Tim Cook On Apple Being ‘Pulled Into The Enterprise’

The CEOs of Apple and Salesforce talk enterprise mobility, environmental sustainability, and remember Steve Jobs unveiling products on the same stage.


Apple was "pulled into the enterprise," CEO Tim Cook said Tuesday in a fireside chat with Salesforce founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff.

After the first iPhones shipped, people began using them for business, forcing the consumer computing giant to adapt quickly, Cook said while visiting Salesforce's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.

Customers "began to say we want you to do this and that," Cook told Benioff, which ultimately meant making the "best mobile operating system for enterprise."

Sponsored post

"We really took that challenge to heart," he said.

[Related: Salesforce Dreamforce Keynote: AI, Integration, Alicia Keys And Protestors]

Apple's revolutionary smartphone made it evident that personal and business technology would blend in a way nobody had seen before. While some people carry two phones, and "we love you for that," Cook said, most do their personal and professional tasks on the same device.

Apple is now in every Fortune 500 company, and eight out of ten companies are writing custom iOS apps, Cook told Benioff.

While that progress still lags the consumer world, Cook said he's extremely proud of his company's trajectory on that front.

Benioff introduced Cook to the Dreamforce audience as "someone who has redefined what it means to be a chief executive officer"—and someone he's learned a lot from.

Hosting Cook at Dreamforce "is our dream," Benioff said.

To that, Cook joked that he's not Alicia Keys, the singer who surprised the Dreamforce audience a couple hours earlier by closing out Benioff's keynote with a couple songs.

But Apple has had a place in his heart since 1984, Benioff said, ever since he did an internship at the company.

Now his own company, Salesforce, has an increasingly overlapping customer base as the two tech giants coordinate efforts to make it easier to do business on mobile devices.

Benioff intimately understands the benefits of that collaboration.

"I run my business on my phone. I have for years. I don’t even own a computer anymore and I don’t need one," he told Cook. " You guys have done such a good job."

Salesforce's CEO marveled at Apple's ability to innovate for so many decades.

Cook said the admiration is mutual.

"I love the way you're constantly taking all the new things and quickly incorporating those, whether its Siri shortcuts, or handoffs," he told Benioff.

And they both got a little choked up when considering the history of the Yerba Buena theater on the grounds of San Francisco's Moscone Center, where on the same stage Apple founder and legendary CEO Steve Jobs unveiled many products.

Cook remembered Jobs rehearsing there for one event and "going way off script in a way that only he could do, making everyone laugh along the way."

"I can feel him and his presence when I come here," Cook said.

Jobs would typically leave work before him, but always stop by his office to exchange notes for the day. It was simple things like that that made him such a great leader.

"We all miss Steve so much," Benioff weighed in, telling Cook, "since he passed, you've been so true to him and his values."

Among those values is privacy, which Apple views as "a fundamental human right" and embeds into its products. Another is stewardship of the Earth, Cook said.

Apple, a giant industrial producer, has gone well beyond what it's legally required to do, challenging itself to run entirely on renewable energy while encouraging suppliers to be cleaner as well.

Those values also extend to human rights, and Apple is a strong advocate for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients, or Dreamers, to receive citizenship and be allowed to stay in the United States, where they grew up after entering undocumented.

Cook said Apple employs about 450 Dreamers, and he sees "first hand their love of their country and commitment to it."

Privacy, like environmental sustainability, are not "bolt-on things," Cook said, but instead "embedded in who we are."