What you need to know

  • Tim Cook has emailed Apple employees about the departure of Jony Ive.
  • Cook also announces the promotion of Sabih Khan to Senior Vice President and the Executive Team.
  • Cook affirms Jeff Williams takin on design reporting at Apple.

Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, typically emails the entire company when something big happens. There have been few things as big, internally, as the news of Jony Ive leaving to start his own company, LoveFrom, but Apple retaining that company and Jony's services going forward.

Buzzfeed obtained a copy of Tim Cook's email on the subject.

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.

ET is the executive team, or Tim Cook, Jeff Williams, and the group of senior vice-presidents that meet every Monday morning and otherwise guides Apple through its business, short and longterm business decisions.

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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.

I'm not sure if there's ever been a SVP at Apple, or member of the ET, that didn't report directly to Tim Cook before. At least no one that comes immediately to mind. And yes, Khan was part of the famous Tim Cook story involving a supply chain problem where Tim looked up and asked "why are you still here?" and Khan drove straight to the airport and got on a plane.

He's to Jeff Williams what Jeff Williams was previously to Tim Cook in the operations organization.

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.

I have so many thoughts on this. Check out the video I posted last night or read the column if you prefer.

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.

A while ago I had the chance to chat briefly with Jeff, and he mentioned how he sees product. He thinks deeply about design but not just the industrial or human interface aspects, but the human and social repercussions. I think that's a consequence of his running health products at Apple over the last few years.

Prior to Jony Ive, I believe HI was technically in the software engineering org but it didn't really matter because they really reported into Steve Jobs. There'll never be another Steve and there'll never be another Jony, but there'll always be someone new.

We'll only ever be able to judge Jeff, or whomever else ultimately becomes SVP of Design at Apple, based on what they ship.

VECTOR | Rene Ritchie

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