This morning on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street”, co-host Simon Hobbs accidentally “outed” Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The discussion was sparked by former BP CEO John Browne’s revelation about the difficulties he faced as an “openly” gay chief exec. (There is a distinction here about being openly gay in one’s personal life and being open in the workplace)

In any case, during this discussion where it is made clear that John Browne is the FIRST Fortune 500 chief executive to go on record about his sexual preference, Simon Hobbs offered up: “I think Tim Cook is fairly open about the fact he’s gay at the head of Apple, isn’t he?”……followed up by the most awesome 3 seconds of awkward silence on national television.

NY Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Jim Stewart finally responds with “Ummmm….No.”

Hobbs’ response was “Oh dear, was than in error?”

Another panelist starts to say: “I think you just…”


I suppose I never really gave it much thought, but I can’t see why sexual preference would matter in the world of business. I mean, in the field of professional sports I guess it might be an issue with homophobic players in same-sex showers (or homophobic fans I suppose). But even there not a person in the US doesn’t know about Michael Sam being drafted by the Rams.

Pro athletes are primarily measured by their quantifiable performance. I suppose there are unmeasurable qualities that draw fans too. However, CEOs are solely measured by their financial performance. Is the company doing better because they are steering the ship? There are countless ways to quantify that….and none of them have anything to do with their personal life.

Is the corporate world still so dominated by the old boy network that this matters? In the same panel, columnist James Stewart mentions that he contacted several gay CEOs and all were unwilling to come out on record or even be part of the discussion.

I suppose I should thank Simon Hobbs for his public gaffe for bringing this issue to our attention.

I’m purposely not addressing the issue of Tim Cook because….well…it doesn’t matter, does it?

Kara Swisher has a great article at re/code……READ MORE