Reality distorted: Apple’s answer to Amazon’s ‘beauty contest’

How to make it look like there wasn’t one winner (Austin) and a lot of losers.

Asked last March about the way U.S. cities were offering big tax breaks to host Amazon’s new headquarters, Tim Cook—who was conducting his own, much quieter site search—took the high road.

“I don’t condemn it,” he said. “But from our point of view, we didn’t want to create this contest because you wind up putting people though a ton of work to select one. That is a case where you have a winner and a lot of losers. I don’t like that.”

Queue the video, note the general applause:

Amazon ended up with not one but two new headquarter sites—New York City and Arlington, VA—and is still taking flak from both losers and winners.

Apple announced today that it had chosen Austin, TX, for its second headquarters. But as if mindful of Cook’s words, Apple’s press release bent over backwards to make it look like there were no losers. You wouldn’t know, from the map above, that there are already roughly 25,000 Apple employees in Silicon Valley alone. If it weren’t for the 1,000-employee cut-off in the scale on which the map above was drawn, most of the U.S. would be painted Cupertino teal.

apple expansion map

My take: What’s the difference between and an Apple employee and a “team member”? Are we, perhaps, counting developers?

UPDATE: From friend-of-the-blog Jeff F, reacting to the news that Apple is on track to create 20,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2023:

Doesn’t sound like a steel mill going out of business to me.


  1. Gregg Thurman said:
    “Doesn’t sound like a steel mill going out of business to me.”

    Jeez, thanks for that quote, Jeff. Of all the metrics one can track to measure the health of a company, changes in revenue and headcount would be the easiest way to gauge the health of a firm.

    Revenue going up, headcount going up – healthy firm
    Revenue in decline, headcount in decline – unhealthy firm

    There is nothing unhealthy about Apple, ergo this selloff is a kneejerk reaction to factors that are either irrelevant or out of Apple’s control and, most importantly, way overdone.

    December 13, 2018
  2. Fred Stein said:
    Thanks so much.

    Tim Cook leads from values and principles. As investors, we can expect that Apple won’t get caught in expensive scandals that have hammered other companies.

    Despite rumors, panics, economic cycles, we can “just hold.” That is one of the reasons Buffett is in.

    December 13, 2018
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      Speaking of Buffett, do you think he’s buying AAPL at these prices? Does a bear…., well you know the rest. I can’t wait for 13F filings in February.

      December 13, 2018

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