Seeking Alpha

Rocco Pendola's  Instablog

Rocco Pendola
Send Message
Rocco Pendola is an associate editor at Seeking Alpha focusing on technology and the sectors it overlaps with. In addition to technology, I am interested in dividend growth and income investing. I make references to music I'm obsessed with (e.g., Old 97s, Elliott Smith, Bruce Springsteen) in... More
My company:
Rocco Pendola
My blog:
My book:
Basic Options Trading Strategies for Beginners
  • The Sexuality of Apple's Tim Cook: Why It Matters  2 comments
    Aug 29, 2011 1:41 PM | about stocks: AAPL
    Seeking Alpha contributor and Reuters' blogger Felix Salmon wrote what, at least for me, might go down as the best sentences even penned by a financial writer (or at least the most meaningful, thoughtful and impactful):
    Keeping his sexuality a secret is no longer an option. And so the press shouldn’t treat it as though it’s something to be avoided at all costs. There’s no ethical dilemma when it comes to reporting on Cook’s sexuality: rather, the ethical dilemma comes in not reporting it, thereby perpetuating the idea that there’s some kind of stigma associated with being gay. Yes, the stigma does still exist in much of society. But it’s not the job of the press to perpetuate it. Quite the opposite.
    Could not have said it better myself. 

    I did not know that new Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook is gay. Salmon's article came as a surprise, but hardly a shock. Of course, Cook's personal life is his business, but, as Salmon states, the real tragedy lays in the fact that reporting on it (or not) 
    is even an issue.

    If Cook happens to be a rabid San Jose Sharks fan with season tickets and hockey memorabilia lining his office, the San Francisco Bay Area media would definitely report it. Hockey fans across the region, and the world for that matter, would connect, even if only for a second, with Cook over his NHL infatuation. But, at day's end, the material impact on a life would be small. 

    Consider the story of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke. Burke is one of those tough as nails hockey guys. He's an Irish-Catholic man who not only preaches, but exudes old-time hockey.
    Several years back, Burke's son Brendan came out of the closet. Telling his Dad about his sexuality was, reportedly, one of the most difficult things he ever had to do:
    You are driving home from a family event in Marlboro, Mass., when you decide you want to say it during the car ride. Finally, after a 45-minute ride, you pass the city limits sign of Boston and you know you have to tell Katie. It is incredibly difficult, but your sister is very supportive. Of course she is, you tell yourself, she's Katie. That same night, you tell Molly and your mom. Everyone is great. Mom tells you she isn't surprised and had expected it from the time you were a little kid. Moms.
    You tell your brother, Patrick, a day or two later. Patrick turns off the car blaring "The Hold Steady" CD, and you tell him as you are walking out to the car to bring in bags. Patrick, like Dad, never one to be fazed, says something along the lines of, "I love you. This doesn't change anything. Now pick up that suitcase and bring it inside."
    But, now, telling your secret to Dad is another story. Molly's reassuring hand guides you to the couch for the moment of truth. It's time to tell Dad, a most public example of hockey machismo, that you are gay.
    Finally, you say it. Awkwardly. You basically stumble along trying not to make it a big deal before just blurting out, "And I love you guys and wanted to tell you that I'm gay."
    There is a brief silence.
    Dad is surprised when you tell him that you are gay. He never suspected at all.
    Your stepmom speaks first: "OK, Brendan, that's OK." And gives you a reassuring smile. Then your dad says, "Of course, we still love you. This won't change a thing."
    Brian Burke went on to appear on national televison side-by-side with his gay son. About a year later, Brendan Burke died in a car crash

    Brendan Burke died in an accident. He did not commit suicide like many young gay men and women do every single year. In fact, I would argue that, particularly for Canadian teens, seeing Brian and Brendan Burke side-by-side on Canada's version of ESPN helped alleviate a lot of emotional angst. 

    It floors me to consider what investors believe is important. With a viable executive team, namely a CEO in Tim Cook, waiting in the wings, many Apple shareholders still chide the company for not delving into Steve Jobs' personal life and declaring the intimate details about his illness. The debate rages on

    If you're an Apple shareholder, you own stock in a company that can now truly help the change the world. Sure, Apple has already changed the way people do just about everything, from share information to communicate. But, in the grand scheme of things, that's small potatoes. 

    Hockey culture pervades Canada. Thanks to its power, Brian and Brendan Burke continue to make a difference in the lives of people, gay and straight, across an entire nation. Nothing pervades American culture quite like Apple. As such, with Tim Cook's blessing, it appears that Apple could redefine the term "social responsibility" within corporations around the world. 

    Other (often, much smaller) institutions do it everyday by taking a stand and enacting gay-friendly policies. Just imagine the impact Apple could have by not making a spectacle, but simply making it known that its CEO is gay. 

    Why would Apple not do such a thing? I can only speculate, but it has got to do with the feared backlash. Just as making no bones about having an openly gay CEO leading Apple would produce positive effects, the disclosure, even if incredibly unofficial (but still company-supported) runs the risk of alienating some investors. Sad to say, but it's true. Factions certainly exist in our society who did not vote for Barrack Obama because he's Black and surely would have never vote for a gay candidate. 

    As an investor, I would actually be more likely to buy Apple shares if it went the way of tough guy Brian Burke and took a stand worth taking. That says a lot about not only a man or a company, but the mindset that drives company culture and progessivism.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
    Stocks: AAPL
Back To Rocco Pendola's Instablog HomePage »

Instablogs are blogs which are instantly set up and networked within the Seeking Alpha community. Instablog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors, in contrast to contributors' articles.

Comments (2)
Track new comments
  • Ian Bezek
    , contributor
    Comments (2931) | Send Message
    Thanks for writing this, and sharing Brian Burke's story.
    30 Aug 2011, 09:41 AM Reply Like
  • Rocco Pendola
    , contributor
    Comments (6134) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » No problem. It doesn't get much more powerful than that GQ article I link to towards the end.


    Thanks, Ian.
    30 Aug 2011, 09:52 AM Reply Like
Full index of posts »
Latest Followers


More »

Latest Comments

Instablogs are Seeking Alpha's free blogging platform customized for finance, with instant set up and exposure to millions of readers interested in the financial markets. Publish your own instablog in minutes.