Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a memo to all Apple employees Thursday informing them that long-time Chief Design Officer Jony Ive is leaving the company.
Instead of talking about the giant hole Ive will leave behind, Cook spun the Apple design guru’s exit as an “important evolution” for the company. He also talked about how great it will be for everyone as Ive pursues his passions as head of his new design firm, LoveFrom.
Ive’s departure comes just a few months after retail boss Angela Ahrendts left the company, five years after she took the reins of Cupertino’s retail operations. The big executive changes come as Apple struggles with slumping iPhone sales and ongoing supply chain uncertainties in the midst of growing trade war between the United States and China.
In his memo to employees, obtained by Buzzfeed, Cook says Apple COO Jeff Williams will to step up to work with the design team. That move drew some raised eyebrows from Apple fans. But Cook credits Williams with building a “cross-organizational team, unprecedented in scope” to produce the Apple Watch.
Not all Apple fans are heartbroken to see Jony Ive leave, however. Even though Ive’s contributions to Apple and consumer electronics design are legendary, he has had one foot out the door pretty much since Steve Jobs died.
It seemed like Apple Park was his last great project. Now that it’s done, it seems like this could be a great time for Apple to inject some fresh blood into its design leadership.
Tim Cook’s memo on Jony Ive leaving Apple
Read Cook’s full memo right here:
I’m writing to let you know about some changes to the ET involving two people who embody Apple’s values and whose work will help define Apple’s future.
I’m happy to announce that Sabih Khan has been named to the executive team as senior vice president of Operations reporting to Jeff Williams. Sabih has worked on every Apple product since the late 90s, always committed to delighting our customers while advancing quality, sustainability and responsibility in manufacturing. His team makes possible some of the most beloved — and most complex — products in the world, and Sabih leads them with heart. I am thrilled to have him overseeing our supply chain.
Today, we also mark another important evolution for our company. After nearly 30 years at Apple, Jony Ive is starting an independent design firm which will count Apple among its primary clients and will depart the company as an employee later this year. Jony’s contributions are legendary, from the central role he played in Apple’s revival beginning in the late 90s, through the iPhone and perhaps his most ambitious project, Apple Park, where he has put so much of his energy and care in the past few years. I am proud to call Jony a friend, and those who know him know his ideas and curiosities are boundless. We will all benefit — as individuals who value great design, and as a company — as he pursues his passions and continues his dedicated work with Apple.
Of all his accomplishments, Jony cites the team he helped to build as one of his proudest. His longtime collaborators, Evans Hankey and Alan Dye, are strong stewards of Apple’s design ethic and creative culture. Collaboration and teamwork are defining features of Apple’s success across the company.
Evans and Alan will report to Jeff Williams. As many of you know, Jony and Jeff have been close collaborators and partners for many years. In particular, Jeff’s leadership in developing Apple Watch brought together a cross-organizational team, unprecedented in scope, to produce Apple’s most personal device ever. This is what Apple does at its best: elevating a category beyond its imagined limits, and revealing how a single device can be so much more than the sum of its parts. I’m incredibly excited about the design team’s work, both underway and yet to come.