Why the heck did Apple hire Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch?

“Just hours after word leaked that Apple had poached Adobe’s chief technology officer, the Internet is ablaze with the question of what, exactly, the iPhone maker plans to do with Kevin Lynch,” Daniel Eran Dilger writes for AppleInsider. “Lynch is particularly interesting as an executive choice for Apple because of his close association with Adobe Flash, a product he infamously clashed with Apple over, beginning in 2010.”

“Lynch staunchly defended Flash, accusing Apple of promoting a philosophy ‘counter’ to the web and one that would require developers to target multiple platforms, rather than writing to a common ‘run anywhere’ platform like Flash,” Dilger reports. “He touted the partnerships Adobe had lined up, stating at the time that ‘all the innovation coming from all those companies will dwarf what’s coming from the one company that isn’t participating.'”

Dilger reports, “Instead, Apple’s iOS juggernaut did the dwarfing, obliterating the market for Flash so rapidly that even Adobe’s close ally Google abandoned support for the middleware on Android just two years after promoting Flash Player as a major differentiating feature of its new devices… [Columnist John] Gruber has subsequently written a piece referring to Apple’s new VP of Technology as ‘a Bozo, a Bad Hire,’ citing Lynch’s comments in support of Flash while working for Adobe and tasked with marketing Flash.”

Read more in the full article here.

John Gruber writes for Daring Fireball, “I have a bad feeling about this.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Just when we retired “Browettize,” “Lynchize” threatens to take its place.

New hire Kevin Lynch once compared Apple to a 19th-century railroad
New hire Kevin Lynch once compared Apple to a 19th-century railroad

Related articles:
Apple hires Adobe technology chief Kevin Lynch as vice president – March 20, 2013
Adobe CTO tries defending the indefensible Flash pig – November 9, 2010
Adobe CTO likens Apple to 19th-century railroad – May 5, 2010

54 Comments

    1. Lynch has a good track record for Apple development prior to his time with Adobe. Macromedia were a great company before they were bought by Adobe and Lynch developed for Macs before he worked for Macromedia.

      Try to look at the time when he was acquired by Adobe as an unfortunate anomaly and look to what he will be able to do in the future for Apple. Don’t forget that with the notable exception of Flash, he did some good work for Adobe, especially with Cloud computing.

        1. I still keep an old TiBook specifically to run Freehand on now that Rosetta has been removed from modern Macs. There is no other way to access my old Freehand documents, but the equipment I designed using Freehand will still need to be supported for many years to come.

          Killing off support for legacy software is ridiculous when that software was used to design stuff with a lifespan of many years. Obviously I don’t create new documents with Freehand any more, but I still need to open old documents that were created many years ago.

          It’s just as bad with Filemaker. I have used Filemaker for almost as long as it has existed, but my old databases created in FMP3 or FMP5 cannot be opened in FMP12.

          1. QuirkDePressed was the absolute worst…a “design” program created by beancounters, while FreeHand was like it was designed by artists; no numerical locations, simply space for composition. Very intuitive and unobtrusive, haven’t seen anything that could remotely approach it since.

      1. Macromedia a great company??? What are you talking about?
        Aldus created Freehand (licensed to them by Altsys). When Aldus and Adobe merged, the FTC ordered Freehand to be returned to Altsys, which Macromedia later bought.
        Macromedia was the clueless company that created Director, a prestage of Flash. They also convinced Apple – especially the moron Guy Kawasaki – that other, much more powerful technologies were in fact only lies and tricks and so dwarfed the animation capabilities that could have been utilised in the early 90’s Macs.

        Kawasaki went on to also push Apple onto the wrong database track.

        Apple didn’t only make bad hardware choices during those days. They partnered with the dumbest and worst, when far superior, groundbreaking applications were offered them.

    2. Perhaps Kevin Lynch had to parrot the Adobe company line on Flash?

      I have not researched Lynch’s credentials, but I am unwilling to blindly jump on the bandwagon asserting that hiring Lynch was a mistake based upon this single issue.

      I am confident that Cook learned a hiring lesson after being burned by Browett. I suspect that Lynch was much more thoroughly vetted, including considerations of his compatibility with the Apple corporate culture.

      1. Agreed…you could also surmise that he’s leaving because of having to toe the company line for a lost cause ie there is no way to second guess the internal wranglings that led to his move to Apple.
        He is also a very smart guy. He turned up at an Apple sponsored (strangly?) event in London when they released Lightroom along with Martin Evening which was Mac only at that time. Both were excellent speakers and both hung around at the bar afterwards for a general chinwag. He also seemed very affable and approachable so I can’t dismiss this as a totally bad thing.

      2. The Flash thing was no small deal in that he did not just defend Flash but he repeatedly and publicly attacked Apple. It is unreasonable to expect fans of Apple to merely look the other way and pretend that did not happen.

        Also there is zero evidence that Cook has learned one single thing from hiring the retail bozo. Not one high profile hire has occurred on Cooks watch that has been a good fit or benefitted Apple. Also not one single VP spot has been filled by internal talent that existed before Cook came in board. Every current VP was already one when Cook became CEO.

