Brain drain? Apple’s Bob Mansfield is 2nd key exec to leave since Steve Jobs died

“One of the concerns after Steve Jobs died was whether Apple’s institutional values — as embodied by his hand-picked executive team — would survive his passing,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt writes for Fortune. “The team lost a key member when Ron Johnson, who built the Apple Stores, departed in November run J.C. Penney. Because Johnson made his decision to leave public nine months before Jobs died, that didn’t seem to count.”

P.E.D. writes, “But when Apple announced in a news release Thursday night that senior vice president for hardware engineering Bob Mansfield was retiring, the tech press took notice… Apple’s press release doesn’t provide Mansfield’s age, but he looks pretty young for a retiree. We’ve seen no evidence that he was forced out. Perhaps the burden of supervising so many important products finally took their toll.”

“Mansfield can certainly afford to retire,” P.E.D. writes. “Between August 2008 and March 2012, according to MarketWatch’s insider trading log, he sold Apple shares worth nearly $98 million (some of them to pay taxes). According to his latest SEC filing, he still holds 120,000 shares worth, as of Thursday’s close, another $68 million. Other members of Apple’s executive team are just as rich — if not richer. That’s one of the downsides of rewarding employees of a successful company with stock options. Keeping those multimillionaires — and their institutional memory — around will be one of Tim Cook’s great challenges.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As Steve Jobs said:

Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.

I was worth over $1,000,000 when I was 23, and over $10,000,000 when I was 24, and over $100,000,000 when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.

Now — and we’re not talking about Mansfield or Johnson here — if your goal is to get rich and cash out, Apple doesn’t want you. It’s not a “great challenge” for Tim Cook, it’s self-selected winnowing. Cook just needs to make sure the wheat is ready as the chaff blows away.

Related articles:
Bob Mansfield, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, to retire; Dan Riccio to take over – June 28, 2012
Apple’s retail store chief Johnson off to J.C. Penney; expected to become CEO within months – June 14, 2011


  1. Steve Jobs was such an amazing man, I am 12 and have used apple computers since I was 2. My dad is a developer and has been since 1980s and his first mac was an apple2e. When I had first heard that steve died me and my father broke into tears cause he meant so much to the world.

        1. I think part of the problem with most forums these days is people don’t have to use their real names. The end result more often than not is wildly skewed rhetoric that no one has to own up to cheapening the dialog.

          Keep up the honest posting Eytan!

    1. 🙂

      We live in a world that doesn’t value exceptional people as much as it should. More and more we are told the collective is more important than the individual, that everyone is more important than just you, for no other reason than that they are, well, *everyone.*

      I believe Steve was an example of what a special person is like, and why we must always try to make sure such people are not stifled by society’s desires. We need to encourage them, incentivise their behavior, and nurture their talents, because they don’t come along that often. They become leaders, but more than that, they attract other extraordinary people. I worry that the extraordinary people who were once attracted to Mr. Jobs may start drifting away. I suspect that when they do, they won’t necessarily do as well because the inspiration that pushed them isn’t there.

      I can’t think of any other very special person living right now. I can think of many very noisy people but they are all still mediocre, so I agree with you. Steve was pretty important to the world. Let’s hope we get another in our lifetimes.

      1. Just because you want an individual to succeed does not mean you should give them everything in the world. Especially if they don’t deserve it. That is the way your system works give the people that were given an education, given the money, given the exceptions, more money when they do not need it. If I had a billion dollars I would be set for life. Everyone would be everyone would be for 2 million dollars without a hassle. The thing that set Steve Jobs apart from everyone else in society is he wasn’t greedy, he didn’t need that incentive. Someone that wants to change the world never needs that incentive. No normal human being needs 40 billion dollars. These are the people in today’s society that get everything handed to them. Tax cuts, education, loopholes, the ability to throw the economy into a garberator. These people driven by greed should be given nothing. Like I said people that want to better society don’t need incentive people that are greedy will do anything to get money. Copy Apple, make shit mortgages. Anything. The banks are the ones that are continuing to ruin our economies and we are letting them. It’s like your family owns a care and they are lending off parts that people will not be able to give back. Soon enough the car will not be able to run. One bolt at a time they will destroy that car and that is what the banks are doing for our economy. I’m not saying every single one of them are evil. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be able to make money. I know you conservatives hate this but until you stop letting them lend these parts nothing will get fixed. Until you stop looking at the money nothing will get fixed. Until you get money out of politics NOTHING will get fixed. The point is sometimes you need restrictions even if you don’t like them. It’s like playing a game and being able to cheat.

