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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 @09:37AM (#46375089)

    He is, and his "bosses" voted down the suggestion raised by NCPPR.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:40AM (#46375103)

    The stockholders voted with Cook, saying that they, the owners of Apple, want their company to be environmentally responsible AND to acquiesce to government mandating how they do so. That puts him on solid legal ground, I believe.

    What would get Cook in trouble would be putting his OWN well-being ahead of stockholder interests. If Apple were paying TimCook Inc a billion dollars for green services, that would be a problem. Cook is carrying out the expressed wishes of the stockholders, and is not enriching himself at their expense.

  • Re:You got it buddy! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wingsy (761354) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:45AM (#46375145)
    You should have bought 1000 shares like I did. As of today it's value is 1200% higher than the day I bought it. That pisses you off, doesn't it?
  • by DarkOx (621550) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @10:32AM (#46375343) Journal

    The problem is the Think Tank guys have left the reservation. Conservatives used to believe that most people were basically good and when given choices they will do the right thing. They also used to believe it was wrong to force people to do things and because of that first belief it was also unnecessary to force people to do things. Let the market work, let people become more affluent, which leads to more choices and they will make good choices. They also at one point thought people rational.

    Rational people understand money is not the only form of wealth. Its also good to have clean air to breath, safe water to drink, and quality food to eat. In that sense environmentalism is actually a conservative issue. These things are of course a matter of degree. Its much easier to decide to spend more on the same amount of energy because its at least ostensibly "greener" when you are having most of your other needs thoroughly satisfied. Affluence should make us better people; something I still believe. Which is why as a conservative or libertarian or whatever you want to call me I am thrilled to see companies like Apple doing this stuff of there own will.

    It validates my beliefs. They are making choices freely that can benefit not just their future but potentially the future of others. They are doing so against a back drop of wild success, in one of the least regulated industries (tech).

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:08PM (#46375853) Homepage Journal

    Agree with "This has been the first thing Apple has done . . . I might want to own one of their products."

    I've never liked Apple very much, but never disliked them very much either. They do some things that I like, they do other things that I dislike, and mostly I don't give a damn about them because their bling is over priced.

    But - this really is a huge reason to like them. "If you don't like our policies, don't invest". Blunt and to the point.

    I don't even care as much as some people about "green". Green is probably good, but hey, I just can't bring myself to care a whole lot. But, if Apple thinks green is important enough to invest in, so be it. If you don't agree, don't invest. Then, we're all cool!

  • by IgnorantMotherFucker (3394481) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:13PM (#46375883) Homepage

    The CEO of a company - whether public or not - is expected to make certain decisions completely on his or her own.

    Like the captain of a ship. Consider that all the captains of the US missile submarine fleet have the authority to nuke President Putin back to the stone ages should the sub ever lose communications with their commanders in the Pentagon.

    Like the captain of a ship, the CEO of a company can be relieved of command, should - NOT the stockholders but THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS - feel he or she is doing a bad job.

    Like say, when the Apple board tossed Steve Jobs out on his ear, put Woz out to pasture, scouted around for a more multinational kinda brand-oriented guy, brought in John Scully, who proceeded to lay off four thousand of my coworkers back when I was doing MacTCP QA for Apple, because he'd never actually used a computer in his entire life before hiring on at the Cupertino Fruit Company.

    Rly. I still have my Apple Employee Loan-to-Own PowerMac 8500. That tradition got started specifically because of Scully not knowing how to use a computer. That was actually a common problem back in the day. Actually it still is; I know of some guy whose computer was running real slow, because he hide NINE Internet Explorer toolbars. But I digress.

    Now suppose Timmy-baby really wasn't doing his job, but the board backed him. Then the job of the shareholders would be to elect a new board. That's one of the things they often do at these shareholder meetings. It would be up to a vote of the board to replace the CEO.

    As for those who object to Apple's green policies. Consider how many citizens of the People's Republic of China work for Apple, or for one of Apple's suppliers such as FoxConn. I expect that - indirectly - far more people work for Apple in the PRC than do in the whole rest of the world put together.

    The air in China used to be pretty clean because the people lived in a very simple manner, they didn't own many consumer products, they all dressed in olive drab and rode bicycles to work and school. Even Ambassador George Herbert Walker Bush rode his bike to the embassy in Peking!

    While nominally still Communist, actually it is quite likely the closest to unfettered capitalism of anywhere on the planet. Without the slightest thought towards urban planning, there are factories everywhere, everyone who has a good job has a nice car, and a nice place to live. Thus they had that one hundred mile long traffic jam that lasted a week.

    China gets most of its energy from coal. It is plentiful there. They import coal as well; there is a controversial proposal to build a coal terminal where I now live in Vancouver, Washington, so coal mined in Montana can be loaded onto cargo ships then transported to China.

