Bill Campbell Retires from Apple's Board, Sue Wagner Joins

Sue WagnerSue Wagner

Apple announced on Thursday that Sue Wagner is joining its board of directors, while Silicon Valley legend Bill "Coach" Campbell is retiring. Ms. Wagner is a founding partner and a director at BlackRock, a Silicon Valley asset management firm, and she was named one of the 50 Most Powerful Women (#33) by Fortune in 2011.

Sue Wagner cofounded BlackRock in 1988, and Apple noted she was vice chairman of that company's board of directors until 2012. She currently serves on the boards of BlackRock, DSP BlackRock (India), Swiss Re, Wellesley College, and Hackley School.

"Sue is a pioneer in the financial industry and we are excited to welcome her to Apple’s board of directors," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. "We believe her strong experience, especially in M&A and building a global business across both developed and emerging markets, will be extremely valuable as Apple continues to grow around the world."

Apple's chairman, Art Levinson, said that the company's board conducted "an exhaustive search" in its efforts to find a new member. "I'm confident that Sue is going to make an important and positive impact on our company," he said.

Ms. Wagner also issued a statement, saying, "I have always admired Apple for its innovative products and dynamic leadership team, and I’m honored to be joining their board. I have tremendous respect for Tim, Art and the other board members, and I look forward to working with them."

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier in July that CEO Tim Cook was "actively seeking new directors" for his company's board. At that time, I noted that Mr. Cook was likely to use the opportunity to bring greater diversity to Apple's board, and Ms. Wagner does just that.

Not only is she only the second woman on the board (Andrea Jung was the first), she brings experience in the world of asset management—at which she is a superstar—that is new for Apple. With Apple's stunning wealth, that kind of experience could be of tremendous value.

But Bill Campbell was also of tremendous value. He is one of the heroes of Silicon Valley who is a legend within the tech world, even though he is largely unknown outside of those circles. His counsel was widely sought and highly valued, and he played a major role advising Steve Jobs after Mr. Jobs returned to Apple.

Mr. Campbell, aged 73, served on the board for 17 years, and is the longest-serving member since Mr. Jobs returned to the company in 1997. While he is best known for founding and running Intuit—a company that is ironically famous for treating Mac users like dirt—he got his tech start at Apple in 1983. He's called "Coach" not only because of his role as an advisor, but because he was just that, a coach, before moving into tech.

His departure from Apple's board is a blow, as it will be to the other companies he has been serving on for many years, when and if he leaves those posts, too.

In his statement, he said, "Over the past 17 years, it’s been exciting to watch history unfold as Apple emerged as the premier technology company in the world. Working with Steve and Tim has been a joy. The company today is in the best shape that I have seen it, and Tim's leadership of his strong team will allow Apple to continue to be great going forward."

I might be bitter about Intuit's treatment of Mac users, but Mr. Campbell played a large role in Apple's ascension from near-death to technology overlord. Look for lots of stories to surface about his role as Silicon Valley's coach to emerge.