Bob Mansfield, one of Apple top executives, has been dropped from the company's leadership team and will instead work on special projects, according to online reports yesterday.
Several media outlets, including the Reuters news service and the Wall Street Journal's AllThingsD website, said Apple had confirmed that Mansfield, a senior vice president and head of the company's Technologies division, was no longer on Apple's top-tier executive team. He will continue to work at the company, however, and report to CEO Tim Cook.
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Earlier Sunday, speculation that Mansfield had left Apple was sparked by the removal of his photograph from the executive team's website. MacRumors first reported on Mansfield's vanishing act, claiming that he had disappeared in the previous 24 hours. The Bing search engine cache showed that Mansfield was still listed on the leadership page on Friday, July 26.
Mansfield was among the handful of men at the top of the Cupertino, Calif. company, a group that also included Craig Federighi, who oversees all software development; Jonathan Ive, head of all design; and Peter Oppenheimer, the company's CFO.
An out-and-out departure by Mansfield would not have been surprising. In mid-2012, Mansfield announced his retirement from Apple, where he'd been since 1999. Dan Riccio, formerly the hardware lead for the iPad, was picked to take his place as head of all hardware engineering.
However, in August -- reportedly at Cook's urging -- Mansfield changed his mind and was appointed to lead a new Technologies group, described by Apple as composed of the company's wireless and semiconductor teams.
Mansfield has also been on a stock selling spree for the last eight months, hinting that the special projects label may be temporary, and if so, signaling that he had long planned an exit.
Before his June 2012 retirement announcement, Mansfield's stock vesting schedule had been altered to account for an open-ended employment -- originally he was to stay several months during the transition to Riccio -- so that he would accrue shares daily rather than forfeit them all if he left before June 21, 2013.