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Tim Cook: If You Don't Like Our Energy Policies, Don't Buy Apple Stock 348

Posted by timothy
from the quantifiable-vs-unquantifiable dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Nick Statt reports at Cnet that at Apple's annual shareholder meeting Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook shot down the suggestion from a conservative, Washington, DC-based think tank that Apple give up on environmental initiatives that don't contribute to the company's bottom line. The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), hasn't taken kindly to Apple's increasing reliance on green energy and said so in a statement issued to Apple ahead of the meeting. 'We object to increased government control over company products and operations, and likewise mandatory environmental standards,' said NCPPR General Counsel Justin Danhof demanding that the pledge be voted on at the meeting. 'This is something [Apple] should be actively fighting, not preparing surrender.' Cook responded that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues. 'When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind. I don't consider the bloody ROI,' said Cook. 'We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive, We want to leave the world better than we found it.' Danhof's proposal was voted down and to any who found the company's environmental dedication either ideologically or economically distasteful, Cook advised 'if you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.'"
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Tim Cook: If You Don't Like Our Energy Policies, Don't Buy Apple Stock

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:27AM (#46375049)

    The stockholders own the company. If the stockholders want the energy policy changed, then you do as your bosses say.

  • Cook is right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:33AM (#46375071)

    Surely energy policies are about creating a feel-good aspect to the brand. Plus if you learn something along the way by trying perhaps you can commercialize it and it takes you off on another wild ride, like the iPhone did.

    Just because they don't understand it, doesn't mean they can run the company better.

  • by tramp (68773) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:38AM (#46375095)
    The best interest of the shareholders is not always ROI in terms of money. Par example think of continuity which is far more important then short term profits.
  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:40AM (#46375105)

    One more reason that I wont ever buy another apple product

    Tim Cook telling these right-wing psychopaths to piss off is surely a reason to avoid buying Apple products.

    What kind of bullshit is this? Extremist climate change deniers turning up in the Apple shareholder meeting, and trying to foist their idiotic "profit above anything" agenda on Apple, getting the response they deserve (actually, not _quite_ what they deserve, corporal punishment is what they deserve), and that makes you want to avoid Apple products?

  • by hoboroadie (1726896) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:41AM (#46375107)

    If you had read TFS, you might have perceived that the shareholders voted in support of Tim's position.
    What's with the FoxNews shills nowadays? Has slashdot been flagged by the NSA for enhanced interference?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:41AM (#46375109)

    Unless you are running the company, you don't know what is in the best interest of the shareholders. I can think of quite a few cases where a company did what the shareholders wanted to the ultimate detriment of the company! (Think Dell, or Seagate...) Sometimes the best interest of the shareholder is to do things that either won't pay off for a long time, or will maybe never directly make any change to the share price, but will put the company in a better position for future growth, or appeal to a larger market. There are a lot of factors going on here, but the ROI to shareholders in my opinion is at the bottom of the barrel as long as he isn't damaging the company. As far as I am concerned, shareholders should be investing in a company because they like the direction the company is going. Attempting to muck around in that process for personal gain will ALWAYS be detrimental to the company.

  • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:41AM (#46375113)

    And you seem to have forgotten how to follow the money. Those profits don't come out of thin air. Public opinion is entirely within the interests of stockholders and company owners. When shareholders become absolute greedy fucks they need a smack upside the head so they get some perspective.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:44AM (#46375129)

    And that's a valid reason for not changing the policy, but instead he basically tells owners of the company that they should sell their stock (or not buy it in the first place) if they want the course of the company changed. That's completely illogical, as someone who doesn't have stock in the company doesn't have a vote to change the company's direction.

  • by aitikin (909209) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:44AM (#46375131)

    So far there aren't many comments here, but all of them are sitting here flaming Tim Cook. No where in the articles linked did it say that shareholders (as a group) wanted this. In fact, if you RTA (the last linked one), you'll see that it received less than 3% of the vote. But people who are too afraid to post under a user name are also apparently all too happy to post that Cook is doing a disservice to his shareholders, even though the overwhelming majority of said shareholders agree with him.

