Apple’s Tim Cook and his bête noire, Carl Icahn, have one thing in common: They work ridiculous hours

December 4, 2013
December 4, 2013

Carl Icahn has upped the ante in his crusade to get Apple to return more of its $150 billion cash pile to shareholders. Time Magazine has the exclusive interview, where the activist investor confirms he filed a proposal to get his buyback plan voted on at the company’s annual shareholder meeting next year. (The meeting date is still to be confirmed, but the 2013 edition took place in February).

It’s a “precatory” proposal—in other words, it’s not binding even if a majority of shareholders vote for it (though if they did it would be a bit of an embarrassment for the company). In the interview, Icahn goes out of his way to say that he’s not “against” the management of the iconic device maker; he just thinks it’s got more cash than it needs, and that this cash would be put to better use in the hands of investors than sitting in the bank.

Perhaps a more interesting part of the interview is the color surrounding Icahn’s recent conversations with Apple CEO Tim Cook. The two men had dinner in October, the Wall Street Journal reported, and Icahn revealed to Time that they spoke again in late November:

Icahn says his most recent conversation with Cook was a 20-minute phone call Nov. 21—which Cook’s assistant initially tried to schedule at 5 a.m. Pacific Time. “That’s usually when I go to bed! This guy’s tougher to get than the President,” laughs Icahn.

That would be 8am in New York, which is either a very early, or very late time to be hitting the sack for a 77-year-old.  We double-checked the quote with the Time journalist, Rana Foroohar, and she confirmed that it is what Icahn said, albeit somewhat tongue-in-cheek. So, Tim Cook really does schedule calls at 5am his time, and Icahn stays up until all hours—presumably crafting his latest incendiary shareholder missives. They wouldn’t be the first high-profile executives to get by on limited sleep.

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