updated 06:30 pm EST, Sun February 27, 2011
Jonathan Ive rumored to cash out in UK move
A rumor [sub. required] on Sunday from the Times of London has purported that Apple lead designer Jonathan Ive was considering a move to the UK that may force him to exit Apple. The well-known product sculptor was said eager to educate his children in his home country and would exercise his stock options to help make the move. Having received stock options in 2008 at about $100 per share, he would convert them to the equivalent of $30 million, the newspaper claimed.
The same 2008 deal is believed to have increasingly been a point of conflict for Ive and Apple. Although common for executive compensation, the share option deal was likened to a form of "golden handcuffs" that kept Ive tied to Apple's US headquarters to get his full benefits. The two parties have been at "loggerheads" trying to negotiate a deal, the rumor sources asserted.
Ive is believed to still be willing to stay with Apple and even to have offered to work remotely, but Apple supposedly considers his local presence important enough that it told him in "no uncertain terms" that he would lose his job if he moved.
Apple dismissed the story as "speculation."
The story has been called into question given Ive's importance to Apple. The designer has been at Apple since 1992 and was virtually hand-picked by CEO Steve Jobs upon his return to Apple to revitalize the company's at the time generic computer hardware. His design for the original iMac is widely credited for saving Apple, and he also helped shape the iPod, iBook, iPad and all Macs since. Losing Ive might force Apple to change its design aesthetic and could affect its clout in computers.