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The Real Surprise of Jony Ive’s Exit From Apple Isn’t the Exit—Data Sheet

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Sometimes a surprise departure isn't much of a surprise. But the aftermath sure could be. Aaron in for Adam at week's end, contemplating the "surprise" departure of Apple design chief Jony Ive.

Although Ive joined Apple in 1992 while Steve Jobs was occupied elsewhere, the amiable Brit became one of the genius CEO's most trusted and important lieutenants upon his return. Ive gets credit for the iconic designs of the iMac, the iPod, and the iPhone. But he's been increasingly checked out of Apple's product design process since the Apple Watch hit the scene in 2015. His last–and perhaps most lasting–legacy at Apple was the design of its spaceship-like new headquarters. After more than a decade of planning, design, and construction, the effort finally came to a complete and official end last month in a spectacular dedication ceremony featuring a concert by Lady Gaga. So it was time for Ive to go. “This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change,” he told The Financial Times in an exclusive interview.

Still, the big surprise was what happened next. Apple, the company made famous by its unique designs, did not name a replacement for Ive, who carries the title "chief design officer" and reports directly to CEO Tim Cook. Instead, two vice presidents, Evans Hankey and Alan Dye, were put in charge of hardware and software design, respectively. They'll report to chief operating officer Jeff Williams, not Cook. That alarmed longtime Apple watcher and online columnist John Gruber:

I don’t think that “chief design officer” should have been a one-off title created just for Jony Ive. Not just for Apple, but especially at Apple, it should be a permanent C-level title...I don’t worry that Apple is in trouble because Jony Ive is leaving; I worry that Apple is in trouble because he’s not being replaced.

With the recent departure of retail boss Angela Ahrendts, who also reported to Cook, the Ive move starts to look like a trend (though Cook added A.I. expert John Giannandrea to his direct reports at the end of 2018). Could other longtime Apple managers be heading out soon? Software and services have never been more important to Apple, but is Golden State Warriors super fan Eddy Cue the right person to take those units to the next level? And tongues have begun wagging about chief marketer Phil Schiller's future intentions since Apple hired Publicis Groupe chief creative officer Nick Law this week for a top marketing role (Law told colleagues he was leaving for a "once in a lifetime opportunity.")

We may whine and complain about Apple's icky laptop keyboards and belittle its $1,000 monitor stands, but on the whole, Ive's legacy will go down as one of the all-time greats. We'll have to stay tuned to see what happens next.

Aaron Pressman
@ampressman
aaron.pressman@fortune.com

NEWSWORTHY

Nothing to see here. Top politicians who like to post offensive tweets long have evaded Twitter’s suspension guidelines due to the “public interest.” Now Twitter is taking a half-step to punish even such famous tweeters as President Trump. The service will start pasting a label over the posts warning of possibly abusive content that has not been taken down due to the public interest. Readers will have to click through the label to see what’s so upsetting.

Look me in the eye. Much news on the facial recognition beat. Somerville, Mass., became the second city in the United States to ban police use of the technology, following the vision of San Francisco. An investigation by web site Jezebel found that Amazon’s Rekognition program isn’t good at identifying transgender and nonbinary people. And the largest manufacturer of body cameras for police, Axon, said it would not add facial recognition capabilities to its products. But who needs facial recognition anyways? The U.S. military has developed a laser-based system dubbed Jetson that can identify individuals based on their heartbeat from a distance of 200 meters.

Scourge of the spreadsheet jockeys. Security researchers at Mimecast found a serious vulnerability in Microsoft Excel that could allow hackers to take over computers and launch malware. Microsoft has yet to issue a fix for the flaw in Excel’s Power Query tool, but announced a workaround to tighten security.

Fighting the last war. The so-called crypto wars over whether the government should ban encryption technology that can’t be cracked by law enforcers have raged on and off in Washington, D.C., now for several decades. According to Politico, the Trump Administration is considering reviving the effort to ban unbreakable computer codes. Let the battle commence! While we’re discussing the crossover of national security and tech, the Wall Street Journal has a somewhat hyperbolic story behind the recent Trump decision to ban Advanced Micro Devices from sharing chip technology with a Chinese firm.

