Apple Inc AAPL CEO Tim Cook is “all but assured” to lead the iPhone maker until 2025, but long-time expert Mark Gurman said he is likely to make his exit soon after a key product category is introduced.
What Happened: Gurman explored Apple’s succession plans in a newsletter over the weekend. He noted that Cook had grown Apple’s stock more than 1,000% in his decade of leadership and also expanded the company’s product portfolio with new services, wearables and a wide array of screen sizes.
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The analyst said Cook, who turned 62 in November, will leave behind big shoes for his successor to fill. The analyst came up with a list of probables that could lead the company once the Cook-era comes to an end.
Of the multiple names mentioned in the newsletter, Gurman suggested four “real possibilities:” Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams, Senior Vice President Greg Joswiak, retail chief Deirdre O’Brien and hardware engineering lead John Ternus.
Why It Matters: Gurman said, should Cook step down in the next five years, Williams was a likely successor. However, since he is only three years younger than Cook, it "probably precludes him from being a decade-or-longer replacement" if that was what Apple sought, as per the analyst.
On Joswiak, Gurman observed that he was the longest-serving employee on Cook's team. He also said Joswiak knew the company inside out — having been heavily involved in product management and marketing for several years.
O’Brien has been with Apple for three decades and her roles have spanned retail, operations, and finance. Given that she is five years younger than cook, she could have a long career ahead, as per Gurman.
Finally, Ternus is the youngest member of Apple's executive team and could enjoy the "longest runway" at Apple. He could be a potential charismatic leader and is well-liked, the analyst said.
The Apple-focused journalist however left himself some wiggle room and said that since Cook’s departure is at least five years away, the “list could change quickly — and someone could appear out of left field.”
In 2020, Cook became a billionaire as Apple neared a $2 trillion valuation. Currently, the company’s market cap stands at $2.24 trillion.
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