Apple Loses Retail Tycoon Mickey Drexler from Board

Longtime Apple board member Millard "Mickey" Drexler told the company he will retire on March 10th, 2015, the end of his current term. Mr. Drexler joined Apple's board at the invitation of the late Steve Jobs in 1999, and he helped develop Apple's massively successful Apple Store retail strategy.

Mr. Drexler is the Chairman and CEO of J. Crew. When he joined Apple's board, he was CEO of The Gap, Inc. Apple took much of its architectural and some of its layout cues from The Gap when it launched its fleet of Apple Stores.

Apple didn't so much announce Mr. Drexler's departure as reveal it in its annual 10-K filing with the SEC (via CNET). In that filing Apple said, "On January 16, 2015, Millard “Mickey” Drexler, 70, who has served on the Board since 1999, notified the Board of his intention to retire at the end of his current term, which will expire at the Annual Meeting."

Apple has not named a successor, and Mr. Drexler's departure means that Apple's board will be even smaller, at seven members. In comparison, Microsoft's board is comprised of ten members, while Google has eleven—Apple is much larger in terms of revenues, though both Google and Microsoft have more proverbial irons in the fire.

It will be interesting to see where Apple CEO Tim Cook wants to take his board. While CEOs don't usually name their own board members, Tim Cook appears to be firmly in charge of his company. As such, the board's chairman, Dr. Arthur D. Levinson, is likely to be on board (no pun intended) with whomever Mr. Cook thinks can help him.

In addition to overseeing management's decisions, a board of directors oversees executive compensation and shareholder interests. Apple's board has also typically adviced its CEO on particular areas of expertise. For Mr. Drexler, it was retail. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's expertise is the Environment and Washington politics. Robert Iger of Disney's expertise is in media, media relations, and the like.

Apple's retail strategy is firmly established, especially with Senior Vice President Angela Ahrendts now overseeing retail operations. As such, Mr. Cook may or may not feel he needs a retail tycoon on the board.

Speaking of Ms. Ahrendts, the same SEC filing revealed that she made some US$73.3 million in compensation in 2014, including some $70 million in stock-based compensation as part of her signing bonus. Apple CEO Tim Cook made "just" $9.2 million. Here's the table from Apple's filing:

Apple 2014 Executive Compensation

Apple Executive Compensation for Fiscal 2014