    So what should those that don't do? Buy something else. I don't get why people who are seemingly for the free market are up in arms about a company doing something their way and telling people that if they don't like it, they can go somewhere else. Just because the ROI in one company might not be as high as possible (according to a think tank, not a court of public opinion by any stretch, which is where Apple exceeds), doesn't mean that the company is doing a disservice to its shareholders, unless those shareholders are in it for the shortest term possible.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:44AM (#46375135)

    Even if his policies are bad, 97.5% of stockholders voted to do it his way. The owners want to be green, so green it is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:45AM (#46375139)

    Tim Cook is the CEO. His job is strategic planning: seeing where market trends are going, where technology is headed and the economy - including energy costs in the future - as best as humanly possible since nobody is clairvoyant.

    The long term trend for the cost of fossil fuels is up. Even with all the "new" found oil and gas in the Continental US the price will go up. Why? Demand outstrips supply.

    Asia. Those billions of people want to live like us Americans and we use 25% of the World's oil - for about 300 million people.

    The oil companies are sucking it out of the ground as fast as they find it - well, including the time it takes to get a well producing, but you get my drift. In other words, the demand is increasingly MUCH faster than supply and unless some HUGE (another Saudi Arabia) economically viable reserve is found, oil and gas are going to go nowhere but up for the foreseeable future.

    Green energy will continue to go down in price because many folks see the writing on the wall and frankly, some prefer clean air and water to profit.

    Even the commie Chinese are investing heavily in green energy.

    So, what does this mean for Apple? If they want to stay competitive in the future, they BETTER go green.

  • by augahyde (1016980) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:46AM (#46375151)
    Are you familiar with the law? It doesn't define best interest. Not all shareholders a motivated purely by profit. Those that are motivated as such had an opportunity to vote him out of power (the law is on their side for that), but they couldn't garner enough interest.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:54AM (#46375181)

    A nut job with an agenda and few stocks so he can into th meeting isn't his boss, he's just a troll
    Putting him down probably did good for the stock

  • by TWX (665546) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:55AM (#46375183)
    It's also wise to remember how Apple has fared over the years when it attempted to follow mainstream practices. Those years were usually when Steve Jobs wasn't involved and the management attempted to follow the business practices of others. On ended up with a company that tried to be SGI and Packard Bell at the same time, with predicable results.

    Cook appears to have learned at least a bit of the lessons of those eras. He doesn't have to do what the alleged professionals in the business community claim to be best practices; Apple has made a lot more money over the last fifteen or so years by bucking the trend and continually changing. Don't get me wrong, my ownership of Apple products is limited to a few castoff keyboards and I'm certainly no fanboi, but they've managed to build a successful, profitable company by doing what their customers, not necessarily the business community, wants.

    It's kind of like how Costco is doing well, by paying employees actual living wages so those employees work at the stores until retirement as opposed to being bled dry by corporate interest. Costco still makes money, Costco is popular among customers, employees are happy, owners are happy, and things will continue to be long-term stable for them.

    If Cook manages to keep Apple going strong in the wake of Jobs' demise then this will be interesting to watch.
  • by teg (97890) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:56AM (#46375185) Homepage

    not only does apple control everything about the phones we buy, but they think they can tell the owners to fuck off? One more reason that I wont ever buy another apple product

    The owners agreed with Cook - the right wing loonie didn't get support from the rest of the shareholders [gizmodo.com]. Which makes sense, as Apple needs not only to have the current premium products associated with its brand, but align with its potential customers - and above all, avoid really bad associations [youtube.com]. Or just being boring [dailymotion.com].

