Quit or canned? Why is Angela Ahrendts leaving Apple? [Opinion]

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Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts with poster Will.i.am  at the Apple Watch unveiling in 2014.
Did Angela Ahrendts jump or was she pushed?
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

When Apple fires an executive, the company is rarely straightforward about the situation. Apple never puts out a press release stating plainly that the executive was canned. So Tuesday’s unexpected announcement that Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s head of retail, is leaving in April led many to suspect she was fired.

That’s because the announcement came as a surprise and seems rushed. She’s certainly not retiring or quitting to join another company. The press release phrase “new personal and professional pursuits” sounds like code for “canned.”

What you need to know about Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s new head of retail

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Deirdre O’Brien, a 30-year Apple veteran, will lead Apple’s Retail and People teams.
30-year Apple veteran Deirdre O’Brien will handle the company's retail push.
Photo: Apple

Apple tapped Deirdre O’Brien to be its new retail boss today in light of the news that Angela Ahrendts plans to leave the company.

While O’Brien may not be a household name to most Apple fans, she’s been with the company for more than three decades. From the days of Steve Jobs saving Apple from bankruptcy to watching Tim Cook leading the company to a first-ever $1 trillion valuation, O’Brien has seen huge changes during her tenure with the iPhone-maker. Now she’s set to be one of the most powerful people in Silicon Valley.

Here are six things you didn’t know about the new Apple retail boss.

Today in Apple history: Gil Amelio takes over as CEO

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Bringing on Gil Amelio was viewed as a big coup for the Apple board.
Gil Amelio was viewed as the man to save Apple.
Photo: Apple

February 2: Today in Apple history: Gil Amelio takes over as Apple CEO February 2, 1996: Apple reveals that turnaround artist Gil Amelio will take over from Michael “The Diesel” Spindler as CEO of the struggling company.

With disappointing Mac sales, the disastrous “clone Mac” strategy and a failed Sun Microsystems merger to his name, Spindler is asked to resign by the Apple board. Then Cupertino enlists supposed corporate miracle-worker Amelio for the job.

Unfortunately, he turns out to be no better than Spindler.

Today in Apple history: ‘The Diesel’ becomes Apple COO

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Apple CEO Michael Spindler headed the company during trying times in the 1990s.
Michael Spindler's COO promotion put him on the path to being named future chief executive.
Image: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

January 29: Today in Apple history: Michael H. Spindler, aka 'The Diesel,' is named new Apple COO January 29, 1990: Apple CEO John Sculley appoints Michael H. Spindler as the company’s new chief operating officer.

Nicknamed “The Diesel” on account of his work ethic, Spindler’s new job continues his upward trajectory at Apple. Three years later, he will become CEO.

Steve Jobs stood in the lunch line like a regular Joe

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Steve Jobs
Be careful in the cafeteria line. You never know when your boss is behind you.
Photo: Apple

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was known to be incredibly demanding. But one retired Apple executive said when it came to standing in line in the company cafeteria, Jobs waited his turn like everyone else.

This would not be a surprising revelation about most people, but Jobs’ mercurial nature is the stuff of legend. The late Apple exec’s moods and commands have been the source material for books and movies. His character is even sung about on the opera stage.

Today in Apple history: Scott Forstall gets forced out of Apple

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Forstall
The disastrous Apple Maps showed Scott Forstall the way out of Cupertino.
Photo: Apple

October 29: Today in Apple history: Scott Forstall gets forced out of Apple after disastrous Apple Maps launch October 29, 2012: Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice president of iOS software, is ousted from the company after the disastrous Apple Maps launch.

Apple divvies up the roles previously handled by Forstall, who once seemed on a path to the top, among other high-level execs. Jony Ive assumes leadership of the Human Interface team. Craig Federighi becomes head of iOS software. Eddy Cue takes control of Maps and Siri. And Bob Mansfield “unretires” to lead a new technology group.

Today in Apple history: John Sculley bids Apple a $10 million farewell

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Former Apple CEO John Sculley talks at Web Summit 2015 in Dublin, Ireland.
After Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, John Sculley is Apple's most memorable CEO.
Photo: Web Summit/Flickr CC

October 15: Today in Apple history: CEO John Sculley forced out of Apple October 15, 1993: John Sculley, the CEO responsible for forcing Steve Jobs out of Apple, is forced to leave the company himself.

Following a terrible quarter, in which the company posted a 97 percent drop in earnings, Sculley steps down as Apple chairman. He takes $1 million in severance pay, a one-year consulting fee of $750,000, a commitment from Apple to buy his $4 million mansion and $2 million Lear jet, and $2.4 million in stock options. Total take: around $10 million.

Today in Apple history: Tim Cook becomes Apple’s chief operating officer

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Cook
Tim Cook was on his way to the top spot at Apple.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

October 14: Today in Apple history October 14, 2005: Tim Cook takes the reins as Apple’s chief operating officer, continuing an upward climb through the company’s ranks that will make him CEO less than six years later.

“Tim and I have worked together for over seven years now, and I am looking forward to working even more closely with him to help Apple reach some exciting goals during the coming years,” Steve Jobs says in a statement.

Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO

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Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs' health wouldn't allow him to continue as CEO.
Photo: Ben Stanfield/Flickr CC

August 24: Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO August 24, 2011: With his health worsening, a cancer-stricken Steve Jobs steps down from his role leading Apple. Tim Cook assumes the role of Apple’s seventh CEO.

“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,” Jobs writes in his retirement letter to the Apple board. “Unfortunately that day has come.”