        I would love to see that Cook is capable of hiring talent but I have seen strong evidence to the contrary and no evidence to support that claim.

  1. These hires by Cook (Papermaster, Browett and now Lynch) really are starting to make me nervous about his judgment. The first two were utter failures, let’s hope he doesn’t get the hat trick with this one.

          1. @Mike

            I’ll take a stab at that. I have been doing Java programming for over 15 years and Flash for more than 5. I can tell you first hand that the quality of Flash has been going downhill with each new release. On top of Flash they have a framework call Flex which was pretty good at version 2, and even better by version 3. Then the company started outsourcing with a vengeance and then came up with version 4 and it was a joke! I don’t know if there is a cause and effect relationship, but Version 4 seems like it was great idea written by a hoard of Jr. Programmers.

            I also will note that there have been ongoing problems with the whole Flex development toolkit (and flash) that are NEVER fixed release after release. It was starting to become embarrassing.

            Constantly I’d wonder; their programmers must be using this crap too, right? They obviously see the problems we all see, yet they seem to have no ability to fix them.

            Steve Jobs was right. Under the current conditions of Adobe, Flash could never be fixed. The company has become filled with duds and wannabe programmers.

            Surely you must be seeing Flash crash all over the internet with some stupid dialog box that pops up something like “cancel/continue” when you least expect it.

            In the past 3 years nothing they have done with Flash has been a success even in their PC/Mac browser development environments where nobody is blocking them!

            If their programmers aren’t good enough to get flash working correctly on a computer, how could they ever be trusted to expand into new territories like the iPhone and iPad and be able to get that to work right? The answer is: They can’t!

            Adobe has become a useless company that will slowly die. All the good programmers are gone and replaced by cheap low skilled labor.

            I can say in particular, that while Kevin was at Adobe, I read many of his blogs and he surely seemed to know what he was talking about. I also think that if he had some programmers who could do something, maybe things would have been different. I surely don’t think Flash failed because of him, it failed because of Adobe’s race to the bottom.

            Maybe if so much of Adobe’s development wasn’t outsourced for cheap labor maybe Steve Jobs would have thought there was hope for Flash and maybe he would have thought it was a product worth supporting. Steve must of known what was going on at Adobe. The companies are neighbors, and rumors spread! He must of known.

            Have you even seen Flash run on Android? Jeez, what a joke! …brought to you by the programmers at Adobe!

            The blame is with Adobe in my book. The sooner they die the better, and in 5 years they will be gone. All their other products will also fail for all the same reasons. When was the last time Adobe released anything innovative? Everything is just some stupid point release upgrade with a few new useless features. It’s because their programmers can’t do anything else! The industry will pass them by.

            Kevin Lynch was a great steal for Apple. I am sure with his brain working at a real company that will hire good people for good money, he will be able to accomplish great things. I think he deserves better than the Joke of a company that Adobe has become!

            1. Time to give up on Autodesk. Mark my words, it will not get better. All the good people are gone. Autodesk can only get bigger and more bloated. The company is filled with “copy-and-paste” programmers and there is no way to reverse the trend.

              When your incompetents start to fill the senior positions and are the ones who start doing the hiring, how can you fix it? Once the culture of innovation gets broken down, you can’t get it back. I’ve seen it over and over again in lots of companies. I’ve never seen a company return to innovation once they started outsourcing. It’s a one-way ticket.

              Eventually the really good people they used to have will re-appear in other companies and compete with them and will take them down. Kevin Lynch is just ONE example. It is happening all over the industry. Kevin is a great choice and will add a lot to Apple. He is where he should be, at Apple, not Adobe.

              Start looking for your Autodesk replacement. Adobe’s great run of innovation is over. Nothing more is coming, and Steve Jobs knew it.

      1. Yep, and Sculley was recruited by Jobs as well. That was, however, at a young age.

        Look at how much better Jobs got at recruiting over the years: Sculley from Pepsi to Cook from Compaq.

        “A-players hire A-players; B-players hire C-players.”
        –Steve Jobs

        Like it or not, Cook is an A-player, or Steve Jobs wasn’t either.

        1. You obviously know nothing about Kevin Lynch. As a programmer I have read a lot of what he wrote over the years and I think he’s brilliant. It is the fools at Adobe that outsourced everything that ruined everything not Kevin. I am very excited and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Something exciting will come from such a world class developer. It is not Apple who is in trouble, it’s Adobe!

    1. At a massive discount, it could be cool. If only to see Apple squash the name, finally, and improve it’s commitment to pro software. However, it seem to make more sense to have Adobe as an independent developer for the Mac filling out the eco system.

      1. It is even better if Adobe goes away completely. They are like Microsoft holding the industry back and producing nothing. Do you use their products? Have they done ANYTHING well over the last few years? Have their upgrades been worth it? No? I didn’t think so.

  2. Kevin is a smart guy. I think this is a good hire. An imaginative one.

    Kevin’s history is far more interesting than just what he did at Adobe.

    Just wait and see.

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