Steve Jobs is gone. Where are the new visionaries of our time? Jobs’ successor at Apple is CEO Tim Cook. The differences are enormous. Jobs was a visionary who, by hook or crook, pushed new and disruptive products into the market.
Jobs used executives like Cook to build Apple’s product machine which then build great riches for shareholders. One can argue that Jobs’ personal power and position power were an underrated, under-analyzed asset that has yet to be replicated among Apple’s seasoned but deficient executives.
Yes, we armchair, Monday morning quarterbacks know that a CEO may run a company, but he or she is not the company. Successes are made up of a collective of individuals in key areas who are guided and directed by management to bring forth products and help to make them succeed.
That was Steve Jobs’ forte. From Apple to NeXT to Pixar, Jobs had a vision and a touch that seems missing from Apple circa 2018. The list of disruptive influences under Jobs’ reign is distinct; Apple itself, the Mac, Apple Stores, iPod and iTunes, iTunes Music Store, iPhone and iPad; all helped to reshape industries.
Since Jobs’ death in 2011 Apple has increased shareholder value to record levels, gathered revenue growth and profits the envy of every technology company. Apple’s influence has spread far and wide, and while the company basks in iterative improvements in every product line, the only new products under Cook’s reign are Watch and AirPods; both disruptive, yes, but not in the vein of Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad et al.
Who is Apple’s next generation visionary?
Such a man or woman will need that vision thing, plus the personal and position power necessary to drive the gears of a behemoth technology giant that has succeeded– financially and with products– far beyond what Jobs may have envisioned.
Are there such visionaries today?
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is something of a latter day Jobs and his company has disrupted numerous markets already. Elon Musk has a growing list of disruptive businesses already; PayPal, Tesla, HyperLoop, SpaceX, battery manufacturing, the Boring Company, and, for some reason, flamethrowers, but you get the idea. There are technology visionaries of Jobs’ caliber elsewhere in the technology world.
What about an Apple visionary?
Who is it?
Cook? No. Phil Schiller? Nope. Jonny Ive? Uh uh. Craig Federighi? I don’t think so. Angela Ahrendts? Probably not. Eddy Cue? Puhleeze.
For the most part, Apple’s executive ranks are white and male– as was Jobs– but diversity is an issue at many technology companies. What is missing in the visible ranks is the Bezos or Musk of Apple’s future.
I conclude with three questions:
1 – who is Apple’s next generation visionary?
2 – does Apple need a visionary to succeed?
3 – if so, or not, why?