Tim Cook Should Nominate These 3 Innovators to Apple's Board of Directors

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, Tim Cook is actively seeking new directors to add to Apple's (AAPL) board.

But who would be the best choice?

Looking at the composition of the current Apple board, six of the board's seven outside directors are age 63 or older. Many of them have served more than a decade on the board and were known for their explicit loyalty to Steve Jobs. Two directors, Intuit's (INTU) chief executive Bill Campbell and J. Crew's chief executive Millard "Mickey" Drexler, have sat on the board since the late 1990s. There is only one woman and there are no people of color.

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The Apple board mirrors Silicon Valley's lack of business leadership diversity -- it is mostly white and mostly male. It is no wonder that Tim Cook is looking to infuse the Apple Board with new membership, more diverse in its composition and sympathetic to his style of leadership and vision for the future.

There has been speculation that Cook might try to add members to the board who share his own progressive social agenda. Since taking over, he has pushed Apple to be more environmentally friendly and philanthropic. Cook implemented a donation-matching program, a move that Jobs had long resisted. Tim Cook has also been a vocal proponent of gay rights and workplace equality.

Tim Cook has spent 13 years with the company in logistics and operations. Whereas Steve Jobs' main focus was "creating great products," Cook's approach to running the company has been more low-key and strategic.

So why not add board members who are more tech-savvy, entrepreneurial and with diverse backgrounds in order to add value to the discussion and act as a valuable sounding board?

I don't know who Tim Cook has in mind. But here are some potential board members who could benefit Apple.

The Disruptor: Elon Musk

CNBC recently published its list of 50 industry disruptors -- private companies in 27 industries whose innovations are revolutionizing the business landscape. Steve Jobs was an industry disruptor.

Who is a current-day Steve Jobs?

Some say it is Elon Musk. He is the poster boy for product innovation and out-of-the-box ideas, definitely an industry disruptor. His company SpaceX is at the top of CNBC's Disruptor List. The public companies he is involved with are also disruptors: Tesla (TSLA) and Solar City (SCTY). Apple's board of directors could use a disruptor like Elon Musk to "shake things up" like Steve Jobs used to do.

The Tech Guru: Mary Meeker

Although there is already a woman on the Apple board, former Avon (AVP) CEO Andrea Jung, the Apple board could use another female voice with a strong technical background. There are plenty of capable women in the technology sector that could add value on an Apple board.

Mary Meeker, a former Wall Street analyst, is one of Silicon Valley's most knowledgeable tech gurus. Her annual "State of the Internet" presentation is state-of-the-art. She is also on some other high-profile boards. A tech guru like Meeker would be a welcome presence on an Apple board.

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The Media Entrepreneur: Dr. Dre

To counter the dearth of minority leadership in Silicon Valley, why not add someone like Dr. Dre to the Apple board? He instantly comes to mind as an entrepreneur and co-founder of the Beats Electronics brand recently acquired by Apple for $3 billion.

Dr. Dre may not have invented the Internet like current board member Al Gore infamously said once, but he is definitely much cooler. The Apple board needs someone who can contribute a different social perspective and can help translate that in to new consumer products.

Over the next several months, the Apple story is going to be about new product launches (iPhone6 and iWatch) and execution. But over the next several years if Apple wants to remain on top, it must stay at the forefront of innovation as the brand of choice in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Adding new blood, ideas, and diversity to its board is an important step in maintaining Apple's position as a market leader in the future.

At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

TheStreet Ratings team rates APPLE INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate APPLE INC (AAPL) a BUY. This is driven by a number of strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • AAPL's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 2.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 4.7%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • Although AAPL's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.14 is very low, it is currently higher than that of the industry average. Along with the favorable debt-to-equity ratio, the company maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.32, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. When compared to other companies in the Computers & Peripherals industry and the overall market, APPLE INC's return on equity exceeds that of the industry average and significantly exceeds that of the S&P 500.
  • 43.45% is the gross profit margin for APPLE INC which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 22.39% is above that of the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $13,538.00 million or 8.26% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, APPLE INC has also modestly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 5.28%.

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