Still more snippets of the authorized Steve Jobs biography have emerged, with Bloomberg relating a couple of choice bits about Jobs' relationship with new Apple CEO Tim Cook and the company's industrial design wizard, Jonathan "Jony" Ive.
Jobs hired Cook away from Compaq not long after the Mac mastermind had returned to the company he'd founded. Cook had an undergrad degree in industrial engineering from Auburn University and an MBA from Duke, and when they met, Jobs saw him as a kindred spirit. "I knew what I wanted and I met Tim, and he wanted the same thing," Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson.
One thing Jobs wanted was to limit the amount of Apple's unsold inventory--and protect financial results--by building just-in-time factories, where products are assembled when ordered. Cook closed 10 of Apple's 19 warehouses to limit inventory buildup and by 1998 had cut inventory down to six days from about a month.
As for Cook's side of the story, he clearly responded to Jobs right off the bat as well.
"My intuition told me that joining Apple would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work for a creative genius," Cook told Isaacson. "Engineers are taught to make a decision analytically, but there are times when relying on gut or intuition is most indispensable."
The two men's temperaments meshed well. Cook was more than happy with Jobs' place in the limelight, and with his own, behind-the-scenes role.
"Some people resent the fact that Steve gets credit for everything, but I've never given a rat's a** about that," Cook told Isaacson. "Frankly speaking, I'd prefer my name never be in the paper."
But he was no yes-man, and he learned how to communicate effectively with his boss.
"I realized very early on that if you didn't express your opinion, [Jobs] would mow you down. He takes contrary positions to create more discussion, because it may lead to a better result. So if you don't feel comfortable disagreeing, then you'll never survive."
The relationship suited Jobs, who handed oversight of the supply chain to Cook, which freed Jobs up to handle larger strategy issues and do what he did so well: act as a product visionary.
"I trusted him to know exactly what to do," Jobs told Isaacson about Cook. "He had the same vision I did, and we could interact at a high strategic level and I could just forget about a lot of things unless he came and pinged me."
This liberation in terms of company matters seemed, after the onset of Jobs' cancer, to combine with Jobs' growing sense of the limited time he had left and to create fertile ground for what was indeed a visionary end to an already storied career. After Jobs came back from his first medical leave, Cook told Isaacson, Jobs was "on a mission."
"Even though he was now running a large company, he kept making bold moves that I don't think anybody else would have done," Cook said.
Jobs' other partner in all this was Ive, who, Bloomberg reports, often lunched with Jobs and collaborated with him on Apple products in the designer's on-campus studio.
"He understands what we do at our core better than anyone," Jobs told Isaacson. "If I had a spiritual partner at Apple, it's Jony."
Isaacson's biography of Jobs comes out Monday. You can read more about it in our roundup.