Who Is Tim Cook and Can He Truly Replace Steve Jobs?

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With news of Steve Jobs’ resignation from Apple, interim CEO Tim Cook now finds himself behind the wheel of the most valuable computer company in the world. Cook’s been deeply entrenched within Apple for well over a decade, so the company is seemingly in good hands.

(PHOTOS: The Long, Extraordinary Career of Steve Jobs) 

But is Cook the next Steve Jobs? That remains to be seen. Cook’s own answer to the question of whether he could replace Steve Jobs is simply:

“No. He’s irreplaceable.”

That’s what he said during an interview with Fortune back in 2008—and he’s right. However, Apple’s got enough momentum going right now that it may not need another Steve Jobs in order to continue growing (in the short term, at least). Here’s a look at Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO.

Who Is Tim Cook?

Tim Cook grew up in Robertsdale, Alabama and attended Auburn University, where he received a degree in Industrial Engineering in 1982, followed by an MBA from Duke in 1988. Prior to joining Apple, Cook spent 12 years at IBM before being hired by Compaq as a vice president.

His stint at Compaq lasted just six short months before Cook joined Apple in 1998, hired personally by Steve Jobs “to streamline the company’s jumbled manufacturing and distribution operations,” according to a 2009 TIME profile. Cook was promoted to Apple COO in 2007.

Like Steve Jobs, Cook takes $1 in yearly salary. He reportedly received a $5 million bonus last year as a thank-you for filling in for Jobs during 2009, plus another $52.3 million in stock. Cook also sits on the board at Nike.

Cook’s appointment as Jobs’ successor comes as little surprise based on his past experience of filling in during Jobs’ previous medical leaves, and the fact that he’s been handling day to day operations at Apple since 2005.

An Apple GM told Wired in 2009:

“Tim runs Apple, and he has been running Apple for a long time now. Steve is the face of the company and very involved with product development but Tim is the guy who takes all those designs and turns it into a big pile of cash.”

Apple’s Performance Under Cook’s Watch

If we examine what’s happened to Apple’s stock whenever Tim Cook has filled in for Steve Jobs in the past, a pattern begins to emerge.

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