        1. Did I miss something? How does this translate to “Give Them Everything They Want?”

          “We need to encourage them, incentivise their behavior, and nurture their talents, because they don’t come along that often.”

          And @Nerd Beautiful, It would be terribly difficult to be impressed by you.

          In fact, it’s all about reinforcing their natural tendencies and getting the hell out of the way.

            1. Completely mindless and idiotic statement. The entire economy is driven by companies that are “incentivized” to produce a profit. Without companies making a profit there is no economy and there is no funding to run any government on either.

  2. Apple has a great lineup of junior executives who have spent many years learning the ropes. You have to arrange for those trained people because accidents & exits happen

  3. Don’t forget Bertrand Serlet’s departure when Jobs was very sick. I trace the decline of Mac OS X to his departure. Lion is a very weak release and Mountain Lion will maintain that weak tradition.

    They’ve bled all colors from the OS in a futile chase of that aluminum look which borders on the insane.

    Apple is moving in directions that are not all good.

      1. What is weak about the direction of OS X? It is trying to merge with features from wildly popular iOS to allow Apple to present as unified a product front as possible, where it makes sense to do so. I thought the Mac App store made a lot of sense, and locking down the system to prevent trojans was another great idea. I would like Safari to run faster and more stable, it seems clumsy and bloated to me at this point, as is iTunes.

        But the core system runs well and I like a lot of what is being done. The basics have all been there for awhile, what more could they or should they be adding that they are not?

    1. I disagree strongly, I think Lion is one of the best releases in in the last several. We had to hold off till recently (I run a post house and we had a key application(s) in our pipeline that we needed to wait for, but that is very typical in post because of the lattice of software we typically string together in a production pipeline) Anyway….
      The new features are great, our workstations and iMac’s actually run cooler Love the new mail and fullscreen mode (though interestingly enough few of our “pro” fullscreen apps (ad hoc fullscreen) support the apple fullscreen mode, but I am sure that will change -and- they work fine alongside apple’s fullscreen mode (not one problem in mixing.
      All in all I would give Lion an A- ; not really earth shattering differences but slimmer (scroll bars), snappier, more efficient, painless upgrade (and we have many machines, with very ‘tweak network sharing/distributed pressing setup) and with a boatload of cool new features.
      If Mountain Lion is HALF as improved as Lion was, it will be worth double what apple is asking for it.

      1. Agreed. I just got done migrating a Mac Pro from SL to Lion and the differences are night and day. As you mention, the Mail update alone is worth making the move. I don’t know where all the Lion hate is coming from; it’s clearly a better OS.

      2. I just wish they wouldn’t continuous saddle us up with tweaks that make Mighty Mice perform erratically, tank window open time, and most of all, I don’t enjoy old windows opening upon me — at all (a new concept of work config is necessary to use this WHEN necessary).

        1. While we have mostly recent machines (iMac i7’s and MacPro’s -though we do have an old white 24″ in reception) and if anything the UI seems a little snappier overall and window resizing (particularly O/GL based graphic windows) is noticeably clearer and faster.

      3. While I think Lion overall is very solid, Preview has definitely been a step backwards. I have it freeze constantly, whether scanning or simply trying to open a PDF document. I use Preview quite a bit for my work, and it’s buggiest is really disappointing.

        1. Preview is now glacially slow with simple jpeg files compared to previous OS’s. Safari and Preview are my 2 biggest gripes about the modern Mac OS, both used to be faster. By a lot.

          That does not mean that I hate Lion, just means those 2 programs are not what they could be.

      4. I agree – Lion is fantastic, and Mtn Lion looks even better. I have a mograph company with a bunch of workstations all running lion – would never think of switching back. I guess it’s just natural for folks to read into a departure like this and try to find any little detail that supports the crack in the dike theory. I hope it’s not true, and quite frankly I don’t see it happening any time soon, if at all.

    2. I think BLN makes an interesting point regarding Serlet’s departure and the evolution of OSX, tho’ I am not convinced that it wouldn’t have happened anyway.

