There's no question now: Apple is dead

If Tim Cook really wants to tie pay to performance, why doesn't he use unit sales of the next big piece of hardware as the benchmark, not the irrational stock market?

By TheStreet Staff Jun 24, 2013 1:22PM

TheStreet logoApple Inc. logo is displayed on the back of the new MacBook Pro David Paul Morris, Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy Rocco Pendola


It's official: Apple's (AAPL) Board of Directors and executive team, led by Tim Cook, clearly never had or have completely lost any real respect for Steve Jobs.


Anybody who sees my frequent Twitter exchanges with Jon Fortt of CNBC knows how much I respect the guy. There's no better tech reporter in all of tech. And he's a good guy. I can vouch for this on the basis of our limited public and personal conversations.


That said, he's missing the larger -- and more important -- point on why the company's decision ( to tie the size (hence, value) of upper management's stock option packages to S&P 500 performance is so tragic. This is not only a rebuke of Steve Jobs and the Apple way -- the very essence of what made Apple the world's greatest company -- it's a perverse validation of Wall Street and the stock market. As if Wall Street should play any role whatsoever in determining how much anybody -- from the CEO to the cleaning crew -- makes at Apple.


I don't agree that it's in the ballpark. In fact, it's not even in the same league. Do a Google search for "Steve Jobs backdated options" and, after a small bit of memory refreshing, I think you'll agree.


But, we're not playing Pepper here. Fortt still has a point.


There's no question it sounds so great to hear the mantra shouted: Tim Cook wants his pay tied to his performance! Here he is playing the role of shareholder's best friend again.

First, it's an easy move to make when you're already rich beyond comprehension. The most recent take by Cook and his colleagues hits in the multi millions, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission document tied to the options restructuring. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that. It's how these guys get paid. It's perfectly explainable. On the up and up. But, again, you're putting compensation at risk that's little more than icing on an already badass cake.


Second, don't buy the superficiality of the argument that this is good for shareholders because Apple brass now has real incentive to see the stock price rise. Tied to the first point, this is not real, true incentive. This is akin to the author Barbara Ehrenreich seeing how it feels to work minimum wage jobs in "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" or an activist "experiencing" homelessness for a few nights.


When you have security (a credit card for emergencies, money in the bank, fortune), you really cannot experience being poor or the type of scared stiff incentive that drives people to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It's just not possible. It's not even the same as somebody making $100,000 a year being incentivized up to $150,000 or $200,000. It's all lip service. Something we're seeing more and more of from Apple under Cook's leadership.


It's astonishing that anybody at Apple would go along with the notion of freaking Wall Street dictating how much somebody gets paid. Isn't the going argument among people who request we lay off the Apple bearishness that the market "misprices" the value of AAPL stock? You know ... how can (AMZN) "lose money" or have a P/E of 3,000 and a stock price of $270, while investors "undervalue" AAPL at a P/E of 10?


But, yeah, it's a brilliant and ballsy move by Cook and the Board to, yet again, give the nod to external and irrational forces such as the stock market. These guys are recklessly and multi-handedly desecrating Steve Jobs's legacy (TheStreet). This is just another example of Apple losing its way, operating like every other company.


Come up with something novel. Think different. Apple has stooped to the point where it has to "reward" shareholders with stuff right out of the MBA textbook. Dividends. Buybacks. Zero imagination.


If Tim Cook really wants to tie his pay to performance, why doesn't he use unit sales of Apple's next big piece of hardware as the benchmark, not a market index that's coming off of one of history's biggest bull runs?


More from

Jun 24, 2013 1:44PM
Apple is now a value stock. I did not invest until it fell from speculation. It now attracts a different investor than before. It is merely a broken stock, not a broken company. It will be a utility, a dividend payer such as McDonalds or BP or Microsoft.
Jun 25, 2013 12:35AM
One thing I do agree with is that anybody's pay should be linked to performance.  No company that loses money to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars and having to borrow money from the government should be allowed to pay their corporate execs. million dollar bonuses.  That is rewarding somebody for doing a bad job.  An executive that allows his company to suffer bad losses should not receive such huge salaries and then a multi-million dollar bonus on top of it.  That is totally stealing from its customers and its employees on the lower rungs of the ladder.
Jun 24, 2013 11:06PM
The "Greatest company..." B.S'd it's way to being bailed out a few times and never lived up to the reasons it needed a bailout.  It's not the greatest, the biggest, the best in any way besides being cyclically fashionable.  They took tech and made it fashion.
If the OS is so great, sell it for other comps.  Or else, why did they get bailed out?  They don't sell it, it's not so great, it's simple.  That's why they start up quickly.  Windows is ready to tackle heavy-duty applications that most computer users aren't, and hence it takes longer to boot than people want.
Apple products don't play nice with others, they "are too good" to bother with usb slots, they're overpriced...
Stop comp-riding one company that wanted to take tech down the artsy-fartsy road instead of a more rational route and get your head out of your port. 
Real tech people haven't liked Apple for a long time.

