A new analysis by Bloomberg finds that the net worth of Apple CEO Tim Cook has passed the $1 billion mark, officially making him a billionaire. It’s certainly an impressive number, but assuming it’s just over $1 billion, he’s got a long way to go before he catches up to the other CEOs on the Bloomberg Billionaires list. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, tops the list at $187 billion, followed by former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates at $121 billion, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook at $102 billion. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is only No. 10 on the list, but even he is well ahead of Cook at $68.7 billion.
Yes, these are obscene amounts of money, and it’s difficult to comprehend how wealthy Bezos is (especially during a pandemic with a 10 percent unemployment rate and evaporating economic relief). Who cares? It’s a bunch of rich guys getting richer, right? Well, these are the guys — and the list is overwhelmingly men; the first woman on the list is Alice Walton at No. 16, with $57.1 billion — who run the world’s most valuable companies and influence our lives in myriad ways. As reporter Kashmir Hill has documented, it’s nearly impossible to completely extricate oneself from the economy that Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple have built.
Cook is a bit of an unusual case among the three comma club, though, because he didn’t found Apple, and it’s rare for any non-founder CEO to become a billionaire. But Cook arguably built Apple into the most valuable publicly traded company in the world, beating out Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company just this July. Cook spent many years at the company and rebuilt its supply chain using “just-in-time” manufacturing principles, like reducing inventory, after Steve Jobs hired him away from Compaq to be Apple’s COO. By most accounts, Cook has taken a more measured, cautious approach than his predecessor, but Apple’s revenue and profit have both more than doubled since he became CEO.
How that legacy of Apple-building will hold up over time isn’t clear; at the moment, Apple and other companies with big manufacturing operations and customer bases in China are trying to determine how President Trump’s ban on some Chinese companies will affect them. But Apple is rolling right along for the time being; its recent third quarter earnings showed it’s thriving amid the pandemic that has gutted many other companies. In its third quarter, Apple had $59.7 billion in revenue, an 11 percent bump from a year ago. And it’s approaching a market cap of $2 trillion.