      Meanwhile, I think it is FAR TOO SOON to read anything into the departures of Johnson and Mansfield. Johnson left because he wanted a new retail challenge and the execution for this generation of Apple Stores was essentially over; it is hard to fault a guy for that.

      I think Mansfield may just be worn out. The guy has carried a very heavy burden for years, and since the iPhone 4 antenna issue, he has essentially been responsible for overseeing the engineering for all of Apple’s flagship products. The stress of a job like that is unimaginable. If the guy has decided his health and family need to come first. I suspect Steve Jobs would understand.

    3. You don’t get it… It’s all about getting rid of the UI as much as possible. Making it nearly invisible, so one can focus on content. An OS is not a video game.

      It’s the same mission Apple has been on to get rid of buttons, ports, keyboards, etc.

      You could probably find something that will suit your needs at Toys R Us or something. You should check it out.

    4. “Lion is a very weak release …”

      Sweet Lord, if that isn’t the understatement of the month.

      However, I’m not enterily sure whether OSX (most notably the Finder) is feeling like they don’t really give a shit anymore – because the lack of a focused mind to steer the ship, like Serlet obviously did, or if they’re simply ignoring to push the boundaries due to their newfound cash machine, iOS. I’m afraid the priorities have shifted. Every Apple’s dev knows that to win over the top execs, their stuff must first and foremost look cool in a Keynote. Now, how big are the chances that workflow issues will be shown in a keynote? Forget it. Face recognition for iPhoto? Cool! A new launch pad that slides in when you press a button? Bingo. Hurray for the weekend users, they won.

  4. MDN, I realize you have to come up with linkbait headlines to drive pageviews, but why are you lending any sort of credence to this “Apple brain drain” meme?

  5. When companies blow up like Apple has, defections are common. Combine the success with a regime change and it’s only natural. Some people were more tuned in to the previous leader’s vision, some are the targets of hungry, young, cash-rich companies and some just want to ride off into the sunset and enjoy their remaining years. One of the most important things Steve impressed upon his company was that time is fleeting.

    That said, the success of companies do not reside within individuals; it’s the product of teams. Mansfield will be missed, but if the Cook succession has taught us anything, it’s that Apple’s talent has a very deep bench.

  6. And I agree with MDN I don’t think Apple wants people in key possessions who are in it for the money. If you don’t love your job Apple really doesn’t want you to continue leading. (because if you don’t you are not at your best as a leader)
    I have to add, there are days when things just won’t work or we are under stressful deadlines, that are not entirely “fun”. But on the whole I do what I do primarily because I love to do it, not because I am getting paid.

  7. Any implication that Bob is leaving “for the money” is just more pissing in the wind by people who nothing about the man. Apple under Steve Jobs took succession planning quite seriously, so we shouldn’t be worried by this.

  8. Ron Johnson, who built the Apple Stores, departed in November run J.C. Penney

    Uh yeah. That’s not working out. The last quarter for J.C. Penney stores was crap on toast. I suspect he’s sorry he left.

    …senior vice president for hardware engineering Bob Mansfield was retiring

    I remember when Eastman Kodak ‘retired’ hundreds of employees in the 1990s quite deliberately in order to stop financial hemorrhaging. Now THAT was a brain drain! Kodak never recovered. It’s amazing how one guy retiring from Apple becomes a major tizzy for TechTard journalists. I think maybe they need something important to occupy their minds at the day job.

    BTW: I used to live next to a guy who ‘retired’ in his late 20s from software development. He made his millions, retired and focused on real life, as opposed to business games. BFD.

  9. it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.

    Then why did you feel compelled to screw Woz out of his fair share of profit so early on? Why?

    1. I don’t think you have to feel too sorry for Woz, orange. He is, or at least should be, a billionaire.

      But to respond to your comment, perhaps Jobs realized that it would be best for Apple if Woz wasn’t involved in an official capacity at the company, given Woz’s propensity for spontaneously making ill-considered comments…

  10. Having execs leave is a part of life within a highly successful company. Rob Johnson was given an opportunity to run a large company and turn around one of the great historical brands in U.S. history. Mansfield retired. It happens, and certainly doesn’t mean there’s some sort of mass exodus at Apple or that Apple is losing its key management.

    If you want to see execs leaving en mass, check out Microsoft and RIM over the past two years.

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