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Photo Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Tim Cook never wanted to be Apple's CEO: rather, he was thrust into the role by the untimely death of Steve Jobs.

The big picture: It took a while to get here, but Cook is no longer operating in Jobs's long shadow. In fact, he's arguably the most powerful and important CEO on the planet.

  • Cook was an introverted operations guy, not a charismatic outward-facing leader like Jobs.
  • Cook became CEO in August 2011. Now, seven years later, he is becoming visibly comfortable in the position of leading the world's most valuable company.
  • He's pulling no punches when it comes to privacy rights. "Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency," he said this week in Europe.
  • He's out and proud. Being gay is "God's greatest gift to me," he told CNN.
  • He's willing to go fight the press, demanding a retraction from Bloomberg for its story about Chinese spy chips.

Go deeper

The modern way to hire a big-city police chief

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

When it comes to picking a city's top cop, closed-door selection processes have been replaced by highly public exercises where everyone gets to vet the candidates — who must have better community-relations skills than ever.

Why it matters: In the post-George-Floyd era, with policing under utmost scrutiny, the choosing of a police chief has become something akin to an election, with the need to build consensus around a candidate. And the candidate pool has gotten smaller.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Speculative crypto art market takes off

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Move over, GameStop. The newest speculative game in town is NFTs — digital files that can be owned and traded on a plethora of new online platforms.

Why it matters: Most NFTs include some kind of still or moving image, which makes them similar to many physical art objects. Some of them, including a gif of Nyan Cat flying through the sky with a pop-tart body and rainbow trail, can be worth more than your house.

New coronavirus cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections continued their sharp decline over the past week, and are now back down to pre-Thanksgiving levels.

The big picture: Given the U.S.’ experience over the past year, it can be hard to trust anything that looks like good news, without fearing that another shoe is about to drop. But the U.S. really is doing something right lately. Cases are way down, vaccinations are way up, and that’s going to save a lot of lives.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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