When you look at the legacy that Jobs is leaving at Apple, its easy to understand that idea. He did take the company from the verge of failure and made it into one of the most valuable companies on the planet. His vision and leadership made Apple the company that many love (and love to hate) today. Through all that, he has been teaching his methods to Tim.
Cook has lead the sales division of Apple for a number of years now. It has been him who has managed to convince millions to buy Apple’s products, driving them to record profits quarter over quarter. It is Cook who lead them to dethrone Exxon as the most valuable company in the world earlier this summer.
During an interview with Bussinessweek in 2004, Jobs downplayed his own role at Apple, instead insisting that Cook was the man behind Apple’s rise. Here is a quote from that interview:
Not everyone knows it, but three months after I came back to Apple, my chief operating guy quit. I couldn’t find anyone internally or elsewhere that knew as much as he did, or as I did. So I did that job for nine months before I found someone I saw eye-to-eye with, and that was Tim Cook. And he has been here ever since.
Of course, I didn’t tell anyone because I already had two jobs [CEO of Apple and of movie maker Pixar Animation Studios] and didn’t want people to worry about whether I could handle three [jobs]. But after Tim came on board, we basically reinvented the logistics of the PC business. We’ve been doing better than Dell [in terms of some metrics such as inventory] for five years now!
This looks like the highest praise Jobs could have given him at that point. It also shows that he and Cook’s mantra of “slash inventory, shut warehouses, run manufacturing close to the bone” was working. That meant that they were managing to drive Apple back to a company that made profits, unlike the Apple that had found in the late 90s.