I have owned shares in various companies for the last 25 years but have never been to one of the annual shareholder’s meeting for companies I own shares in. To resolve my curiosity, I decided to finally attend Apple’s annual shareholders’ meeting last week. I read lots of articles from others and so will try to cover different aspect of the meeting in this blog.
If you are like me and get to places just in time, you will likely be in the overflow room for a popular meeting like that of Apple where you will be watching all of the action on the screen from next door. Interestingly, Apple CEO Tim Cook indicated to everyone that in the new headquarter, the meeting for 2017 will do away with the overflow room as the main room will be large enough. The overflow room was just one of the cafeterias and didn’t seem that grand as that of Google or Facebook or may be they didn’t think shareholders deserve anything better especially the ones that came just on time.
Entering Apple’s meeting with wearable Tech
In the name of security or privacy or secrecy, Apple decided to take away everyone’s cell phone or tablet or any computer somehow fearing we may use their technology to tell everyone what they said in a meeting which is open to anyone with a single share of Apple. The last two times I had to surrender my cell phone was when I visited Samsung headquarters and then in Dubai when I visited a telephone service provider. So wonder what will happen when Apple and most of their competitors introduce new wearable tech. I just hope Apple will lead in bypassing these archaic rules and take leadership in allowing these devices in the future.
Would Steve Jobs be ever caught not using his own technology?
First part of the meeting is a boring formal session wherein they just read all of the proposed resolutions and allow people to express their opinion even though online voting had already decided on the fate of every resolution – a mere formality. Then came the second and most interesting part of the meeting wherein Tim Cook took the stage in a very informal way to answer questions. He started with a prepared remark and guess what device he used for his notes – iPhone, iPad or iMac? The answer is none – he used the old fashioned printed page. Yes, he did take questions from the overflow room on the iPad. Wondering what would Steve Jobs have done in this case?
Can software be done the same way as Apple has done hardware?
One and perhaps the only smart business related question was asked by one of the shareholders regarding Google’s perceived lead in new wearable tech. Tim Cook dismissed it saying we don’t announce pre release products and that they have many things in the hopper. It is a well known fact that software is really becoming the linchpin and just having a faster, cheaper, lighter device is not enough. However, looking at Apple’s issues with maps, Siri falling behind Google as a personal assistant and very imperfect finger ID effort, would they be better off being more open and giving their users a chance to test these products before releasing it in the wild.
Is Apple stock going to languish for 2 more years?
I have noticed that every time a public company starts to build its own campus its stock suffers during that time. I saw that happen to 3Com, Sun and then to Oracle and wondered why? May be because the CEO focuses more attention to leaving his/her mark on the building than on the company! Apple’s new headquarters is at least 2 years away from completion and Tim seemed really proud of it. I wonder if Apple will join the ranks of other companies and have its stock languish for few more years while they build a new home.
If Tim were the CEO of a startup?
Tim has an interesting style – kind of like Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India – somewhat boring but to the point and may be that is what a large company like Apple needs. He did have some jokes but I kept wondering if he were the CEO of a startup how investors would perceive him. I have seen many a CEOs and founders being rejected by investors saying they were not passionate enough. May be the same investors would have rejected to fund his startup but now he is on the other side buying 20+ companies a year.
Here are some more articles that reported on various other aspects of the meeting that may be of interest to readers
1) Climate Change and Tim Cook - http://arstechnica.com/apple/2014/03/at-apple-shareholders-meeting-tim-cook-tells-off-climate-change-deniers/
2) Apple TV and others - http://www.macworld.com/article/2103500/cook-dishes-on-apple-tv-innovation-cash-on-hand-at-annual-shareholder-meeting.html
3) Tim Cook on ROI - http://www.businessinsider.com/tim-cook-versus-a-conservative-think-tank-2014-2