    Image is very important for premium brands [wikibranding.net] - and that's what the majority of the shareholders wants Tim Cook to continue to cultivate, alongside its innovation focus.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:56AM (#46375189) Journal
    Will you people just stop with the "owners" bullshit, are people really this ignorant about how a public company operates? Cook is a substantial shareholder, the other owners listened carefully to both sides, then promptly told the other guy to fuck off. This is a non story, voting down idiots at a shareholders meeting is routine business.
  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:59AM (#46375195)

    oh you are correct, the stock holders voted no question. but the way he handeled it was wrong, you dont insult your bosses ,regardless if they are majority or not. All he did was contribute to the idea that apple is full of smug

    Did you ever watch "The Blues Brothers"? The scene where they demonstrate what's the proper way to treat neo nazis? Tim Cook has done the same thing here. A right-wing group calling themselves a "Think Tank", trying to push their disgusting right-wing agenda in a company's share holder meeting, and they get told off.

    Yes, Apple is truly evil for using solar panels instead of polluting the environment by burning coal in Northern Carolina.

  • by rmstar (114746) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @10:06AM (#46375241)

    while we can argue the merits of AGW all day long that isnt what I saw here. I saw a smug son of a bitch tell an owner to go fuck himself.

    No, the owner went way too far. Being an owner does not entitle you to behave like a pig.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2014 @10:40AM (#46375379)

    so in other words, some owners have more say than others, depending on their view... got it.....

    Actually based on the percentage of shares that they own, some owners have more say than others. This think tank probably had a nominal stake in the company.

    Cook knew that he had a very large majority of the stock holders of backing him (97.5%), or he wouldn't have picked the fight. The CEO can decide to do things that don't look like they have short term gains from an ROI perspective, but can contribute to the long term success of the company. This is actually what good CEO's should do.

    I personally would feel better about investing in a company that is looking at sustainability for the long term.

  • by Soulskill (1459) Works for Slashdot on Saturday March 01, 2014 @10:48AM (#46375413) Homepage

    I prefer the lack of diplomacy, personally. It stands in stark contrast to most of the public statements Tim Cook makes about the company, which are usually run through the PR/Marketing polisher within an inch of their lives.

    Of course, the skeptical part of me wonders if this response was planned, to some extent. Not necessarily word-for-word, but the result of some foresight: "What's a good response if somebody says this isn't helping our profitability?" The line about ROI for accessibility struck me as a bit too pat.

  • by SpockLogic (1256972) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @10:58AM (#46375465)

    HEADLINE

    Right Wing Ideologues looking for Publicity get their asses handed to them.

    The NCPPR were only trying to raise their own profile by attacking Apple's policy, nothing more.

  • by zippthorne (748122) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @11:16AM (#46375553) Journal

    But.. what is green energy? Most of the things I've seen so far have been about as credible in terms of improving whatever "green" metric they claim to address as the products in the "nutrition supplements" aisle at the local drug store.

    In a lot of places, the "green" solutions address only one real issue - satisfaction of some tax rule in order to allow the participant to enjoy a credit or to have tax-power-by-proxy. For instance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org] Deepwater Wind has legislated ability to "sell" its electricity to the grid at 24 cents per kWh in a state where the current retail rate is currently about 8 cents per kWh (6 cents commercial).

    That's not about green energy, that's taxing power that has been granted to a private entity over the rate payers. Worse, what stops them from the outright fraud of pulling power off the grid at the retail rate and returning it to the grid at their grossly inflated rate?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2014 @11:20AM (#46375569)

    This is all about raising money for the think tank. They get to tell their supporters that they stood up to the hated Al Gore, who is on Apple's board. Watch the donations flow in over this.

  • No, Tim Cook should be praised because he stood up to the right-wing idiots and told them where to stuff it, instead of treating them like an equal partner in a sensible debate.

    The right-wing thinktanks have been flooding debates with PR puff pieces (also known as 'lies') instead of facts, and it is high time they got called on it.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @11:48AM (#46375729) Homepage

    Which is wrong. The executives and board need to be legally liable. shareholders need to be financially liable based on the percentage of stock held.

    Corperations run out of control because they have been given a legal license to break the law whenever they want without recourse.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:05PM (#46375837)

    Which is wrong. The executives and board need to be legally liable.

