Other than Steve Jobs' brain, the mind most clearly at work in Apple's history of compelling and human-centric products belongs to Jonathan 'Jony' Ive, 44. After joining Apple in 1992, he rose to become the company's senior vice president of product design and has contributed his own clean, minimalist aesthetic to the wall of industrial design legends. With Tim Cook firmly established as the executive/operations lead on Apple's depth chart, anyone looking for the creative future of Apple has to have Ive at, or near, the top of the list.
Today's Times of London (behind paywall) reports that Ive is about to reap the rewards of his service and dedication. Ive received a 'golden handcuffs' option grant in 2008 when Apple's stock was at a low ebb of around $100, allowing him to buy shares that -- having remained in Apple's employ -- he is now eligible to sell. Ive's profits from these options could approach $30 million, thanks to the dramatic runup in AAPL over the past two years.
With his additional wealth -- his net worth after the options cash in is estimated at $128 million -- Ive and his wife Heather might want to move back to England with their twin sons. The Times suggests that Ive and the Apple board have "been at loggerheads" over Ive's desire to spend more time back home, but the Ives reportedly want to educate their children in England.
Ive owns a manor house worth about $4 million in Somerset. The paper quotes an anonymous friend of the Ives on the topic of a commute from the UK to Cupertino: "Unfortunately he is just too valuable to Apple and they told him in no uncertain terms that if he headed back to England he would not be able to sustain his position with them ... It's a shame. We hardly ever see anyone at the house."
Apple's spokesperson gave the Times a 'no comment' on the option grant and deemed the report of his desire to move to England "speculation."
Photo of John Lasseter & Jonathan Ive from wikimedia commons (cc)