Palo Alto

Tim Cook's modest home

January 11, 2012: 7:43 AM ET

Apple's top exec certainly doesn't live like America's "highest paid CEO"

Top: Tim Cook's Palo Alto house. Bottom: One of Larry Ellison's

A Google search Tuesday morning for "Tim Cook" and "highest paid CEO" turned up 457 headlines, including a handwringer from the Seattle Times that asks "Did Apple change its core values?"

Behind all these headlines -- and especially the last -- are two mistaken assumptions:

  • That the 1 million restricted Apple (AAPL) shares granted to Cook last August so that he wouldn't even think about leaving the company went directly into his bank account. (See Apple CEO Tim Cook didn't really make $378 million in 2011.)
  • That because Steve Jobs' salary was $1 per year, and Cook's is now $1.4 million, Jobs didn't care about money in a way that somehow Cook does.

In this regard, a paragraph from my colleague Adam Lashinsky's forthcoming book Inside Apple (release date: Jan. 25) is instructive:

In an organization that frowned on talking about money, Cook was extraordinarily frugal. Well after he had sold more than $100 million in Apple stock, he rented a modest home in Palo Alto, a little over a mile from where Jobs lived. (In 2010, Cook finally bought a house of his own, not far from his previous rental, but hardly an extravagant one. Public records indicate he purchased the house for $1.9 million, which in Palo Alto qualifies as a modest abode.) Asked why he lived so humbly, he once said: "I like to be reminded of where I came from, and putting myself in modest surroundings helps me do that. Money is not a motivator for me."

Above: A Google Maps image of Cook's Palo Alto home and an aerial photograph of one of many houses owned by Larry Ellison, the billionaire CEO of Oracle (ORCL) who is No. 3 on Equilar's list of America's highest paid CEOs and, from all appearances, a man who cares a good deal about money.

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