Former Apple exec slams Tim Cook’s management skills

By , Nov 9, 2012

It’s been just a little over a year since Tim Cook officially took the reigns as Apple’s CEO, and thus far, he has looked like a genius. Apple has set a number of records in the last 12 months, and recently released a slew of new  products.

But “genius” isn’t the word that David Sobotta, a former director of Apple’s federal sales group, would used to describe Mr. Cook. In a recent interview with ReadWriteWeb, Sobotta painted a very grim picture of the chief executive…

Sobotta worked at Apple for 20 years, from 1984-2004 when he was asked to leave the company. He didn’t report directly to Cook, but as director of Apple’s federal sales group he had a lot of contact with Apple’s current CEO.

Shortly after last week’s announcement that Scott Forstall was leaving Apple, Dan Lyons of ReadWriteWeb emailed Sobotta about his thoughts on the management shakeup. Below are some excepts from their conversation.

“Well, for starters, Cook is not a people person,” Sobotta writes. “He certainly will not stand behind someone if the going gets rough. He is not that kind of guy. I sense no personal loyalty in him, and I suspect employees already understand that…

…I would expect that Tim is having a hard time herding the chickens. From what I saw of him, he was something of a loner. He is not a warm guy nor is he the type to go wandering the halls or Caffe Mac to find out what is happening. His preference is to tinker with spreadsheets and numbers. He is not a natural leader. He’s a manager…

…Technology-wise, I think Tim Cook is a lightweight. I never felt passion for technology from Tim like I did from Steve and some of the great engineers.”

Yikes. Those are some strong words for a former employee that hasn’t worked at Apple in more than 8 years. Sobotta says he still talks to people inside the company, but who knows what departments they’re in or where they stand.

It’s hard to imagine that if Tim Cook’s really like this, Steve Jobs would have left him in charge of Apple. Remember, Jobs handpicked Cook to be the company’s CEO after resigning last year. And that’s after several years of working next to him.

I do agree, though, that Tim probably doesn’t have a technological mind. I don’t see him in his office dreaming up Apple’s next big hit. He’s a numbers guy, the former head of operations, and he obviously did that well enough to get noticed.

Besides, Cook has enough talented minds around him — Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue, etc. — that he doesn’t have to dream up new products. He just has to steady the ship and make sure Apple keeps churning out awesome stuff.

So far so good.

What do you think about Sobotta’s comments?

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  • CollegiateLad

    Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs? What a shocking revelation.

    • http://twitter.com/doubleaa25 Adham

      I could not stop laughing when I read this

  • http://twitter.com/MCaudebec Maxim∑

    Tim Cook is Tim Cook, not Steve Jobs. Tim Cook worked at IBM and was with Steve Jobs for 10 years, he knows what he is doing. Combining the OSX and iOS teams was genius of him, and Bob Mansfield came back which is excellent I think apple has a good future ahead of them

    • Kurt

      not when they are making the same product each year and others are advancing their OSes. Thats apples problem. No company stays on top for long.

  • mervynraj

    Tim probably doesnt have that passion that Job had… but he defo knows how to run Apple in profit which is what Steve would want at the end of the day… if Jony Ive comes up with new design, Tim would probably say ‘yes go ahead with it’ unlike Jobs who would think deeeeeep before nodding!!

    • Kurt

      what does jony ive really do? each year the products look the exact same. so he doesnt seem very busy

      • syntax_error

        Do you really think its only the outside of a product ? Theres much much more for him…

      • ReanimationXP

        Dumbest comment I think I’ve ever read on here.

        Sure, Ive is doing nothing. Meanwhile at Microsoft, Windows has been literally identical since 2007, until this year when they released.. wait for it.. colored squares. Real progress elsewhere.

      • Kurt

        you butt hurt bro? iOS is nothing compared to wp8 os. its a fact. accept it. ok troll? good.

      • ReanimationXP

        lmao yea I’m “butt hurt” over how stupid you are. makes sense. and i’m definitely the troll too.

