Apple's (AAPL) decision to add Susan L. Wagner to its board of directors goes beyond adding another experienced voice in helping the company. It also hints at where the company is going in the future, under CEO Timothy D. Cook.
Wagner, who co-founded investment management firm BlackRock in 1988, is seen not only as a pioneer in the financial industry, but among women as well, having been named one of Fortune Magazine's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and honored by the National Council for Research on Women. However, it's her experience in mergers & acquisitions that Cook cited, following the company's recent announcement it was buying Beats Electronics for $3 billion in cash and stock.
“Sue is a pioneer in the financial industry and we are excited to welcome her to Apple’s board of directors,” Cook said in the press release. “We believe her strong experience, especially in M&A and building a global business across both developed and emerging markets, will be extremely valuable as Apple continues to grow around the world.”
Wagner replaces former Intuit CEO and Chairman Bill Campbell, who next to Jobs and Apple co-founder Mike Markkula, is the longest-serving board member in the company’s history.
Apple, which reports fiscal third-quarter earnings after the close on July 22, has transformed into a different company under Cook than it was under Jobs. Under Cook, the company is more mature, and has seen a slowdown from the hyper-growth days under Jobs when the iPod, iPhone and iPad were brand new products.
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Now, the company is working on expanding the life of the iPhone, iPad and Mac, making them more useful than before, with products such Continuity, HomeKit and SmartKit. The company's recent announcement with IBM to bring more iPhones and iPads to enterprise with the help of IBM's cloud services and business-centric apps is a prime example of that.
With Wagner on board, Apple can be expected to more acquisitive, perhaps to the tune of larger deals like the Beats announcement, per Cook's comments. On Apple's fiscal-second quarter earnings call, Cook noted that Apple has been acquisitive and will continue to be acquisitive, if the deal makes sense. He noted that as of April, the company had acquired 24 other companies in the past 18 months.
Apple has largely eschewed acquiring larger companies, with Beats being the largest acquisition. That's followed by the NeXT acquisition that brought Jobs back to Apple in the mid 1990's. However, the company may wind up changing that tune, given Wagner's experience, assuming there is a strategic fit and it adds value to shareholders.
Apple continues to have one mission: make the worlds' best products. If acquisitions, led by prowess from Wagner can help, it appears the company will explore that route more so than it has in the past.