Why are so many high-ranking execs jumping Apple’s ship?

Tech giant Apple had some major shake-ups in its leadership team toward the end of last year.

Why are so many high-ranking execs jumping Apple’s ship?
The Apple Inc logo is shown outside the company's 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S. June 13, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo/File Photo

The backstory: Tech giant Apple had some major shake-ups in its leadership team toward the end of last year. We're talking about losing 11 execs, including some VPs responsible for key functions like industrial design, software engineering and privacy matters. These people kept the company running smoothly day in and day out, so their departures were a pretty big deal.

More recently: Most of the executives leaving the company have been with Apple for over 15 years. And insiders have said that more high-ranking execs might be on their way out soon. Of course, this means a lot of new hires have been brought in as replacements, or in some cases, responsibilities have been shifted in departments to handle the losses.

The development: So, why the sudden flurry of executive exits? According to people familiar with the matter, it might be because of issues like more bureaucratic red tape, tensions between departments and shifting resources toward long-term projects. Some VPs may have also felt they weren't given the tools or clarity they needed to move up the ladder. On top of that, the company's stock fell 30% last year, which can hit execs in the wallet when stocks often make up a good chunk of their compensation. Even CEO Tim Cook is feeling that – shareholders approved on Friday a new pay package for him that includes about a 40% reduction. Over 80% of his pay this year will come from stock, with 75% tied to the company's performance. So, no pressure.

Key comments:

“Apple’s design team brings together expert creatives from around the world and across many disciplines to imagine products that are undeniably Apple,” said an Apple spokesman in a statement, referring to the departure of the head of hardware design Evans Hankey. “The senior design team has strong leaders with decades of experience. Evans plans to stay on as we work through the transition, and we’d like to thank her for her leadership and contributions.”

“After nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process, and culture at Apple that is without peer. Today it is stronger, more vibrant, and more talented than at any point in Apple’s history,” said Jony Ive, former chief design officer, in a public statement when he left Apple to form his independent design studio in 2019.

“The team will certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan, and [COO] Jeff [Williams], who have been among my closest collaborators. I have the utmost confidence in my designer colleagues at Apple, who remain my closest friends, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come,” added Ive.