    This had the eventual result that I recently saw the most amazing photograph. I don't have a link but maybe I can dig it up then post it in a reply.

    The smog is so thick in many Chinese cities that one cannot see the sky, certainly not the sunrise.

    So along the busy streets, in the early mornings, they have installed very large video screens that show the rising Sun.

    The photo I saw, the video on that screen was so beautiful, but the smog was so thick that the people couldn't see more than maybe thirty feet. That's why the life expectancy in Beijing has gone down by fifteen years.

    I don't know that Tim Cook is worrying about his Chinese employees, or those of his Chinese vendors, but if he wants FoxConn to keep assembling iDevices, they can't all be dropping dead of emphysema can they? Grandpa Crawford died of that, he spent his last five years on a portable oxygen tank. It's a nasty way to go.

  • Re: NCPPR (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rnturn (11092) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:55PM (#46376105)

    I will likely never buy an Apple product, I would like to shake Cook's hand for the way he pushed back against the NCPPR. It's about time these "Profits Uber Alles!" twits got their behinds handed to them.

    Of course, who wants to bet on how long it is before the NCPPR begins pushing for a shareholder proposal to have Cook removed as CEO? "How dare he waste money that we could be squirreling away in our offshore accounts on that dirty, hippie stuff like Green Initiatives?"

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @01:28PM (#46376335)
    Those 'conservatives' at the meeting were really agitating for Apple to make decisions based on their short-term ROI rather than their long-term ROI. Short-term decisions are necessary but a healthy company rarely does them. For example, many companies, including Apple, spend a lot of money on research. Research costs a lot of money, has an uncertain return on the expenditure, and a lot of time passes before that return is ever realized. From a short-term perspective, companies should never spend money on research but should instead just pass all of the money on to their shareholders. Yet, if companies operated in that way, they would go out of business fairly quickly. So...that is the beauty of the free enterprise system. It leaves companies free to operate in what they see as their overall best long-term interests and often, those are as Apple's Tim Cook presented them rather than as the 'conservative' shareholders wanted. When shareholders gain too much influence over the daily operations and decisions of the company, it usually leads to the company's demise as shareholders seek to transfer cash assets to their pockets and leave the company limping along and struggling to continue. However, that just means that the company's competitors pick up the business that the wounded company can no longer compete for. Ultimately, it's a self-correcting system, as long as there is a competitive marketplace with no one company grown so large as to monopolize all of the business.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @02:37PM (#46376801) Journal

    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.

    Directors and officers of a corporation have a fiduciary duty to the stockholders to run the company in their interest.

    This USUALLY means trying to maximize return on investment. But the sotckholders may want other things, in addition to or in place of, financial gain. When this is the case, the duty requires them to set their own target appropriately.

    This is not uncommon: Think "green energy company" or "church" for two examples. The Bell Telephone company, started by Alexander G. out of his research into hearing aids, has always done work on assisting the hearing impaired. Hershey's, at the direction of its founder, is owned by a trust and 30% of its profits go to support a school for orphans.

    One typical strategy is to "satisfice", rather than maximize, financial gain, while pursuing other interests. This produces a sound financial base for pursuing those interests. (i.e. Hershey's, churches, "green companies"...) Another is to do things that are win-win with respect to the business (i.e. Bell Telephone, doing things like designing phones to work well with hearing aids, make ringing sounds that are auddible to the partially deaf and light-flashing ringer devices, and otherwise making the phone system accessable to hearing impaired.)

    As you point out, these approaches may also lead to financial benefits that typical businesses and business-school graduate executives miss in their pursuit of the short-term bottom line. Good will, new inventions, synergies, etc.

    Another example: Hershey's, not constrained or incentivized by short-term bottom-line, doesn't use typical industrial-food ingredients such as corn syrup, or follow other food-processing fads. It sticks with basic, high quality, time-proven, ingredients and recipies. This produces a consistent product (which also forms the base for consumer recipies) and a loyal customer base. (No "New Coke" debacle or gradual deterioration of product quality over decades with this company.)

  • by multimediavt (965608) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @04:57PM (#46377651)

    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?

    Oh how wonderfully responsible a democracy would be if that were true. Many a politician would have literally been hanged if that were the case. If you look carefully at how public corporations work you will find that the publicly available shares will never amount to controlling interest in a corporation. The hostile take over days of the 1980s taught any smart company to never let more than 49.9% of their public stock to be held by any investor. You make sure that management and private equity firms own the 50.1%. Or, you buy back stock to manage that ratio. Corporations are not democracies, nor are they moral. They operate on hard numbers or they die. If it didn't make financial sense Apple wouldn't do it. That's one thing I know is their primary M.O. If there isn't revenue to support it, it doesn't happen inside Apple.

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

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