Apple COO Tim Cook, who has been running the company during CEO Steve Jobs' indefinite medical leave, was just ranked No. 1 on Out magazine's list of America's most influential gays and lesbians. It's a warm public welcome for a very private guy.
In his debut entry on the so-called Power 50 list, now in its fifth year, Out writes of Cook, "Leader-in-waiting? Most definitely." In a press release, the magazine's editor-in-chief, Aaron Hicklin, explained that "it's the first year that the list has been topped by someone from the tech world, in the shape of Apple's COO, Tim Cook, who has helped turn his company into one of the world's most influential." He added:
"Here's a suggestion for how Apple could more constructively challenge the appeal of groups like Exodus: They should send their COO out to schools and universities as an example of a successful gay man running the world's biggest tech company. Although Tim Cook has chosen to be discreet about his sexuality, just know that Apple's heir apparent is gay sends a compelling message of the opportunity to thrive in the workplace. That's a big deal."
Though he's acknowledged to be gay within certain Apple and Silicon Valley circles, Cook has remained publicly mum about his sexuality; that held true even after we pointed out he was "the most powerful gay man in Silicon Valley" this past January. Cook will probably continue to remain silent about that part of his life for now, and keep focused on running Apple, where he's no doubt reinforcing, on a daily basis, his reputation for intense focus, long hours and a quietly fierce attention to the details of his subordinates' work.
We emailed Cook about his inclusion atop the Out list; we'll update this post in the event that we hear back.