    Then you will not have a corporation. The ENTIRE point of a corporation is to separate personal liability from ownership. No one in their right mind would agree to accept unlimited personal liability for the actions of an entire company, most of which they do not control. Make the executives and board liable for all actions and corporations will cease to exist which is a Very Bad Thing.

    shareholders need to be financially liable based on the percentage of stock held.

    They are financially at risk. If the company goes belly up, the shareholders are last in line to get paid. They carry the most risk. Bondholders are typically first in line to get paid from any bankruptcy or liquidation.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:28PM (#46375965) Homepage Journal

    Sweet reason, or even simple politeness, doesn't work with the kind of self-righteous ideological nutballs who make up NCPPR. "Fuck off" is the only kind of response that will get through to them.

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:39PM (#46376025) Journal

    An investor is not an owner. The money he paid for the stock did not go to Apple, it went to some other market player.

    Consider buying a car. If you bought a used car, you did not pay the manufacturer. Using your logic, you would not own the car.

    Just because someone who buys a share of Apple stock did not buy it directly from Apple does not mean that Apple did not originally benefit from the first sale (or grant) of the stock. It did. In the case of an IPO, a company is selling stock. The company receives money in exchange for that stock. The stock is now an asset that can be re-sold. In the case of employee stock, the company is paying the employee with stock in lieu of paying cash, so the company is trading its stock for the work of the employee -- the company received a benefit in exchange for stock which is now an an asset that can be re-sold

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @01:15PM (#46376253)

    The best interest of the shareholders is not always ROI in terms of money.

    In this case it almost certainly was. Apple is not a big energy consumer, so they get their green credentials without much cost. People buy Apple products, at least in part, because of the brand status. Being green helps that brand image, and lets them charge premium prices.

    Par example think of continuity which is far more important then short term profits.

    ROI is not just "short term". The biggest stock market investors, by far, are pension funds, which have investment horizons of many decades.

  • by Smurf (7981) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @01:51PM (#46376503)

    The parent post has been labeled as funny... ...but it's actually quite sad.

  • Stockholders do not manage the company. They vote for the board of directors, which manages the rest. Only in special circumstances, like an offer to privatize the company, do the votes have any direct effect.

    Then they aren't held accountable for what they told the company to do.

    Should citizen voters be liable for prison time if they elect a senator who turns out to be corrupt?

  • by killkillkill (884238) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @02:39PM (#46376815)
    Of course they voted it down, their energy policy is good marketing for their target audience. The bottom line is still the reason for the policy.
  • by raymorris (2726007) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @02:51PM (#46376891)

    "Investor" is a subset of "human", so investors want the things that humans want. To "think as an investor" means to think as a human being. Dollars are not the only thing human investors want, so the ROI isn't measured only in dollars.

      I own the most of the stock in one company, which gives me control of the company. I don't work there, so I don't make the day-to-day decisions, but I could fire the people who make the day-to-day decisions, so they listen to me on the big stuff. I regularly make decisions as the primary investor which negative or neutral to profits. Some things are more important than money. I believe that money is a tool, a means to some end. Money is not an end itself. I, the greedy capitalist pig, make money so that I can use that money to be of service to people. If the company can be of great service to people and lose a little bit of money doing so, that's a great deal and we do it. The comparison, the alternative, is how much good we can do if we get the money as profit, give 30% to government, then spend the rest being of service.

  • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @03:39PM (#46377175)

    Of course they voted it down, their energy policy is good marketing for their target audience. The bottom line is still the reason for the policy.

    Sustainability is still a good thing to be going for... regardless of whether they're doing it for marketing reasons, or because they believe that 50 years from now there won't be any more coal fired power plants, doesn't really matter. Investing in renewable energy sources now is the smart thing to do regardless of whether you take an optimistic or pessimistic view of why they're doing it.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @04:03PM (#46377329)
    Sounds like some members of NCPPR wanted to pump and dump Apple, and got told to go fuck themselves.
  • by davester666 (731373) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @04:37PM (#46377539) Journal

    That's what is so funny. Ever since Jobs came back, every quarter, so-called "analysts" keep announcing that Apple must stop doing what they are doing and do what the competition is.