Jun 24, 2013 3:57PM
First movers don't always become long term winners. The technology landscape is littered with AOL, CompuAdd, DEC, Digital Research, Lotus, Netscape, Novell, Yahoo and WordPerfect to name just a few. They all design and invented first but failed in the longer run.
Jun 25, 2013 12:39AM

Agree completely. One of life's defining principles is as follows:  Everything flows from the head (of business, government, etc.)


It is a sad fact that the head of Apple, Steve Jobs is no longer at the helm and adhering to that principle... Apple will never be the same... ever. 


Similarly, I saw the same thing happen at another great Silicon Valley mover and shaker... as I was blessed to work for HP for 20 years. When Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard took their last breath, so did the greatness of HP.


Time to move on...





Apple puts pieces from other companies together, then sells the conglomerate for more than it is worth.  Of course it is worth what people are willing to pay for it.


Looks like people are wising up and finding out Apple's competitors are also putting those same pieces from those same companies together to make a similar (same) product.  Now who will sell it for the least amount?  Apple's mistake was to start issuing Dividends.  They will run out of the money they were famously known for.   


They are now no better or worse than Samsung or Blackberry, Dell or HP.  


"They are us!"

Jun 24, 2013 11:07PM
Cook is a slave driver, hypocritical, POS, loser. It's called Foxconn and he set it up under the direction of the "Little Hitler" wannabe, Jobs. Another POS. 
Jun 25, 2013 7:39AM
Tying exec pay to performance is good (although incentivizing the whole staff in that manner is even better). Using stock price rather than net profits & unit sales as the yardstick of that performance is what is bad.
Jun 25, 2013 11:06AM

Good concept, bad integration. Profitability is what makes a company successful, not the number of "untis of hardware" sold. CEO's should be compensated on the profitability of the company they steer, not their gross number of widgets sold on the open market. Apple has always made huge profits on the basis that their product is cooler than any of the others. Apple created the demand, and received heavy profits per unti sold (now that is how you make money). As with all things cool, its very difficult to remain cool (look at all the boy bands and teenybopper singers). Apple has been able to define gadget markets and be the leader of (I need this NOW) mentality of the consumer.  IPhone, IPad, IPad mini, IPod, etc..


Now, the market has caught up with them in coolness. There are other options that function better, have better attributes, and cost less. Consumers no longer feel the need to overpay for technology that is no longer unique in the market place. There are other tablets that do more and cost less. There are other smart phones that do more and cost less. We know that there are many other laptops that perform better and cost much less, not to mention the old desk top business work horse. There are many companies that invent the sector, but cannot keep the competition from nipping at its heels. Apple needs to re-invent another sector and run with it. However, with so many other tech companies understanding the tech market, they may not be able to be the first and the coolest.

Jun 25, 2013 12:26AM
I read an article about investors of Wall Street not like uncertainty!!!!  Well that's what Wall Street is Uncertainty.  I guess they have adequately described themselves and proved that statement without a doubt!!!!!
Jun 25, 2013 11:27AM
Nothing to do with the leader, has everything to do with people finally realizing Crapple is overpriced Chineese made junk.
Jun 25, 2013 9:04AM
Cheap overpriced foreign made gadgets.  No thanks.  I can get better quality elsewhere.
Jun 24, 2013 3:13PM

If you think you'll be better paid based on another's performance metric than on one of your own, wouldn't you go for it?


What more can the Timster tell you about his view of AAPL's near future?

Jun 25, 2013 7:57AM
The author point is too non free market for me. The question is only "Are the owners better off?"  If I own company stock and the price goes up, I made money. To the extent that management caused the stock to go up, they should be rewarded regardless of whether they sold more product or not.  Units of hardware are not the issue. Money in the bank is.  If you make me better off I'm happy to put something nice in your Christmas stocking.  Of course if you cause the stock to drop, you should get coal  in that stocking.
Jun 25, 2013 12:27AM
Why? Because Cook likes to play the ups and downs that the Stock Market is!!!!!!!!!!!
Tim Cook is trying to be PC.  Who ever got ahead being PC?
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