CEO TV:  The Wave Continues

On Monday, I wrote about the wave of CEOs on TV following earnings reports and offered that keeping quiet after earnings can work too.

And then none other than Apple’s chief executive officer Tim Cook joins the movement by appearing on Jim Cramer’s Mad Money Monday night.

Why would he do this?  Here’s two theories.

First, they really do worry about the price of the stock at Apple, and Cook’s appearance was an effort to rally the faithful.  This seems unlikely.

More likely, it’s something like this:  Apple management believes now is the time to introduce Tim Cook as his own man.  Up until now, Cook has been perceived as Steve Jobs’ replacement.  As shareholders and customers finally, sadly realize Steve Jobs can’t be replaced, there is a natural opportunity and risk for Cook.  By trotting our Cook now, Apple is trying to manage the risk and capitalize on opportunity.

The risk is that Tim Cook, unexpurgated, is not compelling in the production of earnings or navigating uncharted territory in privacy and security.  As CEO of the planet’s most valuable company, he’s got to be compelling on one, either or both.

The opportunity is that he’s precisely the right man at the right moment if, among other things, he can convince his publics of this.  With Apple now talking about how lucrative it will be providing services to customers, Cook can step into the fore as not the innovator that Jobs was, but rather as the able steward of a community with more than one billion members.

So the segment on CNBC could have been pure, unadulterated spin designed to tackle a long term risk, not the present choppiness in the stock.  What Cook had to weigh, and what other chief executive officers should weigh, is and whether taking to the airwaves and talking in an uncontrolled environment — irrevocably —  to a large television audience will solve problems or create new ones.


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