FOR YOUR WEEKEND READING PLEASURE

A few longer reads that I came across this week that may be appealing for your weekend reading pleasure:

How One Nonprofit Is Using Venture-Capital Tactics to Help Save Africa’s Last 20,000 Wild Lions (WSJ Magazine)
In an era of Instagram-length attention spans, wildlife conservation philanthropies are trying new tactics to bring urgent attention to threatened species. Actress Michelle Rodriguez, model Jordan Barrett and photographer Gray Sorrenti band together to pitch in.

The Hidden Cost of GoFundMe Health Care (The New Yorker)
GoFundMe has acquired a wishing-well mystique. The sorts of help that people seek, meanwhile, trace the profile of American need. A third of the money raised on GoFundMe in 2017 was for medical expenses.

Can Democrats Win Back the Internet in the Age of Trump? (Vanity Fair)
As the curtain rises on the 2020 election, Democrats are still clinging to the quaint notion that political discourse on the internet will fix itself, that facts and reason will somehow overcome the baser human instincts that gave rise to Trump. A group of rebellious tech start-ups is trying to change that—by fighting back against Trump on his terms. Can it work?

A dirty, rotten, double crossing (true) story of what happened to the Italian American mob (GQ)
In the crucible of modernity that was 20th-century America, no one commanded more attention from writers, filmmakers and law makers than the Sicilian mafia. Sure, crimes change – rackets, extortion and hit men fell from the headlines, replaced by hackers, dark web drug runners and data fraud – but the goodfellas stuck around.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Perhaps the greatest ever invention for keeping organized, Evernote was a godsend when it debuted about 10 years ago. The ability to create a database of notes online and on your computer, later on your smartphone, too, was insanely useful. I still rely on Evernote for all kinds of tasks, including curating the Data Sheet. But the past few years have not been kind to Evernote the company, as former Fortune colleague, now New York Times reporter Erin Griffith recounts in this colorful tale of the startup’s travails. CEO Ian Small is the fourth leader in the company’s short history, she notes.

In a season of multibillion-dollar I.P.O.s for Slack, Pinterest, Zoom, Uber, Lyft and others, Evernote is nowhere close. While younger start-ups are minting hundreds of millionaires and creating a new generation of semiretired tech millennials, Evernote is in the midst of a difficult turnaround led by Mr. Small, an unassuming, under-the-radar entrepreneur who took over in October.

In Silicon Valley, the idea that most start-ups won’t make it to a splashy public offering or acquisition is not just understood, but embraced. “Fail fast, fail often” is one of the region’s earliest and best-recognized catchphrases. The implication is that people and companies that don’t find success can transition, efficiently and without stigma, to more promising ventures. But Evernote’s struggles illustrate a harsher truth: For many start-ups of a certain size, failure rarely happens abruptly.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Apple’s Latest Acquisition Shows Self-Driving Cars Are in the Doldrums of Disappointment By David Z. Morris

Amazon Counter Turns Rivals’ Storefronts—Starting With Rite-Aid—Into Package Pickup Centers By Kevin Kelleher

WhatsApp’s Latest Test Brings It and Facebook Even Closer Together By Xavier Harding

Verizon 5G Service Expands to Two More Cities: Denver and Providence By Aaron Pressman

Classic Rock Is Reanimating Summer 2019’s Movies By Hugh Hart

More People Named Jeffrey Got Top CEO Jobs Than Women Last Year By Shawn Tully

How to Watch U.S. vs. France Women’s World Cup Match Live Online for Free—Even Without Cable By Chris Morris

BEFORE YOU GO

Even in this age of excessive TV, with more than 500 shows in production, it’s getting hard to kill a show that producers still want to produce. In the latest case, Netflix cancelled its fantastic reboot of the Norman Lear comedy One Day at a Time, but CBS-owned basic cable network Pop TV has decided to pick up the show for a fourth season. Catch up with the first three seasons on Netflix. You won’t be disappointed.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.