“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