Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo this week sat down with the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, for a two-hour meeting during a visit to the world famous Stanford University in California, where he was giving a lecture to students.
The heads of two of the world’s most truly global brands came together for a lengthy discussion to chew the fat on their respective company’s ideas and visions, as well as sharing insight on strategy and management styles.
Although the industries of racing and car production and consumer electronics and computers might seem far apart in many aspects, Montezemolo – who also met the heads of Google at the conference which took place in the heart of the biggest market for Ferrari’s road cars – found Ferrari and Apple shared several core values including “attention to the brand, exclusivity, attention to the people, attention to the environment”.
The Italian shared details of his discussion with Cook during the course of his talk to the audience of 600 students and afterwards said: ”I was impressed by his availability and openness. We’re building cars, they build computers. But Apple and Ferrari are connected by the same passion, the same love for the product, maniacal attention to technology, but also to design.”
Interestingly, Montezemolo also drew a parallel between the role he played in transforming Ferrari’s fortunes on his return to Maranello in 1991 on both the race track and in the road car division with that of Apple’s Steve Jobs, the company’s revered co-founder who died last year.
In 1997, the year Jobs rejoined the company, Apple’s shares were worth just $3.19. The subsequent success of its computers, phones and tablets over the next 15 years meant its shares recently hit $644, with the company now the world’s most valuable. Montezemolo paid fulsome tribute during his speech: “When you’ve got a leader in a company like Steve Jobs, people have big respect and big gratitude for what he’s done.”
He was said to have gleaned an insight into Apple’s methods and goals and, according to Wired magazine, added in his talk to the students on his own management style and ethos: “Vision is something crucial for your people.” Give them clear goals, clear priorities and give everyone the possibility to grow up [internally].”
The meeting was described by Ferrari as “friendly”, as opposed to having any specific business agenda, although the discussion between Montezemolo and Cook is nonetheless bound to create some excitement in both industries.
Montezemolo’s chief F1 concern at the moment remains ensuring the team gets back to a more competitive level, Stefano Domenicali having revealed earlier this week that the president was “studying at first hand” the on-going process of changing the working practices and operations at Maranello.