Apple CEO Tim Cook says report calling Jony Ive’s departure contentious is absurd

Apple CEO Tim Cook called a Wall Street Journal report about superstar designer Jony Ive’s supposedly contentious departure and Cook’s own alleged lack of interest in design “absurd” in an email Monday.

Ive announced his departure from Apple on Thursday. The designer oversaw the creation of many of Apple’s most iconic products, including the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. The Wall Street Journal report claimed Ive was “dispirted” by Cook’s apparent lack of interest in the product development process and that Ive had a diminishing role in Apple’s design for years. The report went on to say that Ive stopped overseeing routine management of the design team, weakening it and causing designers to leave the company.

In an email to NBC News reporter Dylan Byers, Cook called the story “absurd” and said that its conclusions didn’t “match with reality.” He added that the story “shows a lack of understanding about how the design team works and how Apple works.”

“The design team is phenomenally talented,” Cook wrote. “As Jony has said, they’re stronger than ever, and I have complete confidence they will thrive under Jeff, Evans and Alan’s leadership,” he wrote, referring to Apple COO Jeff Williams and design team leads Evans Hankey and Alan Dye. “We know the truth and we know the incredible things they’re capable of doing. The projects they’re working on will blow you away.”

A Wall Street Journal spokesperson told Byers that it stands by the report. We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and will update this story if we hear back.

Ive plans to start a new design firm called LoveFrom — Apple will be its first client. The WSJ report claimed that Apple will pay LoveFrom “millions of dollars a year to continue to work with Apple.”

The report claims that Ive felt Cook shifted the focus of Apple from design to operations, “eroding the product magic” created by Ive and the late Steve Jobs. Cook himself comes from the operations side of the business, having previously worked on the supply chain that helps send Apple’s products across the globe.

The story must have rattled the team at Apple. It’s rare for Cook, one of the most powerful executives in tech, to email a reporter on his own. He did, however, send the email from his iPhone, according to a screenshot.

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