Jony Ive's successor leaving Apple, AirBnB's top designer coming back

From Mark Gurman's "Apple’s Industrial Design Chief Hankey to Leave Three Years After Ive" posted Friday on the Bloomberg:

Apple's head of hardware design, Evans Hankey, is leaving the iPhone maker three years after taking the job, creating a significant hole at the top of a company famous for its slick-looking products, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Hankey was named to the post in 2019 to replace Jony Ive, the company’s iconic design chief for two decades. Before taking her current role as vice president of industrial design, Hankey spent several years at Apple reporting to Ive. Since then, she has reported to Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams...

Her pending exit marks the first time that Apple will be without a de facto design chief since co-founder Steve Jobs retook control of the company in the late 1990s and appointed Ive to the job. Richard Howarth, a key designer on both Ive’s and Hankey’s teams, briefly held the role of head of industrial design, reporting to Ive, between 2015 and 2017...

Alan Dye, Apple’s head of design for software and user interfaces, isn’t going anywhere and still reports to Williams, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Dye was also promoted in 2019 upon Ive’s departure. Gary Butcher, a former top designer within Dye’s division and currently Airbnb Inc.’s vice president of design, is returning to Apple, they added.

My take: There's more to this story, I'm sure. But succeeding Ive wasn't going to be easy for anyone.

4 Comments

  1. Gregg Thurman said:
    NOBODY is bigger than the organization, especially when that organization is Apple.

    While one (successor or predecessor) may be better than the other the organization is better than either. Apple thrived with Ives design leadership, a leadership that was growing stale when he stepped down. Under Hankey’s leadership Apple thrived. Under Hankey’s leadership Apple will continue to thrive.

    This kind of “controversy” is a manufactured one by the media, and is the result of a manufactured “cult of personality” the media so loves. Of more than 5,000 public firms you see this no where except at Apple.

    The reason is quite simple. No other firm garners eyeballs than does Apple, and if there is anything the media requires more than anything is the oxygen those eyeballs create.

    Hanley leaving Apple is no more controversial than any C Suite executive from any other firm, leaving theirs.

    7
    October 22, 2022
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      Under Hankey’s leadership

      Should read “Under Hankey’s successor’s leadership…

      2
      October 22, 2022
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    Ms. Evans Hankey leaves Apple without fanfare. Ask ten Apple aficionados before Ms. Hankey’s departure who headed up Industrial Design and you would be fortunate to find “one” who could name the head of the ID Unit. Not so with other Apple organizational units.

    Apple doesn’t say what Ms. Hankey will be doing once gone. Most resignation announcements do infer what the resigning individual plans to do going forward, even if it is to stay home and devote more time to family.

    The position as Head of Industrial Design in Apple has been emasculated in the organizational chain of command. I suspect its influence also diminished when it comes to final decision making.

    The once esteemed ID team assembled by Jony Ive and given disproportionate respect, deference and special treatment internally must be shell-shock from days gone by when Jony Ive had limos delivered to staffs staying at hotels and their getting all the other amenities thrown their way. Then again, many of the original team as Ms. Hankey have deserted, or continue to depart.

    Jony reported to the CEO. That direct line of organizational reporting collapsed to reporting to Jeff Williams. I suspect Ms. Hankey was as far removed from Tim Cook as I am removed in sharing my ideas, opinions and advisement relative to design. (I did write an email to Tim Cook this past Thursday on Apple Watch band colors).

    I would be less than candid if I said what has happened to the ID unit is not disturbing to me. Design is as embedded in Apple’s DNA as music is embedded in the organization’s culture.

    The déclassé of the ID unit’s influence and its reduced role in deciding the physical appearance, functionality and manufacture of products and devices can’t help but have a deleterious influence in Apple’s design influence standing going forward.

    I do not believe Tim Cook set out to vitiate the ID’s unit impact per se. Through his lack of design interest, his benign neglect of the unit and purposeful restructuring organizationally of the Unit head’s direct line-of-reporting to the CEO all is approaching in the next few years what I am sensing as a danger zone in Apple losing its design leadership role for which the company is noted and has obtained under Jobs and Ives. It troubles me and I am monitoring it closely.

    3
    October 22, 2022
  3. Rodney Avilla said:
    “ The déclassé of the ID unit’s influence and its reduced role in deciding the physical appearance, functionality and manufacture of products and devices can’t help but have a deleterious influence in Apple’s design influence standing going forward.”

    This statement is out of date. It may have been true when Ive left and the Ive’s replacement VP of design lost some power and authority. But with Evens leaving, there is no indication that the new VP will have less influence than Evans, going forward. Therefore no deterioration of the influence for the new replacement.

    8
    October 22, 2022

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