Tim Cook Memo: Apple launches RSU shares program for all employees to retain talent

Tim Cook

Apple today announced a significant new initiative internally for employees that “effectively [makes] everyone who works for Apple eligible for an RSU grant.” RSU grants, or Restricted Stock Units, have typically been reserved for top Apple management and product engineering roles as a way to retain employee talent for long periods of time. For example, Apple CEO Tim Cook was granted 1 million shares in 2011, following the succession of Steve Jobs, that will vest over time through 2021. According to an email from Cook to all employees today, a similar plan, with obviously much smaller amounts of shares, is now starting:


I’m writing you today to announce a new stock ownership program for employees.

For many years, we have offered people across the company the opportunity to become shareholders in Apple by participating in the Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP), which makes Apple stock available at a discount that’s exclusive to our employees. Many of you have taken advantage of this program, and I am told we have one of the highest participation rates of any company offering employee stock purchase plans.

In addition to the ESPP, employees in certain roles have been eligible to receive restricted stock units. Each year, the management team recommends eligible employees — typically from our product areas — to receive RSUs as an incentive to continue their important contributions to Apple. Each grant is approved by the Board of Directors.

This year, I’m excited to let you know that the Executive Team has created a new program for stock ownership through RSU grants. It’s designed to reach employees who were not previously eligible, including many in our amazing retail and AppleCare teams.

This new program extends eligibility to everyone not covered by other RSU programs, effectively making everyone who works at Apple eligible for an RSU grant. This is an unusual step, and very special — just like our team.

Please check HRWeb for details on this new program.

At Apple, our most important resource — our soul — is our people. Along with our many progressive benefit plans, this is another way for us to say thanks. On behalf of the Executive Team, I’d like to thank you for your many contributions to Apple. Working with all of you is the privilege of a lifetime.



Notably, these shares will serve as a significant bonus to both retail and AppleCare employees in addition to people working in Apple’s corporate divisions. Sources in Apple Retail say that RSU awards began being distributed to employees today, with initial grants ranging from $1000 to $2000 worth of shares. These amounts will likely increase based on the amount of time with the company, position, and assigned project. As Cook notes in his email, this type of program is not typically offered by major corporations, and it is clear that the company is going out of its way to retain employee talent.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel


  1. chaityacshah - 7 years ago


  2. rogifan - 7 years ago

    Way to go Apple. At the Fortune 20 company I work for only people at certain grade levels get restricted stock units, though every one is eligible to participate in the employed stock purchase program.

  3. jameshaverly - 7 years ago

    This is great!!

  4. rnc - 7 years ago

    The problem with AAPL, is that stock holders are BRAIN DEAD DUMB, and every single stupid bad news about Apple, they short, they are too susceptible to “Apple is doomed” news, anyone can confirm this on Google Finance, for example, a deep slide happened when some idiots started saying that the Apple Watch was flunking, while it wasn’t.

    With this, smarter people will own a better share of AAPL, and hopefully the stock manipulation operations won’t work anymore.

    • 89p13 - 7 years ago

      Not this stockholder. Price drops cause me to buy more Apple stock as I see the real intrinsic value of the products and the people who run the company. So far, I’m not sorry I follow this philosophy and am betting my retirement will be much better thanks to Apple.


  5. Iven Tenz (@ivenalot) - 7 years ago

    And who has to suffer? The consumer with 24GB SSD in 1TB Fusion Drive, 16GB entry iPhone, no RAM user-upgradable in iMac 21.5 inch and closed Mac Minis. Then of course, I could offer that to my employees as well.

  6. alex n (@gigatexal) - 7 years ago

    you realize, even if the stock tanks, they were given this stock for free? What company regardless of the product offers their retail employees stock options? Depending on the restriction, hopefully not too draconian, this is a huge windfall for most employees.

    • r00fus1 - 7 years ago

      Uh… I have RSUs (from a different company), and you pay tax when your RSUs vest (generally paid for by selling more RSUs to cover). It’s not free.

      It’s really just deferred compensation, that may result in appreciated gains if the company stock continues to grow, or diminished gains if the stock drops.

  7. jamesjonesdet - 7 years ago

    Actually in the Bay Area RSUs for technology companies is fairly common. I can’t say it was common outside Bay though.

  8. Apple is taking another step forward to express their appreciation for their staff. Free stocks!!