Wow, It Wasn't A Dud After All (3/1/05)

The truth will out! Remember last November when we killed some time wondering about a couple of mysterious departures by Apple executives? Probably not, since it wasn't exactly an A-list plot twist; after all, people join and leave big companies all the time. Indeed, the only drama we could really wring out of the whole thing stemmed from 1) AppleCare veep Mark Wilhelm possibly having been canned for not raking in enough subscriptions (which was utter speculation), and 2) Mac product engineering bigwig Tim Bucher having left in a suspiciously hush-hush manner, with no official announcement of his departure until at least a week after he went bye-bye. Not exactly the stuff of your finest melodrama.

At least, not until you let it simmer for a few months and add a pinch of litigation to release the delicious and sordid details locked within. As far as we know, the Wilhelm thing's a bust-- absolutely no drama to sink one's teeth into-- but man oh man, the Tim Bucher story is now just bursting with long-lasting flavor. CNET finally reports that Bucher didn't quit, but was in fact fired from Apple-- only technically not in November. Apparently it went something like this: Bucher, as you may recall, was the veep of Mac system development until last May, when he was named senior veep of Mac hardware engineering to replace Jon Rubinstein, who was getting shunted over to the new iPod division. What you probably didn't know was that, according to Bucher, Apple never filled his old position, and he had to juggle the duties of both jobs for six months... until November 10th, when he was sent home without explanation. Steve Jobs allegedly told him, "You're not a failure. Even God couldn't have done both of the jobs I pushed you to do."

But, see, even after being sent home, Bucher hadn't formally left the company yet, which explains the hush-hush nature of his departure last November; he was in Job Limbo, presumably "on leave" or some such thing. While he was on the bench, Steve reportedly informed him that some employees thought he was "manic-depressive" and that Steve might have to ask him to leave the company. According to The Mac Observer, the call to resign came two days after that; Bucher refused, and so Apple fired him-- eventually. It seems he got a letter in early January finally informing him that he'd been terminated as of December 31st.

Just to make things even juicier, when Bucher was escorted off of Apple premises, the company's human resources director reportedly informed him that he "should talk to a psychologist" and offered to rustle one up for him. Bucher said he didn't want a shrink; Apple insisted and booked an appointment, though neither CNET nor TMO know whether or not Bucher actually attended. But between the mandatory psych consult and Steve's cryptic comment about manic-depressive behavior, it's not too difficult to guess what "perceived disability" Bucher claims was responsible in part for his dismissal.

To top it all off, the reason all this dirt is coming to light is because Bucher is now suing Apple for wrongful termination, alleging that no one had ever found fault with his performance, and that he'd been fired only because he had fallen "victim to a corporate power play" and because of the aforementioned "perceived disability." Why, do we detect the distinctive scent of more dirty laundry to be aired, this time in a courtroom? It's almost a shame that Apple will most likely settle the case to keep the hamper closed. Since it's all just "he said / she said" at this point (well, okay, just "he said" so far), we can't even begin to guess whether Bucher's suit has merit. We hope that this whole mess gets resolved in a way that's fair to everyone involved-- and if not, well, we hope that we at least get some primo drama out of it all...

SceneLink (5195)
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far


The above scene was taken from the 3/1/05 episode:

March 1, 2005: A former Apple exec sues the company for wrongful termination-- let the airing of grievances commence! Meanwhile, evidence reveals some rumored-but-missing Apple features really were planned after all, and the major record labels worry about the iTunes Music Store getting too popular, even as Apple announces that it's just sold its 300 millionth song...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 5196: It's All Really Real-- Really (3/1/05)   Does it ever bug you when Apple introduces new products that fall short of their rumored capabilities and features? We know, we know-- it's completely irrational to blame Apple for not living up to a standard it never announced in the first place and that's based entirely on unfounded rumor and speculation...

  • 5197: And No Slowdown In Sight (3/1/05)   Folks, just a quick update on yesterday's whole spiel about the recording industry trying to hike prices at the iTunes Music Store: as it turns out, the major labels aren't entirely evil after all...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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