John Gruber giving his thoughts on Apple’s newest VP Kevin Lynch. There is also an Exhibit B. Like Gruber, it concerns me that Lynch kept beating the Flash drum for so long, even when it was clear it was dead.

  • That’s what I’d expect him to do. he’s paid to do that. How many Apple people stood up and defended things that we all knew weren’t going to work well until the point the product was canceled?

    Bagging on the CTO for following the company line is a bit unrealistic.

    • Monadical

      I’d like to think CTO’s set or help set the company line. But it’s possible Adobe’s CTO position was weaker. I also have a bad feeling.

      • Steven Fisher

        Given that they’re not replacing him, I suspect he didn’t have much control over things.

      • We really don’t know what he may have fought for and argued against behind closed doors in this case. We just know what his public positions were on the overall strategy. Ultimately I would expect the decisions on an important technology like Flash to be been taken at the CEO level. The CEO may listen to his CTO, but that doesn’t mean he will reach the same conclusions when setting the company line.

    • Van Hecksing

      Gruber isn’t bagging on him for following the company line: “I get that the guy worked for Adobe and had to play for the home team, but as CTO he backed a dying technology for years too long.”

      The second part of that sentence is the key and it matches the other arguments that Gruber is making: “Lynch wasn’t just an employee pushing the company line. As CTO, he was the guy who defined the company line”.

      Gruber’s argument is that Lynch was a bozo because he was too stubborn to realise that they were pushing a failure for too long.

      • A CTO does not ‘define’ the company line. If you actually believe that, I submit you have no clue about what a CTO does.

        • kibbles

          youre high. a CTO does by nature define the technology pimped by his employer. from wikipedia:

          • CTO typically reports directly to the chief executive officer (CEO) and is primarily concerned with long-term and “big picture” issues (while still having deep technical knowledge of the relevant field).

          • a CTO principally oversees development of new technologies (of various types)

          • Another major distinction [from CIOs] is between technologies that a firm seeks to actually develop to commercialize itself vs. technologies that support or enable a firm to carry out its ongoing operations.

          • While I’m glad you have your degree from the university of wikipedia, please, allow me to contrast that with some examples from reality:

            a University: CTO was only influential in Direct IT issues. They were unable to set any policy, and had almost no purchasing authority. It was a figurehead position.

            A financial services company: They created the previously non-existent CTO position as a punishment for someone who hadn’t screwed up enough to get fired, but just enough to never be allowed near the board. He could, once a month on his own, buy a computer. That was it. He had no less than two people between him and the CEO.

            An advertising company: not much more than what another company would call an IT director. Certainly not whispering in the CEO’s ear.

            the wikipedia version is good as a general guide, but it is not a job description. Every company defines the CTO position as they see fit. Even based on Lynch’s Adobe bio, unless you actually work with him, you have zero idea of what his influence and power ACTUALLY are.

            And in any event, even if his job duties perfectly match the wikipedia version, as someone in that position, the chances of him going out and giving anything but full, enthusiastic support for a major initiative by his company are zero. Were he to do that, it would be seen as a gross betrayal of his employer, and he’d not only be fired, but be lucky to get another gig at that level outside of a company he owned. He’d be rightfully seen as someone you simply couldn’t trust. The team he slagged would, if the company were lucky, just quit.

  • DanielSw

    So it’s impossible the man could have learned his lesson? Trying to predict the future by looking backwards into the past is pretty stupid.

    • That might be a bad example. Herr von Braun was one of the many beneficiaries from the suddenly rising commie paranoia, and his options were pretty much to face a trial, or to collaborate. While he lived on for more than 20 years after WWII, he never apologized or even showed any regret for his actions.

      Let’s be fair… Kevin Lynch only promoted Flash, he did not quite build the V2. Both are disgusting, both are fatal, but only one was deadly.

      • DanielSw

        My point is that, despite misdirections of the past, Von Braun proved quite useful in a different corporate culture. Are you some bigot to condemn all Germans for collaborating with the Nazis? How do any of us presume to know either Von Braun’s or now Mr. Lynch’s loyalties? If anything, I think his Apple hire implies a rather convincing sales pitch on his part.


