Jony Ive’s exit from Apple caused by corporate culture changes and growing frustration


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Former Apple design chief Jony Ive has left the iPhone maker exhausted and weary following CEO Tim Cook’s numerous structural changes, an article based on a book about Apple’s transformation claims, the movie “Yesterday” being part of Ive’s announcement to leave for his design team.

Jony Ive left Apple in 2019, after nearly three decades working for the tech giant on several of its core products. The departure was a shock exit, but inevitable due to a culture change in the company.

In a New York Times article based on Tripp Mickle’s book “After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul”, I quit after years of frustration seeing the company migrate from a design-centric entity to a more utilitarian entity.

The narrative begins by highlighting the relationship between Ive and former CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs, detailing the creation of the iconic iMac. With Ive’s presence sometimes seen as a relief to Jobs, the two worked closely together, with Jobs constantly visiting the company’s design studio.

With the introduction of Cook and the death of Jobs, Ive’s experience at the company had changed significantly. Cook apparently showed less interest in design than Jobs, with far fewer studio visits while creating the Apple Watch.

During changes in focus for the Apple Watch from fashion to fitness, Ive reportedly approached Cook about his fatigue and plans to retire from the company. Arguments with co-workers over promotion and management of hundreds of employees instead of the small 20-person design team also drained Ive considerably.

Fear of Ive’s departure affecting the stock price prompted Cook to reduce Ive’s responsibilities and make him design director. At that time, very few people at Apple apparently knew about Ive’s frustration and burnout.

The changes have also apparently led Ive to work differently, going from almost daily product reviews to sometimes not judging designs for a few weeks.

For the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, I gathered software designers for a product review at the San Francisco social club, The Battery. After failing to apologize for arriving almost three hours late, I reviewed the impressions and provided feedback, but made no final decision at this time.

While Ive was apparently absent, Cook continued to move the business in a new direction, including bringing in former Boeing chief financial officer James Bell as the company’s director to replace the specialist. Marketing Mickey Drexler. I was not in favor of the change, commenting “He’s another one of those accountants” to a colleague.

The fact that Cook allowed the finance department to have more say also angered Ive, who decided to audit outside contractors.

On Ive’s decision to leave, the article talks about an evening in June 2019 when Ive gathered his design teams in a theater for a private screening of “Yesterday.” The film’s choice was apt, as it was a “two-hour exploration of the eternal conflict between art and commerce,” the article states.

After the foreshadowing film, Ive told his crews “Art needs proper space and support to grow. When you’re really big, that’s especially important.”

A day later, the design teams were asked to clear their calendars for a meeting with Ive, who told them that with the completion of the new building, his time at the company was over. I congratulated the team and urged them to maintain the Apple identity, while assuring them that he would continue to work as a consultant through his design company LoveFrom.

Ever since Ive left and received a CEO-worthy release package worth over $100 million, design at Apple has seemingly taken a back seat to features and performance. The designers said Ive’s absence has prompted more collaboration with colleagues working in engineering than before, but at the same time they face more financial pressures on their work.