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Apple CEO Tim Cook Is Increasingly Flexing His Muscles

Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook speaks from the stage during Apple Inc's media event in Cupertino
Stephen Lam—Reuters

Not afraid to value things more than mere profit

Tim Cook is getting more comfortable channelling the Steve Jobs’s patented self-righteousness. At the company’s annual shareholders meeting last week, the Apple CEO chafed at a request that Apple commit to not engaging in environmental initiatives that don’t have a positive return on investment.

The proposal came from a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank. Apple has a publicly stated goal of powering all its facilities completely with renewable energy in the future, a policy that could weigh down the company’s profits. Upon receiving the question, Cook became “visibly agitated,” according to the think tank, and defended Apple’s right to make business decisions that don’t always directly benefit the bottom line. “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI,” Cook said, according to the Mac Observer. “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.”

The statement was the latest in a string of power-flexing moves by Apple and its CEO. The company resisted constant pressure from activist investor Carl Icahn to buy back $150 billion worth of its shares, and actively campaigned to convince investors to vote against such a measure. Icahn backed off the proposal in February. Apple also pressured Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer last month to veto a bill that would have allowed businesses in the state to deny service to gays and lesbians for religious reasons.

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