Mark Gurman: Heavy turnover at Apple’s Project Titan

From Gurman’s “Apple loses at least its sixth car executive this year” posted Sunday to Bloomberg Technology’s Power On subscribers:

Six. That’s the number of top managers who have left Apple’s car project this year. Who do I consider a top manager? The person who runs the project and anyone directly reporting to that person. Doug Field, who ran the Apple car team since 2018, bolted in September. Earlier this year, Dave Scott, Jaime Waydo, Dave Rosenthal and Benjamin Lyon all left as well.

Now we have the departure of Michael Schwekutsch, who led hardware efforts at Apple for the car project. His exit comes just weeks after I reported that Apple is accelerating development of its car and is aiming to showcase a fully autonomous vehicle as early as 2025.

When Kevin Lynch, the Apple Watch software chief, took over the car project, there was a clear hole in terms of hardware leadership. Schwekutsch was supposed to fill that gap. Now that he’s out, the company may need to bring in a replacement from the car industry if it wants to achieve its goals.

My take: Good news? Bad news? Can’t tell from this whether they were fleeing Lynch or axed by Lynch or something in between.

21 Comments

  1. Dan Scropos said:
    I’ve long thought that veteran auto executives would have a difficult time with whatever paradigm shift Apple plans on pursuing, so the amount of turnover comes as no surprise. Also, I don’t believe we truly know who the “top manager(s)”, really is.

    There’s probably been some incredible culture clashes, as Apple has a culture unlike everyone else. This project requires patience, detail and even a willingness to concede that at some point it may not come to fruition at all … or that a different direction is needed. That’s something no other company would do, at least on this grand of a scale, and I suspect that’s very difficult for some “top” folks to digest.

    10
    December 5, 2021
    • Kirk DeBernardi said:
      Dan S. —

      Thanks for typing exactly what I would have typed.

      2
      December 5, 2021
  2. Tommo_UK said:
    Apple will do what it does when it’s ready and there’s a clear trend and need between the intersection of what’s desirable, technologically possible, and with a visible enough forward trajectory to choose a final concept for whatever niche it intends to enter from which to form a bridge to go mainstream – if it does.

    Meanwhile this is all speculation and hopium designed to sell crack to traders and then feed off their losses.

    The car will come when there’s enough global infrastructure to make the use case viable. Not everyone lives in urban America. Ergo, no cars for years, but perhaps more glimpses of the technology Apple might use in one appearing in other products.

    I’m ignoring AppleCar blather for now as much as I am AR headsets. The fundamental case is so strong without them, that including these in share price speculation is just Wild West.

    7
    December 5, 2021
  3. Fred Stein said:
    $10’s ob $B’s is flowing into next gen automotive incumbents, startups, and all in between. They all compete for talent.

    These departures may another validation of the Apple brand. Who wouldn’t want to hire an Apple employee, whether retail floor or top brass?

    3
    December 5, 2021
    • Hugh Lovell said:
      When I worked in Apple Retail is was often said that a second-level manager in an Apple store could easily move to a top manager position in another “big box” store. I saw it happen, more than once.

      2
      December 5, 2021
  4. Jerry Doyle said:
    I don’t know what to think lately about Mark Gurman’s reporting. This news is like hearing that one of Alabama’s first string football players transferred. With the Alabama’s football program’s depth such a transfer means nothing. The Crimson Tide “rolls on!” The Apple organization and its Apple Car program is little different. Geaux 

    4
    December 5, 2021
    • Robert Paul Leitao said:
      Jerry: I’m confused. You used the term “Geaux” in your comment but made a reference to the Crimson Tide (in your post it was part of an exhortation for Apple). In my experience, the term “Geaux” is usually deployed as a reference to LSU and as part of the phrase “Geaux Tigers.” Do you have a favorite college football team or do you just like the term?

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      December 5, 2021
      • Jerry Doyle said:
        @Robert Paul Leitao: “…. In my experience, the term “Geaux” is usually deployed as a reference to LSU and as part of the phrase “Geaux Tigers.” Do you have a favorite college football team or do you just like the term?”

        You are correct to denote the term Geaux deployed as a reference to LSU’s Tigers. Geaux is Louisiana slang for “go.” Louisiana has French in its slang derived from the wonderful Cajun peoples who left Canada in 1755 migrating to South Louisiana where they were welcomed with open arms and embraced to this day. (BTW, the little boy in the picture with me is a Creole Cajun, descendant of French and Spanish ancestry living on a house boat in the Atchafalaya Basin.)

        Most Louisiana teams use Geaux to emphasize their Louisiana Cajun heritage. By spelling it as “Geaux,” Cajuns make it clear that this word is to honor their French heritage. The most common time you hear the word is at sports events. So, one normally would not hear Geaux applied to sport teams outside Louisiana, although I applied it to the Crimson Tide.

