Eddy Cue

Eddy Cue

Eddy Cue is Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. That means he's the man behind iTunes, Apple Music, Maps, and iCloud. He's been with Apple since 1989 and continues to work hard at improving the all-important services category.

● Started in Apple's customer support in 1989
● Steve Jobs tapped him to negotiate record label deals for iTunes
● Negotiated the deal with AT&T for the first iPhone
● Oversees Apple Music and Apple TV deal negotiations
● Steve Jobs chose him to fix MobileMe
● Took over Apple Maps and Siri in 2012
● Lost Siri to Craig Federighi in 2017

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You may think you know Eddy Cue already because you do occasionally see him at Apple keynotes presenting on topics like Apple Music. He's nowhere near as much a regular as Phil SchillerCraig Federighi, or Jeff Williams, but Eddy Cue arguably has more to do with Apple today than any of the executive team.

That's because, as senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Cue is responsible for a vast part of what Apple does. Apple services revenue continues to be one of the hottest topics in investor discussions and Cue is behind a lot of that success.

Eddy Cue's position at Apple

Cue is in charge of the whole of iCloud for a start. Then there's Apple Pay, Apple Maps, the iTunes Store, Apple Music, and apps such as iMovie and GarageBand. He's in charge of the company's search ads business, and while Apple's bio of him doesn't explicitly say he runs Apple TV+, Cue is at least heavily involved.

Eddy Cue showing off Apple Music during WWDC 2015 Eddy Cue showing off Apple Music during WWDC 2015

Most of these roles concentrate on areas of Apple that most of us either don't see –– such as the search ads –– or take for granted, such as iCloud syncing or Apple Music's expansive library. So much of his work on Apple Music, Apple TV+ and reportedly also Apple News+ involves intensive negotiations with outside companies before Apple can have anything to show us.

So Cue is in this odd position of being extraordinarily important within Apple and comparatively unknown to the public.

There was the one time that his name did get a lot of attention, though, and that was around September 2018. It was reported that Eddy Cue was so overextended that during meetings, he would "fall silent, shut his eyes and tilt his head back." Allegedly, on a couple of these occasions, he was even heard to snore.

It's not as if Cue does all the engineering work on, say, iCloud, but with this range of responsibilities, even the lightest management work would stretch anyone.

Eddy Cue leads the team behind Apple's worldwide video programming Eddy Cue leads the team behind Apple's worldwide video programming

However, the same report that alleged his being overextended, also criticized him for how he runs the teams he is in charge of. Naturally, some teams are larger than others, and there are overlaps between areas of work, there are inevitably tensions between creative people.

Allegedly, because of his workload across so many projects, Cue has sometimes "failed to intercede in conflicts [at] important moments."

We'll never know exactly how Apple organizes its people's workload, nor even whether it did anything to address Cue's being so stretched. However, in recent months there have been substantial changes in how the company's executives work and what they are responsible for.

While it doesn't indicate anything about Cue's overall workload, one reported change is that he has been focusing most of his software engineering teams on Apple TV+.

This is a service where Eddy Cue has been involved from the start, just as he was with the successful launch of Apple Music.

Eddy Cue's public appearances

Despite being one of Apple's top executives, Eddy Cue is also one of the most enigmatic. His appearances during keynotes have dwindled over the years and he doesn't show up in public interviews either. Even his Twitter account is limited to short comments on Apple projects and as of February 2021 hasn't been active in over 500 days.

Since Cue is behind many of Apple's services initiatives he showed up to premiere each new product like Apple Music and Apple TV+. Otherwise, he's stayed backstage working on the services without the same star power as someone like Tim Cook or Craig Federighi.

South by Southwest 2018

One of his most surprising appearances was at South by Southwest where he was interviewed by CNN. This occurred in 2018 just after Apple's acquisition of magazine subscription service Texture, and well before Apple's entry into the entertainment market.

Eddy Cue appearing at South by Southwest in 2018 Eddy Cue appearing at South by Southwest in 2018

When asked about free speech issues surrounding news aggregators like Facebook and Twitter, Cue responded positively.

"We want the best articles," Cue said when describing Apple's plans for Texture. "We want them to look amazing and we want them to be from trusted sources."

The interview turned to free speech, about which Cue said "we think when you have a large platform, there's a large responsibility." He said that Apple had to come up with specific guidelines surrounding issues with speech and being on the platform.

"At times we got some heat for it, people weren't happy that we had guidelines." He continued, "We do think free speech is important, but we don't think white supremacist speech or hate speech is free speech that ought to be out there."

The interview moved to acquisitions and media and Apple's future in providing entertainment services. Eddy Cue went into more detail than expected, describing Apple's goals for a streaming service over a year before its launch.

"We're all in," Cue said. "There's a difference though — we're not after quantity, we're after quality. When you think of content, first of all, and you can see that here at South by Southwest, great storytelling is important."

