End of an era? Stocks slide as iPhone designer Jony Ive leaves Apple after 30yrs

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Jony Ive, the mind behind Apple’s most iconic product designs, is leaving the company to launch his own design firm, triggering a sell-off among investors who see the iPhone mastermind as key to the company’s identity.

Ive will launch an independent design firm called LoveFrom later this year with another well-known designer, Marc Newson. While Apple’s press release announcing the move was quick to note that LoveFrom “will count Apple among its primary clients,” the company’s shares were down 2.24 points an hour after the announcement, which was conveniently made a few minutes before markets closed on Thursday.

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Ive will continue to work with Apple on “exclusive projects,” CEO Tim Cook stressed in the release, also highlighting the “brilliant and passionate design team he has built” over three decades with the company.

The company’s VPs of Industrial Design and Interface Design will attempt to fill Ive’s rather sizable shoes with the help of COO Jeff Williams, who will “spend more of his time working with the design team in their studio,” the release said.

In addition to the iPhone, Ive designed the iPod, Apple Watch, and the company’s futuristic “Apple Park” campus, along with several Macs including the new Mac Pro debuting this year. He has also voiced design videos and helped to redesign software, dramatically overhauling iOS and MacOS to bring them better in line with the company’s streamlined, minimalist aesthetic.

He has led Apple’s design studio since 1996 and formed a close working relationship with founder Steve Jobs when the latter rejoined the company the following year. Their first collaboration, the 1998 iMac, initiated the company’s wildly successful comeback from all but certain economic doom.

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