Zuck on Cook: 'We need to inflict pain'

Wall Street Journal: At stake is how the internet will evolve and which companies will dominate it.

From Deepa Seetharaman, Emily Glazer and Tim Higgins' "Facebook Meets Apple in Clash of the Tech Titans" ($) in Saturday's Journal:

apple facebook zuck cook painFacebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has groused for years that Apple Inc. and its leader, Tim Cook, have too much sway over the social-media giant’s business. In 2018, his anger boiled over.

Facebook was embroiled in controversy over its data-collection practices. Mr. Cook piled on in a national television interview, saying his own company would never have found itself in such a jam. Mr. Zuckerberg shot back that Mr. Cook’s comments were “extremely glib” and “not at all aligned with the truth.”

In private, Mr. Zuckerberg was even harsher. “We need to inflict pain,” he told his team, for treating the company so poorly, according to people familiar with the exchange.

It wasn’t the first time—or the last—that Mr. Cook’s comments and actions would leave Mr. Zuckerberg seething and, at times, plotting to get back at Apple. The escalation of grievances erupted late last month in a rare public tit-for-tat between the two tech giants that laid bare the simmering animosity between their leaders, who exchanged jabs about privacy, app-tracking tools and, ultimately, their dueling visions about the future of the internet.

Apple has positioned itself as the protector of digital privacy, upholding a greater good, while often leveling criticisms at Facebook’s business model—without naming the company. All of that grates on Facebook, which sees Apple as overreaching in a way that threatens Facebook’s existence, and hypocritical, including by doing extensive business is China where privacy is scarce. A 2017 attempt to address tensions through a face-to-face meeting between the two CEOs resulted in a tense standoff.

My take: There's no better gift CEOs can give business journalists than making corporate competition personal.


  1. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. My take: There’s no better gift CEOs can give business journalists than making corporate competition personal.”

    Your take, PED, could say same about “political parties” in our country. Just switch CEOs to party leaders and business journalists to media. I assume it’s human nature at its worse played among the participants as an inscrutable codependency that perpetually cough up chaos & melodrama in equal proportion. Apple is not above reproach in its sanctimonious verbalizations all while exploiting to the maximum it’s business relationship with a nation that suppresses its people and one that puts certain ethnic & religious groups in bondage. We are a peoples compelled, it seems, to practice vivisection of our competitors and of those who disagree with us. It gets rather fatiguing.

    February 13, 2021
    • David Drinkwater said:
      If you can’t beat them, take their money and support the ones who you have hope for.

      Apple requires engagement in China to build its products (at least today Apple does), and it is foolish to overlook the largest nation in the world by population as a potential market for sales.

      Apple is not “supporting” China’s policies. Apple is accommodating them.

      Keep your political sanctimony to yourself. Just a thought.

      February 13, 2021
  2. David Emery said:
    I for one consider Zuck to be an amoral ‘man-child’. (He’s not alone in that category.) One attribute is ‘any attack is considered a personal attack.’

    February 13, 2021
    • Fred Stein said:
      Brilliant insight – thanks

      February 13, 2021
  3. Fred Stein said:
    I wish the WSJ article discussed the security aspect, inextricably linked with privacy.

    The same data that enables ad-targeting enables other targeting, whether to inflame political issues, aid in scams or identity theft, or in some countries, political persecution.

    This topic is much bigger than business model or personal differences.

    February 13, 2021
  4. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    “We need to inflict pain.”


    If actually said, a fine example of how power corrupts, not a fine example of a good leader.

    Apple is merely giving its users a choice across all apps, not just precious Facebook. So why such fear and loathing, Zuck?

    Interesting how Zuckerberg’s reaction is obtusely unproportional to Apple’s simple gesture. This overtly exposes him and his company as merely an info-pusher who’s only lifeblood ($) IS such.

    A thin reason to even exist.

    February 13, 2021
  5. Michael Goldfeder said:
    Cambridge Analytical. Enough said. IIRC, that was a $6 billion fine!

    February 13, 2021
  6. David Drinkwater said:
    My take: Zuck is the sucker in this fight. And the loser.

    February 13, 2021
  7. Tommo_UK said:
    “We need to inflict pain,” he told his team, for treating the company so poorly, according to people familiar with the exchange.”

    The death rattle of so many who have taken the fight to Apple only to end up drowning in the ever widening moat.

    This is the kind of talk which feeds the argument that FB needs to be broken up.

    February 14, 2021

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