Duke University speech 2017

Duke University invited Eddy Cue to speak about his life in the technology field. This was in part due to the launch and expansion of the Duke Technology Scholars program.

Cue starts his speech by discussing being the first-generation child of immigrants, his marriage to Paula, and his children. He then started talking about choosing Duke and the technology program.

He started out wanting to be an architect but changed his path after using a computer. He decided that he loved computers and that he wanted a career doing what he loved.

"I haven't worked at Apple for 29 years," he started. "If you do the math, 29 years, and you kinda do the number of days I've worked, I've probably worked about a year. The other 28 years wasn't work, it was just what I love to do."

Cue then discussed his early years at Apple. In the early days, Apple was growing quickly and had more money than it knew what to do with.

Eddy Cue speaking at Duke University Eddy Cue speaking at Duke University

When he arrived at the company he was told to order everything he needed for an office. This was due to having a surplus of funds before the end of a quarter, and Cue said this was a sign of poor management.

Apple grew quickly, and within two years of arriving at Apple the products "weren't as good." He said this was due to Apple "hiring a bozo," referring to Gil Amelio. That because a bozo was in charge the people he was hiring below him was even worse.

"If somebody were to ask me what's the most important thing I do," he posited. "It's hiring."

Cue interviewed for two jobs, one at Apple and one at Microsoft. At first, he said it looked like he made the wrong choice, and even considered leaving Apple. Then Steve Jobs showed up, which Cue referred to him as "an Albert Einstein."

As Jobs was coming back on, Cue had shifted some of the internal systems Apple used to the early internet. When Jobs asked someone to create an online store for Apple, Eddy Cue was the first choice.

Through pitching the online store and its viability, Jobs apparently picked up on Cue's negotiation skills. This lead to Jobs asking him to start negotiating the iTunes Store.

Eddy Cue continues to discuss his time at Apple as he climbed through the ranks. Now, Apple is the largest company in the world and he feels it a great accomplishment.

"If you had asked me twenty years ago would I walk on the moon or would Apple be the largest company in the world," he said, "I would pick walk on the moon one-hundred times." He emphasized the fact that this wasn't an overnight change.

His speech moved to diversity and its importance. His entire worldview changed dramatically when he had his daughter, and he feels that everyone should have the same opportunity.

Being a global company, Apple is in the position of having to understand the whole world, not just its neighborhood.

"If you want to be a great company around the whole world, you better be damn diverse," he said. "Because if all you're seeing is the few things in front of you, you're going to have a problem."

Cue said diversity is not only great for the company, it is great for humanity. That good business and a better understanding of the world are a direct result of diverse representation.

Eddy Cue's Life and History at Apple

Eddy Cue was born in 1964 to a Cuban mother and a Spanish father in Florida. He is married to his wife Paula and has two sons and a daughter.

Cue has a Bachelor's degree in computer science and economics from Duke. His sons also graduated from Duke and he continues to be a big Duke basketball fan today. Cue is also a fan of the Golden State Warriors and can often be seen courtside.

Eddy Cue, seen at a Golden State Warriors game. Image credit: The Chronicle Eddy Cue, seen at a Golden State Warriors game. Image credit: The Chronicle

He was seemingly first spotted by or at least brought to the attention of, Steve Jobs. Cue had joined Apple in 1989, working in customer support. He became a manager of that team and also of software engineering before Jobs returned in 1997. 

As stated before, Jobs tapped him to work on Apple's online store, which debuted as a precursor to the form we now know it back in 1998. That was followed by the iTunes Store in 2003 and the first version of the App Store in 2008.

Then Jobs turned to him when MobileMe proved to be a disastrous failure. It's because of Cue that we got iCloud and that, through working so very well, it has become the invisible backbone of so much of Apple.

Plus Steve Jobs got Eddy Cue to negotiate the first iPhone deal with AT&T, helping to avoid disastrous requirements like pre-loaded carrier apps, physical carrier branding on the iPhone, and a carrier bootup animation, all stalwarts of most Android phones to this day.

Despite all of this, Jobs never really promoted Cue to the top table at Apple, but during his first year as CEO, Tim Cook did. Cook gave Cue a similar brief to fix Apple Maps and handed him responsibility for Siri.

While Maps has unquestionably improved, Siri has generally fallen behind its rivals in abilities and, perhaps as importantly, its perceived abilities. In 2017, Apple moved Siri over to Craig Federighi.

That may be a recognition of Siri's failings, but it could also be because, around then, Cue would have been increasingly involved in the negotiations over Apple News+ and Apple TV+.

Today, Eddy Cue appears to be chiefly focused on the TV service. That's one which is likely to always need negotiations, as it's dealing with individual talent rather than, say, a handful of record labels. He hasn't made any major keynote presentations in recent years.

 

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