One of Silicon Valley's favorite hobbies is trying to make sense of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) plans, and Apple's people enjoy teasing them with a series of "Maybe we will and maybe we won't" non-answers. Such is the state of the game with Paul Deneve, the recently departed CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, who has joined Apple as a VP "working on special projects" and reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook, according to an All Things Digital story.
The story gives a hint as to its content by using the headline: "Why Did Apple Just Hire a Fashion Industry CEO?" Observation: Whenever a story/report/TV news-tease ever labels a story with a question, that question is never answered in the story. (Just once I want to tune into a news story with the tease of "Will Congress Ever Pass Meaningful Election Reform?" and have the piece open with the reporter saying "Will they? No, they never will. Now that we've answered the question, let's explore why they won't." Never going to happen.)
The answer to the question of what Deneve will do is pretty hard to divine and that "special projects" title doesn't help much. (Typically, that's the title for someone who has been shown the door and given three months to quietly disappear. But when someone is hired with that title, it doesn't reveal much.)
Indeed, his background could work well for Apple in several ways. First, he might be a good candidate for a senior European—or even global—chieftan. Deneve has already worked for Apple in a similar role, serving as the sales manager and marketing manager for Apple Europe for seven years, from 1990 through 1997. So he understands the Apple culture. Well, maybe. Those years were after Steve Jobs had been forced out and ended just as Steve Jobs returned. Jobs returned as interim CEO in July 1997 and it's unclear exactly when in '97 Deneve left, but if he left before Jobs returned, it's safe to say that he's never directly experienced the culture of the current Apple.
The All Things Digital piece also raised the possibility that Apple's interest is in Deneve's design skills. More than any other retailer/manufacturer today, Apple appreciates aesthetics and design. With Steve Jobs gone, someone with that kind of perspective is needed. Chief Design Officer?
"Marketing luxury goods, after all, is what taking the helm of Yves Saint Laurent is all about, not to mention his stints at Courreges, Nina Ricci and Lanvin. Not a far cry to go back to marketing Apple products, the high-design luxury goods of the tech world," the story said. "Or if you're keen on the idea that Apple is fast moving into the world of wearables—namely, iWatches, or things of that sort—perhaps a fashion exec is the exact sort of person you'd need working on it."
- See this All Things Digital story
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