Born in Alabama in 1960, Tim Cook graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and earned an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Following a 12-year career at IBM, Cook went on to executive roles at Intelligent Electronics and Compaq, before joining Apple in 1998. In August 2011, Cook was named Apple’s new CEO, following the death of predecessor Steve Jobs.
In October 2014, Cook confirmed in an opinion piece he wrote for Bloomberg Businessweek that he is gay. “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” he wrote. “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
Cook also wrote that he is inspired by these words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” He explained that his decision to put his personal privacy aside and make his sexual orientation public was an important step in advocating for human rights and equality for all.
In November 2011, Cook was named one of Forbes magazine’s “World’s Most Powerful People.” According to an April 2012 article in The New York Times, Cook was the highest-paid CEO among large publicly traded companies in 2012. While his salary at the time amounted to around $900,000, Cook in 2011 reportedly made $378 million in total compensation from stock awards and bonuses. In 2015, he announced that after paying for his nephew’s college education, he would donate the rest of his fortune to philanthropic projects.