A low-key, 52-year-old operational wizard from Robertsdale, Ala., Tim Cook assumed command of Apple in 2011 after the death of his mentor, revered company co-founder Steve Jobs. Cook worked his way up the Silicon Valley ranks before being hired by Jobs in 1998. By his own description, Cook is a “very private person.” Now, he’s running the largest technology company in the world at a time of transition. Since last September, Apple’s stock price has declined by 40%, wiping out hundreds of billions of dollars in shareholder value and costing the tech giant the title of world’s largest firm by market capitalization. Last month, Apple shares fell below $400 for the first time since December 2011.
Late last year, Cook said that Apple, which has faced criticism for outsourcing much of the company’s manufacturing to China, plans to “do one of our existing Mac lines in the Unites States.” Cook also moved aggressively to address critics about working conditions at Foxconn, the sprawling industrial conglomerate that produces iPhones and iPads. Cook has loosened Jobs-era limits on corporate philanthropy, and initiated a new plan to issue a long-asked-for dividend to Apple shareholders. This week, Apple announced that it would sell $17 billion worth of bonds, in the largest non-bank bond deal in U.S. history.