Since taking over as Apple’s boss, Tim Cook has added many new layers of management to the company structure. A new report details the most important people with power at Apple.
Aaron Tilley and Wayne Ma, writing for The Information in a very thought-provoking piece headlined “The People With Power at Apple”:
Nineteen people directly report to Mr. Cook, overseeing hardware, software, services, chips, artificial intelligence, marketing, finance and other areas. The figure includes Mr. Cook’s executive assistant and excludes a senior leader who reports to Mr. Cook and another executive.
That is actually more than the CEOs of other top tech companies, including Facebook, Amazon and Uber. The awesome organizational chart that accompanies this paywall’d story details more than 180 of the top leaders at the Cupertino company, including the people running stealthy projects devoted to augmented reality and autonomous vehicles.
The piece acknowledges the differences in Cook’s and Jobs’s managerial style:
Unlike Mr. Jobs, a legendary control freak, Mr. Cook is a consensus-builder who tends to closely consult with his top lieutenants. A former operations and supply chain guru for Apple, he avoids meddling in product decisions, as Mr. Jobs did, people familiar with his leadership said.
As a result of Cook’s less abrasive (but by no means less demanding) character, Apple’s senior vice presidents are “less politically volatile” than they were in the Jobs era. When conflicts arise, Cook expects his lieutenants to resolve their differences whereas Jobs would often pick sides to pit executives against each other, sources told the publication.
One exception: Cook fired one of Jobs’s closest favorite engineers, former iOS boss Scott Forstall, due to his refusal to sign a Maps apology and frequent clashes with Jony Ive.
“What’s different today is that Tim is much more of a delegator,” said David Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School, who has studied Apple extensively. “Apple is a more traditional type of organization today relative to what it was under Steve.”
The report focuses on Apple’s key executives:
Most of Mr. Cook’s lieutenants are holdovers from the Jobs era. Jonathan Ive remains the head of its influential design group, with power over the look and feel of hardware and software. Jeff Williams occupies Mr. Cook’s former job as chief operating officer, with oversight of a team dedicated to a new Apple healthcare initiative.
In addition to the iPhone and other existing products, Dan Riccio, Apple’s hardware engineering chief, oversees experimental and risky new hardware bets like augmented reality, which could include a wearable device for overlaying digital imagery on users’ views of the physical world.
Within the augmented reality group beneath him are nearly a dozen leaders with expertise in hardware, software and content, with backgrounds working in places like DreamWorks Animation and Sony’s PlayStation games group.
And let’s not forget Apple’s narrator who helps tell and spread the company’s story, Phil Schiller, who holds the title Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing:
Another one of Mr. Jobs’ deputies whose clout has grown under Mr. Cook is Philip Schiller, the company’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, say people familiar with his team. He holds considerable sway over Apple’s product roadmaps and can shoot down a project if he disapproves of it, they said.
When the Spotlight search team was pitching a new feature in a meeting a few years ago, for example, one of Mr. Schiller’s lieutenants told the group that his response to the proposal was ‘NFW’—short for ‘no fucking way.’ The feature was shelved.
Some interesting takeaways from the report:
- Apple CEO Tim Cook has 19 direct reports, more than other tech CEOs.
- The management oversees a workforce of 132,000, which has more than doubled in size since Tim Cook took over as CEO from co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011.
- Cook is more of consensus-builder than his predecessor, Steve Jobs.
- Apple’s augmented reality group includes people with content backgrounds from film and game companies.
Gene Munster, managing director at Loup Ventures, was quoted as saying:
Apple reinvents itself every 10 or so years. A reinvention is going on now. It largely centers around services, including parts of AI, AR and healthcare.
Dr. Drang recently posted a very interesting article detailing the responsibility shifts between Apple’s Senior Vice Presidents. This bit about the company’s outgoing retail chief Angela Ahrendts is especially interesting in light of Apple’s retail woes.
To me, Ahrendts’s five years in charge of Retail has been similar to Ive’s time as Chief Design Officer. The Apple Stores look better than ever, but they don’t work as well as they used to.
No one I know looks forward to going to an Apple Store, even when it’s for the fun task of buying a new toy. No doubt a lot of this is due to Apple’s success and the mobs of people milling about, but Ahrendts didn’t solve the problem of efficiently handling the increased customer load.
The downside to all this is that Apple has become more of a traditional corporation with many layers of management that sometime get in the way of crucial processes. And that has led to some huge growing pains as the company no longer has an arbiter of cool that it had in Jobs, which shows in recent hiccups such as bug-ridden software and slipping product quality.