SAN FRANCISCO — By any measure, it was an epic day for Tim Cook.
On Tuesday he was sitting on stage at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco being interviewed by Goldman Sachs president Gary D. Cohn when Apple became the first company to close at more than $700 billion in market value on Tuesday.
"You will always remember exactly where you were," Cohn said to Cook.
Cook made other headlines at the conference.
He announced that Apple had formed a partnership with First Solar to build an $848 million, 1,300-acre solar farm in Monterey County to power its headquarters, data center in Newark, Calif., all Apple offices and 52 Apple stores in California.
The farm will result in significant energy cost savings for Apple, Cook said.
"We know at Apple that climate change is real. Our view is that the time for talk is past and the time for action is now," Cook said.
The solar project is part of the California Flats project on Hearst's 73,000-acre Jack Ranch in Monterey County and may be one of the largest ever built for a commercial user. It will add 130 megawatts of new solar power to California, enough to power about 50,000 California homes.
The announcement was praised by Greenpeace.
"It's one thing to talk about being 100% renewably powered, but it's quite another thing to make good on that commitment with the incredible speed and integrity that Apple has shown in the past two years," Greenpeace Senior IT Sector Analyst Gary Cook said in a statement. "Apple still has work to do to reduce its environmental footprint, but other Fortune 500 CEOs would be well served to make a study of Tim Cook, whose actions show that he intends to take Apple full-speed ahead toward renewable energy with the urgency that our climate crisis demands."
The move toward solar comes as Cook puts his imprint on the company famous for being founded and run by the late Steve Jobs.
The socially conscious Cook has set himself apart from Jobs by focusing on making smart business decisions that are also good for the environment and for the advancement of society.
While on stage, Cook noted the lack of women in the audience at the financial conference.
"I see too many men in this audience," Cook said. "There needs to be a lot more women and diversity."
The technology giant is coming off a record-breaking fourth quarter fueled by stunning demand for the first larger-display iPhones.
And Apple, already the world's most valuable company, became the first company to close at more than $700 billion in market value on Tuesday.
The success has thrust Tim Cook into an even brighter spotlight.
Once doubted as a successor to Jobs, Cook has emerged as Apple's most valuable player.
The question now: Can Apple keep up the growth it achieved last quarter?
Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the quarter, a jump from the 33.8 million it sold in the year-ago period.
In the fourth quarter, Apple commanded 93% of the profit in the handset industry, according to a report from investment firm Canaccord Genuity.
Apple's revenue jumped 30% in the fourth quarter. Its net profit rose 38% to $18 billion.