Apple quietly removed Paul Deneve from its leadership website, as first noted by MacRumors. Mr. Deneve came from the fashion world and was Vice President of Special Projects at Apple. Prior to his stint at Apple, Mr. Deneve’s resume included companies and brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Nina Ricci, Lanvin, Courreges, and oil-giant ExxonMobil.
His image and name have been removed from Apple’s Leadership page, and his personal bio now resolves to a “Page not found” placeholder. Apple hasn’t announced his departure, nor has Mr. Deneve announced a move. Put another way, it’s unknown if he left Apple or was terminated.
[Update: Financial Times of London‘s San Francisco reporter Tim Bradshaw tweeted on Saturday that Apple said Paul Deneve remained at Apple, but would now be reporting to COO Jeff Williams, rather than directly to CEO Tim Cook. This makes his removal from the leadership page an issue of chain of command, rather than Mr. Deneve having left Apple. I’m leaving the original article unaltered. – Bryan]
Here’s the Way Back Machine archive of his personal bio:
Special Projects was the group that developed Apple Watch, and Mr. Deneve was involved in marketing the device. His background in the fashion world was part of Apple’s push to position Apple Watch as a fashion accessory. Before Apple Watch, smartwatches were marketed as gadgets and devices for tech savvy nerds (like us).
Apple was able to change those perceptions for Apple Watch, a feat which few have paid much attention to. It is, however, a key part of how Apple was able to get Apple Watch out in front of more people.
Whither Mr. Deneve?
The question to me is why he left Apple. Did he simply get a new opportunity? Was Tim Cook unhappy with him? Is Apple backing away from its push to make Apple Watch a fashion accessory?
We simply don’t have any answers for such questions yet, but I suspect Mr. Deneve left on his own accord. There’s been no indication of a change in marketing direction for Apple Watch, aside from Apple playing up more of the device’s fitness-oriented abilities. Straps are still important, finish is still important, design is still important, and Apple Watch is still being pitched as a fashion accessory.
The reality is that executives like Paul Deneve are in high demand, especially when they did several years at Apple. He was first hired by Apple in 2013. It’s unknown when he left Apple, but it’s most likely this week.