    -make netbooks
    -make cheap computers
    -make cheap phones
    -make cheap tablets [extra ridiculous when the rumors before it was announced were that it would be around $1000 for the cheapest, and the analysts said it would be dead unless it was in the $500 range, then when it was released for $500, they said it was dead unless it was prices $300-$350]
    -give in to carrier demands, so more carriers will sell the iPhone
    -zillions more

    They also announce products are a failure, like the iPhone 5C, which was only the 3rd best selling phone between when it was released and the beginning of Dec [which I could readily find numbers]. So only 1 model [out of hundreds] from a competitor sold better than the 5c in the US and it's a failure.

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @05:08PM (#46377715) Journal

    Of course they voted it down, their energy policy is good marketing for their target audience. The bottom line is still the reason for the policy.

    Actually, as someone who tends towards the conservative side of things, I'm 100% happy to see that Cook said what he did. ROI is not the end-all, be-all of running a company, and worshipping it to the exclusion of all other considerations is a bad thing for any company to do. I also like the sustainability movement they're taking... it's not a "surrender" to "government intrusion" as the NCPPR is claiming. The government has no hand in how a company decides to get its electricity, and a sustainable solution does make good long-term sense.

    Stereotypes aside, he "target audience" is not as homogeneous as you think. I strongly suspect that my ideological leanings clash very hard against those held by the "target audience" you're thinking of, but I mostly prefer Apple's products because they're quite solid, and in my experience last far longer than anything I've ever bought from its competitors. There are exceptions of course (I prefer having an Android phone so I can tinker with it), but overall the "target audience" doesn't buy an iPhone or MacBook Pro because the company is somehow approved by The Right People(tm). I posit that they buy the products either because of the reputation of solid products with excellent customer service, or they buy 'em because of some fashionable cachet.

    Consider a parallel: Linux' old-school maintainers included everything from flaming ideologues for the 'progressive' side (Alan Cox IIRC was among this number), and flaming ideologues for the 'conservative' side (Eric Raymond stands out here, very strongly.) Yet everyone agreed on a few politically-neutral philosophies centered around Open Source, and a strong disdain for the slipshod-but-monopolistic coding practices of a certain dominant competitor.

    Long story short, Apple made their business decisions not out of some stupid political ploy, but have laid out strong and logically sound philosophical reasons for doing what they do. Folks may not agree with them, but at least there they are, and they're not hidden behind some mealy-mouthed corporate-PR-speak.

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @05:12PM (#46377729) Journal

    I agree, with one caveat: As long as the company doesn't go broke pushing for it (or for any other ideological goal).

    Mind you, Apple is certainly in no danger of that, so putting some of their dosh towards renewables is an excellent move for them, so yeah.

  • by MickLinux (579158) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @07:55PM (#46378503) Journal

    Au contraire. It is NOT generally agreed that the purpose of a company is to make money. A company is a joint (corporate) venture whose purpose is whatever the organizing articles say it is.

    You know, you sound like the jerks who bought into IOMEGA back when the standard hard drives were 20meg and IOMG was working on a 100-meg floppy, and said "stop the R&D, give dividends", when the vast majority voted for R&D.

    They then SUED the company for several years, eating up its budget in legal defense, until they stopped the R&D, crashing the stock price from 16 to 2 for a dozen years--there's your malarky about minority protections-- and didn't come out with the zip disk until ten years later.

    Yes, there are minority protections. Cook was very clear and specific about what they were. Clearly the conservatives so named were COMMUNIST conservatives, trying to use overweaning government to eliminate others' freedom.

    Oh, the irony.

  • by Tailhook (98486) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @08:09PM (#46378563)

    Foxconn is Apple morality. They've made exploiting Asia so profitable they can afford to green-wash their domestic operations.

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