013 (see below), “he would strangle Tim Cook.”

Pendola, a former sports talk radio phenom who reinvented himself energetically on Seeking Alpha (720 items in 21 months) before coming to TheStreet, was conducting a small scale media vendetta — the kind of thing that went out of style in the mainstream press with William Randolph Hearst, but which feels right at home on a site like TheStreet.

Jim-Cramer-733045TheStreet is one of a new breed of online news outlets that occupy the intersection of business journalism, entertainment and high-frequency trading. It was co-founded by Jim Cramer, a Harvard- and Goldman Sachs-trained hedge fund manager and host of Mad Money on CNBC, where he plays the fool — with bells and horns — five nights a week.

TheStreet is not, as Pendola was to prove earlier this year, hobbled by foolish consistencies. By May the man who led the charge against Tim Cook abruptly changed his tune.

Pendola, it turns out, is a radio and music guy at heart, and the day Apple acquired Beats — along with Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre — he posted two items with a new attitude:


Pendola is back at Seeking Alpha now, writing pieces like Tuesday’s Apple’s Next Billion-Dollar Business. He left TheStreet earlier this month under circumstances he declined to discuss, except to tweet that, for the record, he resigned.

But he was willing to talk about his revisionist take on Tim Cook. “I’m not afraid to be wrong,” he says, “or get called out.”

I think the first thing to understand is that I have never viewed myself as a traditional journalist,” he begins. [The term he prefers is “financial media personality.”]

“I have never claimed objectivity or approach what I write about without the influence of emotion. In this case, my emotion as a consumer and fan of Apple.

“When Cook took over for Jobs I was truly concerned as an Apple fan. Scrutiny was warranted. You don’t take over the most high profile CEO gig in the world and get a free pass. You should be scrutinized, even if unfairly at times. Cook needed to pass this test of time.

“He passed the test. And he probably has done a better job than Jobs ever did of articulating what Apple is.”

Pendola adds that his perspective on the company has also changed:

“Over the last year or two I have gone away from writing about stocks and more about companies. When you approach a company with the stock in the forefront of your mind, you have different expectations. You’re more concerned with how will the quarter go down. But when you analyze the company first and look at how things are today to vision the future, you get a better sense of what actually makes Apple the organism tick. The stock price and what Wall Street or tech pundits think has ZERO to do with that.”

Well, that’s a start.

Below: Pendola on CNN, Jan. 10, 2013.



Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.