FT: How Apple's Tim Cook charmed Elon Musk

"His role as Big Tech’s calm elder statesman has been put to the test over the past month."

From Patrick McGee's "Tim Cook charm resolves Twitter spat yet China crisis rumbles on" ($) posted Friday by the Financial Times:

Tim Cook was already battling one of the biggest disruptions to Apple’s crucial supply chain operations in China since the onset of the global pandemic when the tweet tirade began. In a flurry of more than a dozen tweets on Monday, Elon Musk launched a broadside against the world’s most valuable tech company, questioning the Apple chief’s commitment to free speech.

Musk, who bought Twitter for $44bn in October, rallied his 120mn followers to support a “revolution against online censorship in America”.  Cook was able to placate the erratic billionaire within two days. Soon Musk was tweeting again, calling the whole thing a “misunderstanding” and thanking Cook for a personal tour of Apple’s headquarters, known as Apple Park.

A former Apple veteran of more than 10 years was not surprised by Cook’s diplomatic nous. “I’m sure Tim charmed him,” the person said. “He wanted to hear [Musk] out. And I’m sure Tim gave his perspective. That’s what Tim does: he rolls up his sleeves and fixes problems. He’s not into big public disputes, whether it’s a PR dispute or something more contentious. That’s not his MO. He’s not like Elon.”

Cook’s low-key, behind-the-scenes maneuvering since taking over from Steve Jobs in 2011 has been instrumental in solidifying Apple’s position as the world’s largest company. His role as Big Tech’s calm elder statesman has been put to the test over the past month amid huge disruption at the world’s largest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, China.

My take: Musk left the spaceship with nothing to show but egg on his face.

11 Comments

  1. Robert Douglass said:
    Well, ‘my’ take is that they both left the meeting with a deal that we won’t hear about for many months, if ever. But the deal will make accommodations for both sides. And the deal might have nothing to do with App Store issues.

    5
    December 3, 2022
    • Lalit Jagtap said:
      I will believe something concrete happened only if Teala supports Apple CAR play in its vehicles.

      3
      December 3, 2022
      • Bob Goldstein said:
        I would like to have a Tesla but no Apple CarPlay is a deal breaker for me

        6
        December 3, 2022
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      “charmed” hell! Elon’s mouth put him in a position he didn’t want to be in. TC gave him an out, and Elon took it (like a drowning man accepts a life preserver).

      0
      December 4, 2022
  2. Gregg Thurman said:
    I use to be a big admirer of Musk. Not today, my view now is that he looks good wearing egg.

    7
    December 3, 2022
    • Lalit Jagtap said:
      Gregg, same for me. Based on the negativity he is spreading on the Twitter, I am preying for his mental well being.

      Elon had earned my huge respect in 2014 when he took action based on my tweet about our family’s Model S waiting in the body shop for a part from Fremont factory. Within a few hours after my tweet with VIN to Elon, a senior executive from his team, called me and took required actions.

      3
      December 3, 2022
      • David Emery said:
        My friend who has a Tesla says “Don’t get into an accident with one.” Parts are apparently really difficult to get.

        2
        December 3, 2022
  3. Steven Philips said:
    I don’t think “elder statesman” is a role. It’s something you are or aren’t. At this point I’m inclined to think Tim Cook is techs ONLY “statesman”!

    3
    December 3, 2022
  4. Ken Cheng said:
    Makes me laugh recalling a few years ago when people were proclaiming Elon as the new Steve! I remember thinking what a load of bollocks. Steve would never be so fragmented with 3 companies, now 4. Steve met self-imposed deadlines, Elon does not. Steve was not a loose cannon in public, Elon is.

    Just remember Steve’s letter about Adobe’s Flash, and why it isn’t on the iPhone. Elon has a difficult time explaining his actions with regard to who is or isn’t allowed on Twitter. The mature Steve was thoughtful. Maybe, when Elon grows up, he can be a better version of himself.

    I love when Tim, differentiates himself, and makes it clear he’s the only adult in the room, when so many other tech leaders seem just the opposite. Hopefully, those politicians who want to lump Apple in with all the other crud can tell the difference when they make their policies.

    6
    December 3, 2022
  5. Rodney Avilla said:
    My take: Musk left the spaceship with nothing to show but egg on his face.

    Actually, he left with something that no politician, Wall Street analyst, or other interested party (and I am sure there were a lot of CEOs and academic observers watching closely as to what was going on between Apple and Twitter) was able to get- a clarification on Apple’s position on the “new” Twitter. And it was a clarification to his benefit.
    Also, how many people can get an audience with Mr. Cook (or Mr Musk for that matter), with a one or two day notice?

    1
    December 3, 2022
    • Michael Goldfeder said:
      @ Rodney: I don’t know about Musk, but I’m certain PED could get a last minute audience with Cook.

      4
      December 3, 2022

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