Jony Ive’s ‘promotion’ driven by money and fear of SEC disclosure?

“The consensus view this morning about Apple’s ‘promotion’ of Jony Ive to Chief Design Officer is that this is telegraphing a departure by the executive at some point in the future (whether 1 or 5 years from now),” Eric Jackson writes for Forbes.

“Many are concluding from all this that Jony Ive is tired of Apple, wants to go back to England to spend more time with the family and this announcement ‘telegraphs’ his eventual departure from the company,” Jackson writes. “I interpret the move in a completely different and more cynical way. I believe yesterday’s announcement was done entirely to continue to shield Jony Ive’s compensation from disclosure to the SEC and therefore from the public.”

“Apple has hid Ive’s comp from public view since 2009. One could argue they shouldn’t have. Before yesterday’s news, Ive was last promoted into an SVP of Design position two years ago – a relatively short time before a new job change might be expected,” Jackson writes. “That promotion 2 years ago, and the recognition of Ive’s prominent position on Apple’s website among the Management Team, more prominently put Apple in an untenable position to argue with the SEC that Ive’s compensation shouldn’t be disclosed. Yesterday’s announcement resolves that and puts them in a much stronger position to argue they need to continue to guard his compensation.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Even if Jony Ive is the highest paid Apple employee (highly likely), why shield his compensation? It’s not like we don’t expect him to be very highly paid. After all, we know Angela Ahrendts got some $83 million to leave the Burberry CEO-ship for Apple. Who, exactly, would be shocked to hear that Jony’s racking up hundreds of millions?

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arline M.” for the heads up.]


  1. The public disclosure of executive pay is the chief reason why the CEO reward packages have skyrocketed in the past 15 years, far beyond any real reason. Every company, regardless of its success in their market place, engages in this race and it seems unstoppable.

    When a board of directors of a company discusses the level of annual salary for their CEO and other high-level “C_O” executives, they look at the reward packages of competitors. They determine the average and in virtually all cases, decide to reward their own at a premium over that average (somewhere between 25 – 50% higher). This is how the board tells themselves, their CEO and the world that their company’s CEO is better than majority other CEOs in their market space. After all, who in their sane mind would purposely give their own CEO lowest salary? What does it say about their confidence in their CEO?

    This game of one-upmanship makes CEO packages grow significantly faster than the revenues, so the money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is the lower-level pay and other expenses. In other words, in order to make sure their CEO is better paid than competitors (and therefore better motivated to do a good job), companies must figure out where to cut corners. What’s worst is that these reward packages usually have no correlation with actual success of companies; even very poor corporate performance is often well rewarded in the CEO package, reflecting misguided belief (of boards of directors) that having a highly paid CEO will somehow help turn the company around.

    Exposing Jony Ive’s reward package would likely stimulate this one-upmanship in the Silicon Valley even further.

  2. Maybe it’s just exactly what he said in the interview: the promotion frees him of the administrative minutia and allows him to focus on being creative. Why can’t the press just leave it at that? Sometimes the truth is just the truth, nothing between the lines.

    1. It rarely is the truth. When Ballmer left Microsoft, he did so in order to “spend more time with his family” and “pursue other interests”; the real reason was because of his abysmal performance. Such examples are too numerous to bring up here, but couple that with the natural instinct of journalists to NEVER believe/regurgitate the official line (and always dig for the real truth between the lines), and you can’t really blame the press for trying to read between the lines here as well, even when there’s nothing to read.

        1. Doing well had little or nothing to do with Uncle Fester. They made tons of money because they continued to ride on Bill’s first clever or lucky decision – to LICENSE the OS. Following that, Microscum’s history contains an enormous percentage of stupid and/or short-sighted decisions. Except for the lock on the IBM compatible PC OS, they’d have disappeared long ago.

