Origen: The Most Important Apple Executive You’ve Never Heard Of


One of Jobs’s trusted advisers, Bob Mansfield, Apple’s top hardware executive at the time, recruited Srouji to lead that effort. Srouji, then at IBM, was a rising star in the arcane world of semiconductor engineering. Mansfield promised him an opportunity to build something from scratch.

Srouji can’t restrain a smile when recalling competitors’ reactions to Apple’s 64-bit surprise. “When we pick something,” he says, “it’s because we think there’s a problem that nobody can do, or there is some idea that’s so unique and differentiating that the best way to do it is you have to do it yourself.”


Friends have noticed the heightened discretion. Srouji once invited his former Intel colleague, Weiser, to give a speech about chip development at Apple headquarters in Cupertino. After the presentation, an assistant escorted Weiser to Srouji’s empty office, where he noticed that the papers on the desk were all turned upside down. Then Srouji entered the room and told Weiser he had to move. “He said, ‘We are at Apple, you can’t sit here,’ ” Weiser recalls. “He offered me to sit with his secretary and said, ‘If you want to go to the bathroom, she will escort you.’ ”

Everything looks exceedingly complicated. Srouji won’t discuss costs, but Apple’s research and development expenses hit $8.1 billion last year, up from $6 billion in 2014 and $4.5 billion in 2013. Many analysts attribute the rise in large part to chip development. All Srouji will say about his budget is that Cook doesn’t scrutinize it. “I run it very tight,” he says. “I truly believe that engineers will do their best when they are constrained by either money, tools, or resources. If you become sloppy because you have too much money, that’s the wrong mindset.”