How Tim Cook found out he’d be Apple’s CEO

March 17, 2015, 3:04 PM UTC
Image #: 15110121 epa02879831 A picture dated 07 August 2007 shows Apple CEO Steve Jobs (R) and Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook (L) standing together at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, USA. Apple Inc co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs on 24 August 2011 resigned as chief executive of the leading computer and consumer electronics company in a letter to the firmës board of directors. The company named Tim Cook to succeed him as CEO. EPA/MONICA M. DAVEY /LANDOV
Photograph by Monica M. Davey — EPA/Landov

Tim Cook thought late Apple CEO Steve Jobs was going to “live a lot longer” when Jobs told Cook he wanted him to become the company’s new CEO, Cook told the writers of an upcoming Jobs biography.

Here’s an excerpt of Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Revolutionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli via Fast Company:

On August 11, a Sunday, Steve called Tim Cook and asked him to come over to the house. “He said, ‘I want to talk to you about something,’ ” remembers Cook. “This was when he was home all the time, and I asked when, and he said, ‘Now.’ So I came right over. He told me he had decided that I should be CEO. I thought then that he thought he was going to live a lot longer when he said this, because we got into a whole level of discussion about what would it mean for me to be CEO with him as a chairman. I asked him, ‘What do you really not want to do that you’re doing?’

“It was an interesting conversation,” Cook says, with a wistful laugh. “He says, ‘You make all the decisions.’ I go, ‘Wait. Let me ask you a question.’ I tried to pick something that would incite him. So I said, ‘You mean that if I review an ad and I like it, it should just run without your okay?’ And he laughed and said, ‘Well, I hope you’d at least ask me!’ I asked him two or three times, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ because I saw him getting better at that point in time. I went over there often during the week, and sometimes on the weekends. Every time I saw him he seemed to be getting better. He felt that way as well. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.”

FastCo’s excerpt notes that Cook was an obvious choice to lead Apple, having been in charge of the company while Jobs was in treatment twice before. Cook, a master of detail, had architected of the company’s supply chain which helped it maintain dominance first in music players and later in phones and tablets. Cook took over as Apple’s CEO on August 24, 2011. Jobs died of complications related to a pancreatic tumor on October 5, 2011.

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Revolutionary Leader will be released on March 24.

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