The acting chief executive of Apple, Tim Cook, has been deemed the most powerful gay man in Silicon Valley.

Cook, who takes over while Steve Jobs takes two years’ medical leave, has not spoken publicly about his sexual orientation.

But with Jobs in the background, he is expected to become a public figure.

Valleyrag reported: “It looks increasingly like Steve Jobs’ reign at Apple is over. If the CEO doesn’t return from his third, indefinite medical leave, COO Tim Cook will succeed him, marking a new era not only for Apple but for gay progress.

“Cook. . . has been as reticent to acknowledge his sexual orientation as he has his prowess in overseeing the company supply chain. But as Jobs fades back, and as his absences grow more prolonged and uncertain, Cook will become, by necessity, a public figure.”

The website said it had been told by “two well-placed sources” that Cook is gay and that his sexuality has been the topic of at least some discussion within the company.

Some executives were said to be happy to encourage him to come out, but were concerned about whether it would “impact the perception of the Apple brand”.