Robertson Says Google Built Better Culture Than Apple

Julian Robertson, whose Tiger Management LLC was once one of the world’s largest hedge-fund firms, said Google Inc. has established a better leadership culture than Apple Inc. to ensure long-term success.

Steve Jobs, the deceased co-founder of Apple, “was a maverick person and really couldn’t establish a great, long-term entity,” Robertson said today in an interview on “Bloomberg Surveillance” with Tom Keene, Sara Eisen and Scarlet Fu. “I think that the Google people have a better way of getting things done.”

Apple, once the biggest smartphone maker, has lost about 40 percent of its market value from the 2012 peak amid concern that the pace of innovation is slowing at the maker of iPhones and iPads since the death of its co-founder. Google’s Android software, which it provides for free to handset makers, now commands more than 70 percent of the smartphone market while the iPhone has less than 20 percent.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook reorganized Apple last year to encourage collaboration among units so that Macs, iPhones and iPads work better together.

Robertson said while he has a “tremendous amount of respect” for Jobs’s intellect, “he was just a very mercurial guy.”

Google’s Challenge

Apple is undergoing slowing revenue growth and narrowing margins amid accelerating mobile competition led by Samsung Electronics Co. and other users of Google’s Android operating system. Apple is working to release new products that can build on the successes of the iPod music player, the iPhone handset and the iPad tablet, which revolutionized their respective industries.

Google, under CEO Larry Page, has demonstrated an ability to expand swiftly into new businesses, mainly mobile advertising. Android is free to manufacturing partners, and Google makes money from ads shown to users of the devices.

Google has gained 25 percent since Sept. 19, when Apple’s market value peaked. It is up 80 percent since Oct. 5, 2011, the day Jobs died, compared with a 12 percent return by Apple.

Robertson started New York-based Tiger Management in 1980, and by mid-1998 assets had soared to about $22 billion on the back of annual returns averaging 32 percent. Losses and investor withdrawals over the following 18 months reduced Tiger’s assets to about $6 billion and in 2000, Robertson announced he would close the firm to outside investors. Since then he has transformed it into a business financing startup hedge-fund managers and runs a charitable foundation.

Government Probe

Robertson said the U.S. government’s probe of insider trading on Wall Street won’t have a big impact on the industry because hedge funds generally are very careful to adhere to the rules.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week accused Steven A. Cohen, the billionaire founder of SAC Capital Advisors LP, of failure to supervise two employees facing criminal charges of insider trading. If the administrative proceeding against Cohen is successful, the SEC could force him out of business without proving that Cohen himself engaged in insider trading.

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