Should Apple consider adding new board members?

Should Apple really be adding board members?

Considering how successful Apple has been it's not unreasonable to wonder … does it make sense for Cook to add new members to the board of directors? That's what the Wall Street Journal reported earlier today. The crux was that the current board is from the Steve Jobs era, with most of the directors over 63 years of age, half of them having been on the board for more than a decade, if not longer. So, given all that, I think it does.

Tim Cook has shaken up Apple management, he's hired high-ranking executives from the fashion industry, he brought back charitable matching, he initiated a massive share buyback and dividend program, and the list goes on. So why not shake up the board as well?

Apple's eight-member board currently consists of Tim Cook and seven other members who come from outside of Apple. It's often a good thing to have what we call "outside directors" because they are, in theory, less likely to just go along with whatever the CEO thinks is right. But that's obviously not always the case, and I doubt any of these board members would have strongly opposed anything Jobs wanted to do.

Steve Jobs likely didn't need the same kind of board that Cook needs. Jobs had special talents that most of us do not have. Tim Cook doesn't have Jobs' product vision and comfort in making super fast decisions about the quality of an idea or product. I think this is why Cook has promoted several of the Apple executives into expanded roles and explains why he's brought on new executive talent.

That's fine. Jobs wasn't a logistics and operations expert, which is why he brought in Tim Cook. So, it also stands to reason that Cook would want to build a board of directors that was better equipped to add value to the discussion of where Apple is going.

Given the ages, given the tenure, I think it makes sense to plan for the obvious. Some of these board members are going to change how they spend their time as they age, and spending more time on work is unlikely. Apple may as well recruit new, younger board members now.

Cook obviously has a plan for Apple, and the human resource moves he's made so far are a big clue. It shouldn't be surprising if a refresh of the board is part of the plans.

Chris Umiastowski

Chris was a sell side financial analyst covering the tech sector for over 10 years. He left the industry to enjoy a change in lifestyle as an entrepreneur, consultant, and technology writer.

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There are 7 comments. Add yours.

Gsarfin says:

I'd be up for being a board member! Lol

Sent from the iMore App

Trubador says:

Just kicking Al Gore off the board would make me happy. ;-)

mister_grey says:

Dropping that unreasoning hatred will make you happier. I guarantee it.

krislord says:

Wilst they have a majority of non executive directors, they have all been on the board for a very long time which compromises their independence. In most countries (except the US it seems) they would not be considered independent NED's.

Also, the board is rather small, with only a few members on each committee.

Jaguarr40 says:

Why? First of all you just don't add Board Members to a major company like Apple. The is a lot to think about and a process and besides, It seems to me with what the stock is worth and their selling power they are doing just fine with who is on the board now.

mister_grey says:

I think they do, but some of the reasons you state are backwards to me. The board should absolutely have NO say at ALL in "product vision." Any company that has a board of directors that's engaged in that would be a company to avoid like the plague IMO.

Boards are typically only of use as cultural inputs and as business governors when the business is doing poorly. Since the later category doesn't apply to Apple, what they really need is a better angle on culture.

At the moment, Apple executive as well as the board are hugely overpopulated by very old, very white gentlemen. What Apple needs is women and an influx of people not already deeply ingrained and committed to, the "old white dude" mentality. They also need to get some people in there that are not committed to the "USA is the best in the world" mentality.

I'd like to see them step away from all the corporate nonsense too. In many ways, even women executives are only at that level because they've internalised all of the same BS as the old men. How about picking a housewife? Or a philosopher? Get a few folks who aren't actually Americans, who can see how offensive some of their "America first" initiatives are. Get some real diversity in there so that when they all sit around the table they aren't all in lock-step.

Trubador says:

To quote yourself, above:

"Dropping that unreasoning hatred will make you happier. I guarantee it."

;-)