Apple could be facing a more devastating blow than the possible loss of CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs, currently on medical leave and believed to be undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.UK reports say Jonathan Ive – the English design genius behind such icons as generations of the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad – may sell his considerable holdings of Apple shares, quit the company and retire to England, where he want his children to go to school.
A Sunday Times report said Ive is “at loggerheads” with the Apple board about the amount of time he already spends in the UK.
According to the Sunday Times, the board had told Ive “in no uncertain terms that if he headed back to England he would not be able to sustain his position with them.”
Ive received a three-year options grant in 2008 now worth $30 million – and now exercisable. If he sells that stock, his combined net worth would be $128 million, according to the reports.
Many observers believe Ive is at least as important to Apple’s success as Jobs, and possibly more so. The company appears prepared for the possible loss of Jobs, with COO Tim Cook effectively running operations, but Ive would be much harder to replace.