      • Kurt

        look up the definition of a troll. its a little gay boy who likes to start trouble, in hopes of getting a spanking…go away you little queen.

      • ReanimationXP

        Haha, I can’t.. you’re hilarious.

        “queen”? “spanking”? calling others “dork”?

        Using the new-age brilliantly-devised troll defense mechanism of calling your target a troll first?

        Super sick skills brah!

        If I’m the troll then you’re clearly upset.. so 10/10, would troll again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    tim cook sucks

    • CollegiateLad

      Hey, no gay jokes!!

      • Guest

        your a fag. are you offended

      • http://www.facebook.com/soto619 David Soto

        You mean: You’re a fag, are you offended? Good luck next time.

      • 4p0c4lyps3

        Off topic. But u were an Elim Pro beast!! Oh how I miss those days. Infils, mag rails, rippers poppin heads. Good times.

      • http://www.facebook.com/soto619 David Soto

        Thanks, I miss that game. To bad the devs abandon that game. Now i just pwn’d on the xbox.

      • 4p0c4lyps3

        Ya no doubt. Was best online fps on iPhone.I’m pretty sure it was a $ generating juggernaut too. A true shame. I proly dumped a few hundred into tht bitch. Oh well…

      • http://www.facebook.com/soto619 David Soto

        Same here. I spent a few giftcards and many hours. That game was addictive.

      • Kurt

        You mean: “TOO bad…” and “abandonED” …and “pwn’d the xbox” no need for a preposition. Why mock the other guy when your English blows.

        As you would say, “Good luck next time.”

      • Kurt

        you dork

      • 4p0c4lyps3

        Sad u never played, I wlda luved owning ur pathetic troll ass. Son

      • Kurt

        you would like ass little gay boy

  • Lordthree

    I believe Tim has a engineering degree…

  • chjode

    Wait, a former employee who was fired or forced out 8+ years ago has only poor things to say about his past company? No way…

  • MagicDrumSticks

    Steve jobs “how can we make the most innovative product thy our customers will love”

    Tim cook “how can we make a product that wil earn us the most profit?

    • JustinBinder

      Spot on!

    • Kurt

      other way around. steve jobs was all about money. why do you think he would dismantle a philanthropist office?

  • sheetheadj

    His comments sound spot-on to me. Jobs was an empowered nerd that still wanted to be in the trenches. Cook’s a businessman that would fire his own mother if it meant more cash for his company. Regardless, he’s got a long road ahead. Apple will only be able to rest on its innovation-diminishing laurels for so long…

  • http://www.facebook.com/CL3M3NTY3O Clement Yeo

    Steve , Full of vision , Woah,innovation,thinker and try to make it real,or make it better?

    Tim, money-minded , $$$$ << What he sees

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidlim.zhongwei David Lim Zhong Wei

    It could have been worse-Steve may had picked forstall instead.

  • MSiqueira

    Cook’s comment: ‘Sobotta who?’

  • iamnotfan

    Cook what ?

  • Kurt

    why are people calling tim cook a genius? isn’t that word allotted to the high schoolers working at the apple stores?

    • ReanimationXP

      sure is asspain in here..

  • Javier Gore

    Jobs: “Lets make a great product and profit will be a result of it”
    Cook: “Lets make a great profit by making a great product”.

    Subtle but strong differences.

  • Mohammad Ridwan

    Firing Scott was a major mistake… He should have handled the situation in different way..

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000606372701 David Canfield

      i agree he shood have tacken him out the back and givn him a eduction in the form of a yelling at

      • ReanimationXP

        ^This same dude says:

        “and if i was microsofts ceo i wood be hiring scot win phone 7 needs help a lot of help, stilll better than fucking ios”

        So.. you want the guy who needs a good “yelling at” to come make Windows Phone 7 better, because it’s already better than iOS, which he was working on.

        Makes sense.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000606372701 David Canfield

        troll sucses

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000606372701 David Canfield

    and if i was microsofts ceo i wood be hiring scot win phone 7 needs help a lot of help
    stilll better than fucking ios

  • ReanimationXP

    My god the dumbasses are thick out today.