A proposal by the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) made at Apple’s Feb. 28 shareholder meeting marked the first time that CEO Tim Cook let himself become visibly angry in front of the people that bet on Apple to turn a profit.
During yesterday’s shareholder meeting, a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research asked Apple CEO Tim Cook to disclose the cost of its environmental efforts, recommending a cut-back on those endeavors that are affecting the company’s bottom line.
According to those present at the meeting, the soft-spoken Tim Cook that everyone knows and loves, transformed.
Pundit Bryan Chaffin recounts, “What ensued was the only time I can recall seeing Tim Cook angry, and he categorically rejected the worldview behind the NCPPR's advocacy. He said 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.”
In my own seven-year reporting on Apple I’ve never encountered a Tim Cook quote containing anything that even remotely resembled profanity. But there’s a first for everything. Responding to Justin Danhof, Esq., director of the National Center's Free Enterprise Project, Cook let out what can be considered the CEO’s first reported meltdown.
According to dozens of reports covering the discussions in the meeting, Cook said (emphasis mine), “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don't consider the bloody ROI.”
He said the same thing about Apple’s environmental affairs and worker safety, and then he completely let Danhof have it: “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.”
In other words, your money is no longer welcome at Apple, Danhof.
Unsurprisingly, the NCPPR followed with a press release titled “Tim Cook to Apple Investors: Drop Dead.” Almost every single paragraph in that report basically says that Tim Cook puts the planet first and profits second, essentially shooting itself in the foot. It’s embedded below, just in case you want to read through the whole thing top to bottom.
Words like “antics” and “agitated” are used to describe Cook’s attitude towards the questionable proposal. Here’s one key paragraph from the report (watch the emphasis).
“Here's the bottom line,” Danhof continues. “Apple is as obsessed with the theory of so-called climate change as its board member Al Gore is. The company's CEO fervently wants investors who care more about return on investments than reducing CO2 emissions to no longer invest in Apple. Maybe they should take him up on that advice.”
Maybe they should. Didn’t Cook make that clear already? Not that he even had to - the NCPPR’s proposal received just 2.95 percent of the shareholder’s votes.
Here’s another one:
“Although the National Center's proposal did not receive the required votes to pass, millions of Apple shareholders now know that the company is involved with organizations that don't appear to have the best interest of Apple's investors in mind,” said Danhof. “Too often investors look at short-term returns and are unaware of corporate policy decisions that may affect long-term financial prospects. After today's meeting, investors can be certain that Apple is wasting untold amounts of shareholder money to combat so-called climate change. The only remaining question is: how much?”
In other words, don’t be fooled by Al Gore, or anyone else for that matter, who tells you that humanity is capable of destroying the biosphere. Carbon dioxide is just as breathable.
Sarcasm aside, Al Gore gore has little to do with the fact that Apple has some deeply rooted values. The Mac maker has him on the board of directors precisely because he’s on par with the company’s philosophy, while Gore himself considers Apple a driving force that can help him get the message across. If Apple puts the planet first, that doesn’t mean profits come second. With a bit of patience and good will, both aspects can converge.
And here's something I think everyone deserves to know. Gore won an Oscar for his documentary on climate change, "An Inconvenient Truth" (well, technically the director did) and he’s a Nobel Prize winner as well. Unless they’re handing out these awards to lunatics, I’d say Gore’s presence on the board of directors only strengthens Apple's case.
The NCPPR continues to sing the “so-called” tune throughout the press release, as if its sole purpose is to debunk rumors that using the world’s resources to turn a profit has no impact on the environment whatsoever. Even the cartoon Captain Planet will tell you this is utter nonsense, let alone scientific studies, let alone common sense. We knew this stuff as children!
“Rather than opting for transparency, Apple opposed the National Center's resolution,” Danhof continued. “Apple's actions, from hiring of President Obama's former head of the Environmental Protection Agency Lisa Jackson, to its investments in supposedly 100 percent renewable data centers, to Cook's antics at today's meeting, appear to be geared more towards combating so-called climate change rather than developing new and innovative phones and computers.”
Trying to hit Apple where it hurts, are we Danhof? The NCPPR will pick on just about any feeble piece of speculation regarding Apple's “so-called” lagging pace of innovation to help reinforce a dollar-signed point. But the bottom line remains that Cook told Danhof to scram, and 97% of the shareholders agreed with the southerner.
Worst of all, at the end of the NCPPR’s press release, they ask for your money like the beggars that they are (screenshot below). You’d think at least this one time they could leave out the donation button. Not to say Tim Cook was right about everything in that shareholder meeting, but it’s pretty clear who puts the ozone layer first.