          1. Besides, shareholders care only for the value of their stocks, and Ballmer did poorly there. When he was annoited as the CEO, MSFT was over $50, and it went downhill from there; it has yet to achieve such heights. The closest it came was some $37 (sometime in 2007, just before the collapse of the markets). Satya Nadella seems to be doing much better for the stock, pushing it close to the highs never achieved under Ballmer.

            1. Companies generally colapse and fail precisely because no one is ready to recognise the problems, or impending implosive while the money keeps rolling in. Cart makers were probably earning at their peak well beyond the point their business was actually doomed, only a visionary moves before that point and Ballmer ain’t no visionary.

        1. That would be really silly, comparing Ive to Ballmer.

          I think the Ballmer example was only used to an extent that press expects some bogus official line along the lines of “spend more time with family”, and even when they don’t get it, they still think the official line is bogus and try to dig up something else. There is no actual comparison to Ballmer here.

          1. But Ive never said even “along the lines” stuff. This is not about family as he will have to travel much more than now, and spend less time with his family, not more. So this family thing is neither official bogus excuse (never used in relation to Ive), nor real reason.

            1. Nobody said that. Ive’s “excuse” wasn’t the family; it was “to have more time to focus on the big picture”. The point is, while MS can say for Ballmer “to spend time with family”, and Apple for Ive “to focus on the big picture”, journalists won’t buy either of them and will dig for more.

              As for Ive spending time with the family, this is actually quite the opposite; with his new position, he’ll have more time to spend with them in the UK, now that he doesn’t have to deal with day-to-day matters.

            2. No change with family since Ive has mansions in several countries, including USA and UKGBNI. Family lives in any of those places. Besides, Ive will have travel more, so in the end in any of those places he will see his family less, not more.

            3. Actually, this is a significant change for the family. Especially once the twins are back in England full-time (for school), this new position will allow him to spend much more time in the UK (and with the kids). Don’t forget, his new responsibilities will be “working with Foster+Partners on the Spaceship Campus” (and their offices are in London), as well as checking out some of the retail stores…

              While this wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the announcement, it is clear that the new position will untie Jony from Cupertino and allow him to spend more time in England.

            4. As Telegraph articles explained, Ive already works with Foster, not moving to UK at all. There is no information that he ever wanted to be more in UK in the first place (there was only a rumour from few years back that was never confirmed in any way). Besides, Forster has dozens of staff in USA, so there is no need to go to UK at all. And since the Spaceship is being built in USA, there is not sense to go to UK even more so. Ive has to deal with interiors and actually see how things he designed gets done.

            5. Well, we both seem to be engaging here in inferrence — reading between the lines, guessing and assuming, based on little information that’s out there.

              With respect to Ive wanting to be in the UK, there seems to be information supporting that assertion if you know where to look. It is rather well documented that he wants his children to be educated in the UK, and not in California. That makes it obvious that he would eventually want to move back (i.e. leave Apple). For that reason, Apple will want to make it attractive to him to stay, so they will offer a way for him to spend more time in the UK.

    2. Because in the age of gossip and innuendo the press is nothing but gossip and innuendo. Did you really expect knowlege, intelligence, inderstanding, research and due dilligence as qualifying credentials from today’s (yellow) journalist wannbees?!!

    1. Stockholders care. Which is why these regulations exist. Without openness on financial details they don’t know what they are investing in. Pretty basic requirement for a workable and stable financial system.

  3. Jony Ive is a very private man and he probably doesn’t like the fact that his compensation is disclosed to the public. Honestly, I could care less about how much he is being paid and I don’t understand why there are some people that think that they should have the right to know. WHO CARES how much money he is making. What’s most important is how APPLE is doing and as of right now, they are doing just fine.

  4. Can’t deny when I first read about this earlier I thought this was things being set up for the post Ive era. We shall see but this starts to sound like an honary position where he can slowly disentangle from his direct Company responsibilities. We shall see but he oukdntprobably earn a fortune doing his own thing in almost any design area and anywhere in the World.

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