We now know that Utah Sen. Mike Lee has emerged as the closer when it comes to luring the world’s biggest names in tech to the annual Silicon Slopes Tech Summit, having been “the guy” behind bringing Apple CEO Tim Cook to this year’s event and, last year, Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
So, can Lee wield his tech clout to get a quintessentially Utah term into the Apple corporate lexicon?
Lee’s office is reporting that the state’s senior senator recently put a care package together to thank Cook for his visit to Utah last month. The Apple CEO’s visit included a keynote discussion at the Silicon Slopes event where he joined Lee onstage and attended a fundraiser for Utah-based LGBTQ youth outreach and support organization Encircle. Cook also held a few small, private meetings with some of the state’s leading tech innovators.
Lee’s package to Cook included a variety of bottled fry sauces from the state, a wink-and-nod to the unique Utah condiment coming up as a point of conversation during the summit appearance. But, in an accompanying letter, Lee managed to slip in a sly postscript suggestion for Cook as the company ponders the name of the next version of its popular operating system:
I am writing you this quick note using the one device I can’t live without. I remain grateful to you for joining me for this year’s Silicon Slopes Summit. I particularly appreciate your kind words about Utah innovators. Wanting to change the world for the better is something in which Utahns take tremendous pride. I believe we are doing just that. I am also aware that you’ve been serving up a batch of fresh chips. As we discussed on stage, in Utah we have something that goes well with chips, fries, or whatever else you’re dipping. So, please accept this variety of Utah fry sauces as a thank you for visiting our great state.
p.s. MacOS Zion has a nice ring to it.
During his chat with Lee at the 2021 Silicon Slopes Summit last month, Cook delivered what might be the best compliment ever for Utah’s booming tech ecosystem.
“What I look for when I go places is people who want to change the world,” Cook said. “Technology should serve humanity and not the other way around. And that’s what I see here.”
Cook, who took over the reins at Apple after the company’s legendary founder Steve Jobs died from complications related to pancreatic cancer in 2011, also shared a little advice for up-and-coming startup founders looking to replicate the success of the world’s most valuable company.
“Sometimes people are so looking forward to the next thing ... that they forget the real joy of life is the journey,” Cook said.
With a prompt from Lee, Cook also touched on personal privacy issues and Apple’s unique policy among the world’s device makers in refusing to build backdoors or access failsafes into their products. That stance has, on occasion, earned the company the ire of agencies like the FBI, which has sought legislative mandates requiring device makers to build in access overrides to aid law enforcement in criminal investigations.
“We view privacy as a fundamental human right,” Cook said. “What we see is that your phone has more information on you than if someone went through your house and opened every door and closet and everything in your home. Your phone has your history, your financial information, your health information, your close contacts, who you call.
“The only person that has the key to your (Apple) phone is you and we think that’s the way it should be.”
Cook also noted that the technical design reality is that you can’t build a device backdoor that only works for the people in the white hats.
“People say do it (program a device backdoor) just for this government agency, but it’s not possible from an engineering standpoint,” Cook said. “You can’t create a backdoor that’s just for the good guys.”
While he was in Utah, Cook also met with representatives from Ancestry, Instructure, Red Games and ResusciTech, all of which have developed apps that are finding success on Apple’s App Store.
No word yet on how Lee’s MacOS Zion pitch was received by Cook and his team at Apple.