Tim Cook, appointed chief executive of Apple today, following the resignation of Steve Jobs, has in the past been described as the “most powerful gay man in Silicon Valley.”

Although Mr Cook has never spoken publicly about his sexuality, he has never denied the claim that he is gay.

Mr Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple after a period of medical leave. In his resignation letter he said “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

He added: “As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.”

Mr Cook, took over while Mr Jobs took medical leave in January and has become an increasingly important public figure.

At the time, Valleyrag reported: “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”.