Tim Cook is planning to give away all of his near $800m fortune before he dies, the Apple boss said in a surprisingly frank interview, in which he also described his sexuality as a “yawner”.
Cook, 54, who took over as Apple chief executive from Steve Jobs in 2011, told Fortune magazine that he planned to donate all of his wealth to charity after providing for his 10-year-old nephew’s education.
Cook, who has spoken publicly about the importance of stopping HIV/Aids and climate change, as well as championing human rights and equality, did not specify which causes he would support but said he had already begun donating money quietly. He said he would develop a systematic approach to philanthropy, rather than just writing cheques.
Fortune estimated that Cook holds $120m worth of Apple shares and a further $665m of restricted stocks.
Cook follows other high-profile executives in giving their money away. In 2010, Warren Buffett and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates launched the Giving Pledge, an appeal to billionaires to give at least 50% of their wealth to charity. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar have all signed up.
Cook has previously spoken of his affection for his nephew. In a speech last year, he said: “I have a nephew that I dearly love that’s 10, and when I look at him, and when I think of leaving a world that’s not as good as when I entered it, there’s no bigger sin than that.”
In 2012, Cook donated $50m to Stanford hospitals, near Apple’s Silicon Valley headquarters, including $25m for a new children’s hospital. He also gave $50m to Product Red, a charity working to combat Aids, tuberculosis and malaria,according to Silicon Valley website the Verge.
Cook also spoke about his decision to come out as gay last year – making him by far the most influential gay business executive as head of the world’s most valuable company.
He said he made the decision to come out “quite some time ago” and that his announcement was viewed internally at Apple – where most people already knew he was gay – as a “yawner”.
However, Cook said making his sexuality public knowledge was difficult because he is a very private and guarded about his personal life. “To be honest, if I would not have come to the conclusion that it would likely help other people, I would have never done it,” he said. “There’s no joy in me putting my life in view.”
In the interview, Cook also took a strong line on investors trying to make a quick buck out of Apple’s rising share price. “The kind of investors we seek are long term because that’s how we make our decisions,” he said. “If you’re a short-term investor, obviously you’ve got the right to buy the stock and trade it the way you want. It’s your decision. But I want everybody to know that’s not how we run the company.”
Earlier this week, a financial analyst predicted that Apple could soon become the world’s first trillion dollar company. Analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald on Monday said they thought Apple’s shares – which are currently trading at about $127, valuing the company at $733bn – could soon be worth $180 each, which would value the iPhone maker at $1.05tn.
It would be the first time any company had ever been valued at more than $1tn, and would make Apple more valuable than the gross domestic product (GDP) of Indonesia, the Netherlands or Saudi Arabia, according to World Bank statistics. It would also mean Apple would be worth 2.6 times as much as Google, the second most valuable company in the US, with a market valuation of $383bn.
by Rupert Neate