Tim Cook's 2011 pay from Apple is relatively old news, but my intention is that 2012 is not necessarily a year for simple news aggregation in this blog.
On the face of it, a pay package approaching $400 million is a matter for the 99%, a re-call to arms from the current détente in class warfare. Whilst we are as unlikely to see an Occupy One Infinite Loop as much a boycott of iDevices, it will be interesting to see how Apple's perception amongst the politically motivated changes. With the death of Steve Jobs and Apple's near-$400 billion market cap, can it maintain its status as a cultural icon without approaching the corporate ugliness of big pharma or the auto giants?
At the heart of Tim Cook's payday is the notion that talent needs to be retained at any cost. Apple more than any other company needs to assure the market that it has a visionary at the helm. This mythology was maintained by the dazzling psychic leadership of Steve Jobs. Indeed Apple's chief corporate hurdle in the last 12 months wasn't competing with Android, but rather the notion of succession. Luckily they still have Jonny Ive or the genesis, evolution and future of all Mac and iOS devices would have left with Mr Jobs. Despite Jonny Ive, it always seemed that Steve Jobs owned the products, that they were less a product of Apple's employees or manufacturing contractors than of his own mind.
The bejewelled handcuffs that Apple's board have lightly applied to Tim Cook's wrists are as much a desperate statement of belief in the anointed successor as they are an incentive. Apple needs the billionaire CEO, a man whose entire fortune and métier are entwined with the company. They don't want a hotshot chief executive for hire. They don't want a loyal lieutenant promoted modestly to the top job, even though that is exactly what Tim Cook is.
Apple, in my opinion, have painted themselves into a corner by trying to mythicise Tim Cook. The passing of Steve Jobs was an opportunity for investors to see Apple as an organisation capable of performing with any talented CEO at the helm. Trying to make a god of Tim Cook could turn out to be a monumental error if he ends up being merely mediocre, being merely human.