Both Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will take senior positions at Apple as part of the Beats Electronics deal, according to people close to the matter.
While neither would move to Cupertino, they would reportedly commute to Silicon Valley (or wherever is needed) from Los Angeles. Although it’s currently unknown what role Iovine and Dre would fulfill at Apple, it is thought that Iovine might become a “special adviser” to Tim Cook on creative projects. Dre was recently seen celebrating becoming “the first billionaire in hip-hop.”
So who are these two possible new members of the Apple brain trust, and what would they bring to the table?
61-year-old Iovine is currently chairman of the Universal Music Group-owned Interscope Geffen A&M records, where his contract expires early next year. However, since Universal (which owns 14 percent of Beats) would stand to gain $500 million from the deal, it is likely they will allow him out of his contract before then.
Born in 1965, 49-year-old Dr. Dre (real name: Andre Young) started out as a DJ before making his name as a hip-hop artist with gangsta rap group N.W.A. During the 1990s he created two classic albums as a solo artist with The Chronic and 2001. In 1996, he founded Aftermath Entertainment, which remains most notable for introducing the world to Eminem (a rapper whose signing was suggested by Iovine) and 50 Cent.
Since the turn of the millennium, Dre has focused more heavily on production, although he’s supposed to have been working on his final solo record, Detox, which has been rumored since 2001.
Iovine, meanwhile, started out in the early 1970s as a recording engineer, working with the likes of John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen.
The Beats by Dre headphones were designed by former Apple designer Robert Brunner
In 1990, he co-founded Interscope Records, which became Interscope Geffen A&M following a merger.
He co-produced successful 2002 movie 8-Mile, starring Eminem, and has also appeared as a judge on American Idol.
Dre and Iovine teamed up in 2008 to create the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones line, which early in its existence involved a deal with HP designed to help sell HP laptops. The headphones themselves were designed by former Apple designer Robert Brunner, the man responsible for hiring Jony Ive.
Last January, Dre and Iovine announced their expansion into the digital music world with Beats Music. During May 2013, they also donated a combined $70 million endowment to the University of Southern California to help “shape the future by nurturing the talents, passions, leadership and risk-taking of uniquely qualified students who are motivated to explore and create new art forms, technologies and business models.”
Aside from the obvious questions about how Apple stands to benefit from its reported Beats acquisition, it is interesting to look at what the (impending?) arrival of Iovine and Dr. Dre says about the company under Tim Cook.
In the past year, we’ve seen trusted Steve Jobs lieutenants Scott Forstall, Greg Christie, Peter Oppenheimer and Katie Cotton leave Apple, while notable arrivals have included former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts.
Part of the reason could be Cook’s willingness to welcome personalities from “flashier” industries like music and fashion. Although Jobs and Iovine were reportedly good friends, it is highly unlikely the record exec would have been welcomed as a full-time employee at Apple during Jobs’ tenure as CEO.
Cook, on the other hand, seems far more content to give other executives their due, as evidenced by his willingness to pose for the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek with Jony Ive and Craig Federighi.
A recent article by the Wall Street Journal suggests that while Iovine’s “rock-star temperament could still ruffle some feathers in tech-centric Cupertino, it may help Apple broker deals in the music industry and appeal to the younger consumers who gravitate to Beats headphones.”