Wayne Goodrich was the executive producer behind Apple's sleek and storied debuts of new iPads and iPhones. He claims that he was such a valuable employee to Steve Jobs that Jobs promised he'd always have a job at the company.
So how has the new, Jobs-less Apple thanked him? The 14-year veteran, fired two months after Jobs' death, is now suing his former employer.
Bloomberg News reports that Apple let him go in December for no legitimate reason, per a lawsuit filed last Friday. Goodrich has brought a laundry list of charges against Apple, including "breach of contract and unfair business practices," and he "seeks damages for lost restricted stock units, wages, benefits and emotional distress," according to Bloomberg. In addition to being executive producer of Apple’s public presentations, Goodrich also says he was the first employee to meet with the makers of Siri ahead of Apple's purchase of the voice-command digital assistant.
Of course, we're only hearing Goodrich's side of the story; Apple, being Apple, did not respond to Bloomberg's request for comment.
Although the staggering success kickstarted and overseen by Steve Jobs has continued after his death (the company hit a record $621 billion valuation earlier this week), this lawsuit serves as a reminder that Apple's under new management and evolving into a different company than the one Jobs headed up. Without Goodrich, could Apple lose the polish on its presentations that have served to amp the hype around new products? Will the new iPhone (unofficially called the "iPhone 5") enjoy a launch event as carefully crafted as its predecessors? "It’s worth wondering what the iPhone 5 presentation will look like knowing that Goodrich likely had nothing to do with it," TechCrunch astutely noted. We'll have to wait and see: The new handset is widely believed to be launching on September 12 and hitting shelves on September 21.
But to speculate further, maybe what we're seeing is Jobs' more business-oriented successor, current CEO Tim Cook, willing to part with key longtime employees in order to save a few bucks. Goodrich claims he was let go so the company could avoid paying him restricted stock. While we don't have dollar figures, could it be that we're seeing the new Apple making a short term cost cut in lieu of keeping Jobs-blessed talent around to help pitch products in the long term?
We don't know, of course, but we do know that Apple's a-changing under the more business-minded Tim Cook. As Fortune notes in its May profile of Cook, "there are signs of Apple becoming a more normal company." It continues: "Indeed, the vibe, in the words of a former employee, is of an Apple that is becoming 'far more traditional,' meaning more MBAs, more process, and more structure."
More "normal" also might be the bottom line trumping Steve Jobs' promise of lifetime employment.