David Sobotta, a former director of Apple's federal sales group, says CEO Tim Cook is afraid of being wrong, lacks leadership skills, and is a "lightweight" when it comes to understanding technology.
Sobotta, who published a Kindle book about his 20-year experience at Apple called "The Pomme Company," (pomme means Apple in French) gave an interview to Dan Lyons, who is now editor of Readwrite.com.
We haven't heard much about Cook's management style so this is among the first reports. Lyons asked Sobotta what he thought of the recent firing ofand retail chief John Brownell, a man Cook had hired. Below are just a couple of snippets of what Sobotta had to say:
Tim will react to the numbers or his fear of being wrong quickly. Fear of being wrong is a managerial trait that runs strong and deep in Apple because of the way Steve ran the company. Even the appearance of being wrong when in the end you might be right is dreaded at Apple.
Technology-wise, I think Tim Cook is a lightweight. I never felt passion for technology from Tim like I did from Steve and some of the great engineers.
An Apple spokesman was not immediately available for comment. We'll update when we hear back. One thing Sobotta acknowledges early in his book that he was asked to leave Apple in 2004.
I don't know that Sobotta's criticisms provide much insight on how successful Cook will be. Lots of successful tech CEO's aren't known for their charm or warmth. If you like your executives to be nice guys, Apple isn't without those. CNET, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services and the man who oversees iTunes is well liked within the company and by Apple's partners.
As for being a "lightweight" on technology, that was the knock on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. He didn't code and he wasn't an engineer and he fared pretty well as a CEO, no?
At his blog, Applepeels, Sobotta is very critical of Apple in a number of areas. The titles to some of his most recent posts are "Do Apple Employees Need A Witness Protection Program?" "Has Apple lost its soul?" and "Will Apple Ever Figure Out the Cloud?"
Update: 1:51 p.m. PT: To include more on Sobotta's background.