Like millions of other people around the world, I cheered Tim Cook’s comments in response to a question from the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) at last Friday’s Apple shareholder meeting. The organization asked Cook to commit to only those things that were profitable—Cook refused, saying that Apple made decisions for a variety of reasons.
You would think that would be the end of the situation—sadly, it wasn’t. I don’t feel the need to defend Tim Cook, but I do feel it’s necessary to clarify some of the things that are being said after the shareholder meeting
Here is what Tim Cook actually said during the shareholder meeting when the NCPPR asked him to commit to only pursuing profitable projects:
“No, I wouldn’t be willing to say that because we do things for other reasons than profit motives. We do things because they are right and just and that is who we are. That’s who we are as a company. I don’t… when I think about human rights, I don’t think about an ROI. When I think about making our products accessible for the people that can’t see or to help a kid with autism, I don’t think about a bloody ROI, and by the same token, I don’t think about helping our environment from an ROI point of view. It’s not how I look at it. My simple point was if you did only look at it in that way for the Maiden data center, the same decisions would have been made and so there are cases where you can see these two spheres connecting but I’m not going to say that that’s all I’m going to do by any means. I don’t look at it that way. Just to be very straightforward with you, if that’s a hard line for you, if you only want me to make things, make decisions that have a clear ROI, then you should get out of the stock just to be plain and simple.”
Thank you. I think it’s so important to remember that the Apple brand stands for something and you can’t take each piece of it and say, “This has a 20% ROI and this has a 15, and you shouldn’t have given this $100 million to education,” and all this kind of stuff. That’s not the way we look at it. It’s not who we are as people.
Say what you want about Cook, he speaks his mind.