        The LSU Tigers are my premier college sports team. Alabama’s Crimson Tide is next. After those two schools I pull for any college team in the West or East Division of the SEC.

        I suspect that I am the only individual globally (other than one other person on this forum) who uses Geaux . I do make a concerted effort, as appropriate, to use Geaux  when cheering on Apple.

        1
        December 6, 2021
        • Robert Paul Leitao said:
          @ Jerry Thank you. I’m at least casually familiar with Cajun history as well as distantly related to many of the migrants from Canada to Louisiana. My mother spoke French before she spoke English. A direct ancestor was among the small number of men who left France and arrived in “New France” in 1608 and began the early settlement of what’s now Quebec City. Due to the very small number of early settlers combined with the very high birth rates, many of the French Canadians that migrated to Louisiana nearly 150 years later would have at least one and probably more than one ancestor in common with me.

          1
          December 6, 2021
  5. Robert Paul Leitao said:
    My gosh! Apple is obviously working on a transportation solution. The company is NOT creating an automotive soap opera for release through Apple TV+. Enough of Mark Gurman and his “coverage” of Apple’s “car project” already. I have better things to do with my time than read these “stories.” I would hope Mr. Gurman could find better uses for his skills.

    3
    December 5, 2021
  6. Michael Goldfeder said:
    @ Jerry: Great analogy!

    It also reminds me of how Apple was going to fall apart at the seams after Jony Ive departed. Another example of how well Apple is prepared to move forward as a company regardless of who departs.

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    December 5, 2021
    • Robert Paul Leitao said:
      Michael and Jerry: I don’t know about that Crimson Tide analogy. Not to take anything away from Nick Saban and the coaching staff at Alabama, but Tim Cook’s a product of Auburn and I understand he’s a huge Auburn Tigers fan. That makes Auburn the SEC champ in the metrics that matter. Michael, I know you are a big Penn State fan. When it comes to pouncing on the competition, Tim Cook is a real “Nittany Lion” and has enabled a lot of Apple 3.0 readers to live in their own version of Happy Valley. Alabama’s football team is good, but its bench depth is no match for the bench depth of Apple – led by an Auburn grad. Just sayin’.

      0
      December 5, 2021
      • Michael Goldfeder said:
        @Robert: I agree 100% with everything you posted. However, I will add a note that both Nick, Tim, Jerry, you, and I will all agree on:

        “SEC, SEC, SEC!”

        And this isn’t a chant for the “Securities Enforcement Commission” heard at every stadium in the south from September to November every year during college football season!

        1
        December 5, 2021
        • Robert Paul Leitao said:
          @Michael: I miss watching Saturday football with all the history, pageantry and rivalries. I’ll leave it with a term borrowed from Jerry: “Geaux” college football!

          0
          December 5, 2021
        • Jerry Doyle said:
          @Michael Goldfeder: “SEC, SEC, SEC!”

          Wow! For a Penn State Nittany Lion fan you sure have a high level of empathy for what SEC means to college football fans in the South Central and Southeastern United States. 🙂

          0
          December 6, 2021
          • Michael Goldfeder said:
            @Jerry: Just a big college football fan and have very close friends in Alabama who I visit often during college football season and have been to games in several SEC stadiums including “Death Valley” and Bryant Denny.

            The tradition and atmosphere in those stadiums is indescribable and can only be conveyed by actually going to a game. Did you every get a chance to see the “Grove” at Ole Miss? Descriptions defy that tradition as it was something that can only be experienced by seeing it first hand.

            0
            December 6, 2021
  7. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    “Good news? Bad news? Can’t tell…”

    Let’s stop right there…lest you become a talking head.

    (What was that John Gruber continuing complaint about Bloomberg? Hmmm. Let me think…)

    0
    December 5, 2021
  8. Daniel Epstein said:
    Bloomberg and Gurman have to crank out news articles and Apple is a good topic to get attention for them from their audience. Whether they have any special insight, knowledge and sources or not. What can I write about today? Apple this or Apple that. The farther in the future the product release the less pressure is on to get it correct as no one will really care if they were accurate in their reporting. Got to feed the beast.

    0
    December 5, 2021
  9. Bill Haymaker said:
    If we’re going to talk about poaching talent then I’d love to see Apple go get Derek Jenkins. I’ve always loved driving my Miata’s but never loved looking at them until Derek’s makeover in 2016. His prototype Microbus for VW was also gorgeous as is his new creation for Lucid. His design aesthetic and attention to detail fits Apple to a T.

    0
    December 6, 2021

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