Apple CEO Tim Cook sat down with the Washington Post for a rare, lengthy interview to discuss the company, and, even more sparsely discussed, himself. Topics ranged from his thoughts on short-term investors' impatience, who he gets advice from, why he decided to come out as gay and Apple's unorthodox management structures.
It's an interesting, honest read, and we learned a lot. Here's what we gleaned about Apple and its CEO:
AR is in Apple's Future
When asked about augmented reality and virtual reality, Cook latched onto the former, calling it a "core technology."
"It’s something we’re doing a lot of things on behind that curtain that we talked about," suggesting that whatever Apple is working on will be shrouded in secrecy for a long time.
Cook Has a Succession Plan
"At the end of every board meeting, I discuss succession with the board because I might step off the wrong curb or something," Cook said. Steve Jobs had told told Cook that Apple had never had an orderly transition between CEOs (even his hand-off to Cook was sudden and rocky), and Cook wants to fulfill that wish.
He Knows Where He Screwed Up
Cook mentioned two high-profile mistakes during the interview: hiring John Browett to run retail operations and Apple Maps.
The CEO didn't mention Browett, the former CEO of Dixons, by name, but it's clear who he was talking about.
"That was clearly a screw-up," Cook told the Post. "I’m not saying anything bad about him. He didn’t fit here culturally is a good way to describe it."
While Maps was half-baked at best, Cook says Apple is proud of the current product (though it still has a stigma among consumers). "We had the self-honesty to admit this wasn’t our finest hour and the courage to choose another way of doing it," he said.
Who Cook Turns To for Advice
It's unsurprising that Cook has the ear of plenty of powerful people, and he asks them for guidance and counsel.
When considering to return cash to investors, Cook said he talked with Warren Buffet. Cook's first time testifying before Congress was about Apple's taxes in 2013, and he talked to Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, President Bill Clinton and Laurene Powell Jobs, a philanthropist, executive and the wife of the late Steve Jobs. All had experience in the area.
Prior to coming out as gay in 2014 in a Bloomberg Businessweek op-ed, Cook said he talked at length with Anderson Cooper, who he thought came out in a very "classy" manner.
Criticism Wasn't Because of Jobs -- It was Because of Apple
Becoming the leading man at Apple put Cook in the ultimate spotlight as CEO of the biggest tech company in the world. Yet Jobs was so magnetic that it's not surprising that Cook may have expected he could have a more slightly private life than his predecessor.
"You’re both praised and criticized, and the extremes are wide — very wide...," he told the Post. "That was just downright shocking to me, honestly. I thought the visibility went with Steve, not the company. And so I thought with a different CEO, with me, that would instantly change. It didn’t."
Apple Still Won't Talk About a Car (Or Anything Else)
After discussing how difficult it is to keep products a secret these days (just look at our iPhone and Apple Car rumor roundups), Cook's lips are still locked.
"I can’t answer a question about something we haven’t announced."
For more -- and I mean so much more -- go read the entire interview at the Washington Post. You'll learn about Cook's interest in AI, his views on Apple's taxes in the U.S. and abroad as well as background on Apple's recent spat with the FBI.