    Another whisper campaign starting again from within Apple. Or Main Apple bloggers getting their long knives out in the open.

    Oh the heavy burden of crown. agony! agony!

  • tylernol

    Indicting him for promoting flash is a bit harsh.. it was his job and he might have a good outsider perspective on Apple’s strength’s and weaknesses. Good to have a dissenting view, especially in a group like Mansfield’s.

    • Um, could you elaborate on “especially in a group like Mansfield’s”?

      If something is wrong with Apple, it’s certainly not the hardware?

      • tylernol

        but Mansfield is no longer the head of hardware…

        • Raycer

          He’s head of “Technologies” which according to his PR page includes “wireless and semiconductor teams across the company”. Sounds like hardware to me.

          • tylernol

            that was a new position brought in for him. As I understand it , he took on the chip stuff again, but also his group has more of a research bent beyond that, where Lynch would probably fit in.

      • DanielSw

        What is this “um” thing? Mind impediment?

        And what is all this “bad feeling” crap being spewed here?

        I’ve been a happy customer of BOTH Apple and Adobe since 1987, BOTH of whose products AND cooperation were responsible for the profound innovation of “desktop publishing” then and still now.

        You bozos keep dwelling on the misdirections which happened between them over the years. But I, for one LOVE the new software subscription model of CS6 Creative Cloud in which Mr. Lynch may have been a key player.

        Instead of drawing your incessantly negative conclusions, seemingly based on nothing more than irrelevant vague generalities and groundless suppositions, I think what speaks far more loudly here is that APPLE HIRED HIM, for cryin’ out loud! Give the man a break and a chance to prove himself. Like DED said in a recent tweet, Adobe squandered $3B on Flash. Lynch had no choice but to try to work with what Jobs called old technology.

  • Gruber is off base here. Distilling a persons qualifications to one topic is like defining Jobs or Apple based on MobileMe. Lynch oversaw a very successful cloud/web-services transition at adobe. This is an area gruber himself calls a weakness for apple. I would think anyone who finds Apple’s icloud offering lacking should be excited about this hire.

    • But then… he is reporting to Mansfield, SVP of Hardware… don’t see the connection.

      Yes, iCloud is lacking; but how somebody from Adobe, a company even more average and committee-driven than MS and with terrible cloud services, should solve that?

    • Ozmatic

      Bad analogy. Jobs wasn’t in charge of MobileMe and shitcanned whoever was after its disastrous launch. Apple even apologised for it (as they did with Maps recently).

      Jobs was smart enough to see that MobileMe was a dud and needed to be fixed. Lynch kept pumping up Flash on mobile for years after it was clear that it was a turd.

      As for Adobe’s “very” successful Cloud transition at Adobe – the jury still out on that one. So far their subscription plans haven’t exactly been popular with their existing customers. Especially for Australians who have to pay 70% more than Americans to download the CS Suite.

      • yes, however until the moment he killed mobileme, he and other Apple execs were supportive of it in public. Just like Lynch was of a MAJOR TECHNOLOGY PUSH FROM HIS EMPLOYER.

        This is not some weird thing. this is what you do when you work for a company. In private, sure, you point out flaws, bang tables, etc. But in public, ESPECIALLY at his level, you support things. It’s how stuff works.

        Things that were duds that Apple execs under Jobs supported until said duds were cancelled:

        the cube mobileme that moto ‘itunes’ phone thing


        That’s how the world works.

        • Exactly!

        • Ozmatic

          Apple publicly apologised for MobileMe long before they killed/replaced it. Jobs was smart enough to acknowledged there were problems with it. Lynch kept insisting that Flash on mobile was fantastic (the next version was always going to fix all problems) and HTML5 was going to plunge the world into darkness.

          And the ROKR? Seriously? Jobs could barely conceal his contempt for the thing. After it was introduced he never mentioned it again. Jon Rubinstein called it “an experiment” while Motorola was still selling the damn things. You can’t compare that to the relentless support for Flash that Lynch pushed for years.

          • Jobs acknowledged problems with it after it was a known failure and they were sunsetting it.

            Lynch never said HTML5 was going to plunge the world into darkness. He said “so users and content creators would be thrown back to the dark ages of video on the Web with incompatibility issues.”

