Worse than death and taxes is change. Those who manage it, fare well. Those who can’t manage change, bid farewell.
Two of Apple’s long term, top executives are set to leave the company this week. One departure was announced last year. One was announced today. What’s Up? Who’s next? Who fills the shoes?
Apple’s Chief Technology Officer, Avie Tevanian will leave the company March 31, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Tevanian is the brains behind Mac OS X, and his departure is a surprise.
Back in October 2005, Apple’s senior vice president of the iPod division (and former head of Apple hardware), Jon Rubenstein, announced he planned to retire March 31.
Two of Apple’s top ranked executives are leaving on the same day. One, in an announced retirement six months earlier, the other with hardly any notice.
What’s up at Apple? Rubenstein’s announcement last fall came at a time when the high flying iPod division is at the peak of success.
Apple’s iPod has a nearly 80-percent market share among portable music players in the US.
While disappointing, a six month notice of retirement made it appear obvious that all was going according to plan.
Now we receive news of Tevanian’s departure, not at the WWDC in August, where Apple is expected to roll out Mac OS X Leopard while Microsoft’s long-awaited, much-scorned Windows Vista languishes years behind schedule, but with short notice.
High profile executives usually leave a company to “pursue other interests” when something is wrong. What’s wrong at Apple?
To be fair, Avie Tevanian has been around as Steve Job’s chief operating system general for two decades. That’s a long time in this industry. First, as the father of NeXT’s operating system back in the mid-1980s, then as the chief of Mac OS X when Steve Jobs came back to Apple.
Since then, Mac OS X has won the hearts and minds of Macs and converts alike as stable, dependable, secure, and a platform for the future, that’s actually here now.
Compare that to Microsoft’s Windows Vista which is the operating system of two years ago which won’t be here until next year.
Microsoft is against the ropes and struggling. Apple is gaining market share, and may lead in mindshare. Why would Tevanian leave before Mac OS X Leopard is announced and delivered?
Burn out? Possibly. 20 years of living with Steve Jobs could be a challenge. Cashing in the chips? Just desserts are certainly deserved. Cashing in the chips? Does that mean there’s no more steam left in Apple’s engine?
Since returning to head Apple in 1997, Steve Jobs has kept a remarkably stable set of executives, of which Tevanian was considered of key importance. His departure now, before the launch of OS X Leopard, and with a sudden announcement, is ominous.
Apple’s stable of executives have guided the company well, through turbulent times, through success. Two senior, long-term executives leaving on the same day is unusual.
Rubenstein’s departure fits in the mold of previous CFO Fred Anderson, who announced his retirement early, and was succeeded by Peter Oppenheimer. That’s a transition the stock market likes to see.
Apple’s stock is already $25 off the high of recent months and the announcement of new product announcements hasn’t been announced yet, fueling fears that there may not be as many new products in the pipeline as expected. Or wanted, by both the stock market, and Apple’s customers.
What does Avie Tevanian know that the rest of us don’t know? Are Apple’s legal problems about to put a torpedo in the side of the fast sailing ship of computer commerce?
Or, is this just the change we have to get used to, change we must expect, and change we have to look forward to in the future? How long will Steve Jobs head Apple?
Heads are rolling these days. Microsoft announced another shakeup in the Windows division. Microsoft employees are calling for CEO Steve Ballmer’s head on a platter.
Why is Apple’s operating system whiz kid leaving before the job is finished (Mac OS X Leopard)? Or, is the job finished?
I have two views and haven’t settled on one. Yet.
View No. 1? There’s trouble at Apple and the executives are cashing in while the treasure is still available to be carried home. Tevanian’s quickly announced departure, prior to Mac OS X Leopard’s announcement, adds fuel to that flame.
View No. 2? This is the normal course of change, not always smooth (as with Rubenstein’s departure), but typical, and not much to be excited about.
With the exception of Linus Torvalds, one man does not an operating system make, and Avie Tevanian has had lots of help from some very bright young minds to shape Mac OS X as we know it, and they, and the rest of the Apple executive management team will both carry on, but carry the company to greater success.
The drama is with View No. 1. There are problems somewhere and we don’t have a good view. Yet. View No. 2 is why my mental fingers are crossed.
What about you? Is this changing of the guard much ado about not much, or a glimpse into Apple’s inner workings that may not be working too well?