Leaked memo from Tim Cook targeting Apple leakers (full text)

From “Tim Cook says employees who leak memos do not belong at Apple, according to leaked memo” posted Wednesday by The Verge:

Dear Team,

It was great to connect with you at the global employee meeting on Friday. There was much to celebrate, from our remarkable new product line-up to our values driven work around climate change, racial equity, and privacy. It was a good opportunity to reflect on our many accomplishments and to have a discussion about what’s been on your mind.

I’m writing today because I’ve heard from so many of you were were incredibly frustrated to see the contents of the meeting leak to reporters. This comes after a product launch in which most of the details of our announcements were also leaked to the press.

I want you to know that I share your frustration. These opportunities to connect as a team are really important. But they only work if we can trust that the content will stay within Apple. I want to reassure you that we are doing everything in our power to identify those who leaked. As you know, we do not tolerate disclosures of confidential information, whether it’s product IP or the details of a confidential meeting. We know that the leakers constitute a small number of people. We also know that people who leak confidential information do not belong here.

As we look forward, I want to thank you for all you’ve done to make our products a reality and all you will do to get them into customers’ hands. Yesterday we released iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8, and Friday marks the moment when we share some of our incredible new products with the world. There’s nothing better than that. We’ll continue to measure our contributions in the lives we change, the connections we foster, and the work we do to leave the world a better place.

Thank you,

Tim

My take: Bets on whether the names of the leakers will leak?

7 Comments

  1. Rodney Avilla said:
    A letter very well written, perhaps assuming it would be leaked.

    6
    September 22, 2021
    • Steven Noyes said:
      There could also be 100, slightly different, versions.

      1
      September 23, 2021
  2. Michael Goldfeder said:
    Leakers. Disgruntled employees. Malcontents. Call them what you want, but in the end they are all informants with an agenda. AKA: Snitches.

    Being shown the door is the least of their concerns; as “Snitches get Stitches!” In most organizations, employees take care of their own in all sorts of creative ways. They’ll be ferreted out, ostracized, then whine some more. But on the outside without any credibility. Good riddance!

    1
    September 22, 2021
  3. Jerry Doyle said:
    My question is how can one expect an “All-hands staff meeting” be held confidentially, inside a major company where thousands attend?

    I understand Tim’s and senior staffs’ frustration, but please! It is reasonable to expect leaked information will occur when an “all-hands-on-deck” meeting is held.

    We had similar experiences within our organization of around 8,000 workers. Employees took information and sent it anonymously to news reporters. Not even the news reporters knew who sent the information.

    We obtained some of the envelopes from reporters to trace the postal mailing source and found employees were actually getting on planes and flying to another state to mail the information for the purpose of foiling the investigation. Postal investigators threw up roadblocks for requested video footage demanding if a crime had been committed. I do not believe Tim C can police successfully such leaks when the meetings involved such large numbers of employees. If it is a single employee who keeps his or her’s mouth shut, then it will be almost impossible to ferret them out.

    I also am a little surprised, if not puzzled, over Tim’s behavioral reaction. It seems more a manifestation of Tim’s frustration surrounding the company’s inability to control leaks and recent past negative events than of a CEO who seems always cool-as-ice and emotionally calm during organizational snafus. I only can assume the purpose of Tim’s letter is to warn employees who are leaking that you will be terminated. That could have been said in the letter without the written contents coming across in a “bullying” fashion. More euphemistic wording such as “company policy mandates termination of employees found leaking information regarded as confidential,” would have been preferable over Tim’s obvious frustration and rare public display of a temper tantrum.

    1
    September 22, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      @Jerry While I agree with you that it’s almost impossible to weed out solitary leakers, I agree with Tim Cook’s wording and comments. He, as CEO, sets the tone and direction for Apple. Most importantly, he speaks for Apple as a whole when he says “…We do not tolerate disclosures of confidential information, whether it’s product IP or the details of a confidential meeting. We know that the leakers constitute a small number of people. We also know that people who leak confidential information do not belong here.” We, as in Apple the company, Apple management, and as a leader, we the employees or “troops”. He wants this viewpoint to be the viewpoint of all employees and not just because it is the rules, it is in Apple’s DNA.

      Imagine if Steve Jobs were still here today, Tim being CEO and Jobs CEO Emeritus and President of Product Development & Intellectual Property. You don’t think Steve would not go “thermonuclear” at these leaks, especially if it stole his “one more thing” impact?

      So yeah, I feel Tim is rightly channeling Steve in making the terms of engagement with leakers quite personal and clear – you mess with Apple’s IP and privacy, you’re messing with “your” fellow employees, colleagues, and CEO/senior management all at the same time. Sort out or resolve why you selfishly leak or get the hell out out of our company. (Yes, I also get HR may not have helped you as much as you wanted. Life isn’t fair, is it?)

      1
      September 23, 2021
  4. Bart Yee said:
    IMO there must be a gain issue if you’re going to leak product info or company IP at the (potential) risk of your job. Of course, criminals of all collar colors NEVER believe they will get caught or found out.

    IMO, leakers are either getting paid in some fashion, have some other type of relationship with media (personal or otherwise), have ego enough to enjoy spilling confidential details of their or other teams’ work, or harbor ill feelings towards others or Apple enough to sabotage and undermine company privacy rules (and terms of employment) but not enough to outright leave the company if they had any integrity (IMO).

    Of course, either payment or the classic disgruntled employee is the most likely, or perhaps a mole or actual corporate spy. Sources of leaks obviously can also come from the supply chain where workers are paid much less and may have far less training or belief in upholding company confidentiality at Foxconn, Pegatron, etc.

    In any or all cases, these leaks do a disservice to Apple, it’s employees’ work and financial / technical interests. I agree with Tim, root them out, identify their sources, connections, relationships, methods, and reasons for why they leak, then terminate them and prosecute them for at least IP disclosure to the fullest extent of applicable law if necessary.

    You don’t want to follow the rules of your employment contract with Apple, you don’t belong or get the privilege of working at Apple (plus any stock you received should be revoked IMO). Plus risk that behavior follow you in your employment history.

    1
    September 23, 2021

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