            To an extent, we did. Thanks to Flash for its initial push of H.264, content producers had content in that format ready and browsers jumping on that bandwagon so we can now play H.264 across browsers. We still have compat’ issues here/there but overall you can get away with H.264.

    • The Creative Cloud is a confusing mess, perhaps intentionally so. The easy option is to rent the entire Master Collection, which appears to be Adobe’s preferred outcome. I think what this will do is increase the pressure from below from apps like Pixelmator and Hype.

      I may be biased, since I don’t play Flash games, but I thought Adobe buying Macromedia was a terrible idea from the very beginning, and I absolutely agree that somebody who was CTO of Adobe and did not fight tooth and nail against Flash is going to be a drag on Apple’s innovation.

      • That’s ridiculous. Someone that was the CTO of Adobe was to fight against he most successful software in history? Come on people.

        Flash lost the battle for sure but going down without a fight would have shown the CTO had no back bone.

        • Flash had its day on the desktop, though it never was anything but a resource hog on the Mac.

          Things got really stupid when Adobe persisted in trying to port Flash to mobile even after it was clear that it would not work.

          As CTO, Lynch should have had the vision to start repurposing the Flash authoring platform towards a viable mobile backend years ago.

          • It actually worked but it was inconsistent across devices. On certain one’s, I saw some pretty great performance. On others, it was bad.

            If they would have dropped support for every single SWF version (it supports FutureSplash SWFs too), they could have really honed in on performance. But…’tis life and history. 🙂

            No one had vision for what was happening. It was all new and even Apple, who led the charge, wasn’t clear on things. They had to adjust (native apps, etc) as things happened.

            You don’t abandon your #1 product just because the waters get rough. If any CTO did that, I’d call that person a bozo.

          • how do you know he wasn’t doing that in private. Notice how the flash toolset has been being repurposed over time.

        • He was the one responsible for Flash! If he was an A player, he would have fired the developers responsible for it, hired talented replacements, and rebuilt that POS product.

          That’s the problem. Not that he defended it.

  • CTOh no he didnt

    The way Gruber feels about Kevin Lynch is the way everyone in the UK felt when Apple hired that other bozo from Dixons to run the retail business. He just doesn’t seem to be the right fit for Apple, especially considering his previous stance on Flash.

    Also, if he’s there to fix iCloud like everyone is assuming based on his recent work at Adobe, why doesn’t he report to Eddie Cue? He’s internet software and services guy in charge of iCloud/iTunes/Siri.

  • Calling the guy a bozo when you know next to nothing about him is rash. While it looks like a weird choice one should give the guy and those who chose him the benefit of doubt.

  • Gandhi

    Quote from Erik Jackson via DaringFireball: “A bozo is someone who thinks they are much smarter and capable than they actually are. They constantly over-estimate their abilities and under-estimate the risks and threats around them. They typically don’t keep an open-mind. They look instead for data that confirms a previously held bias.”

    I think it’s Gruber who is the bozo here. He is biased against Adobe and their stance on Flash and subsequent attacks on Apple. He thinks he knows Apple better then the executives who work at Apple. He overestimates his expertise on Apple and underestimates the risks (for example, promoting Andy Zaky as the oracle of Apple analysts all the while Zaky was literally losing millions for his investors). He is not keeping an open mind about Lynch. Instead, he is only pointing out data that confirms his previously held bias.

    Give Lynch a chance at least before you Apple bloggers decide to lynch him.

    • Gruber’s commentary is usually smart and accurate, but I think he’s way over the line here, both in substance and in style.

      Insulting Lynch personally is not cool, at all.

      • kibbles

        it isnt “personal” — it’s plainly professional. yes, you can call someone a bozo in reference to their work. like John Dvorak — have never met the man therefore its not personal, merely professional.

        words matter.

  • I think Gruber is way off here. Lynch was the CTO of the company behind Flash. Was he supposed to abandon ship at the first sign of issue w/ Apple? No. He was supposed to do his job and he did it.

    Everyone in the Adobe community has immense respect for Lynch, for good reason, but respect, and bias, aside…Gruber is off here.

    It is akin to calling Jobs a bozo for railing against 7″ screens even though he was told they were worth it by Schiller. Turns out the iPad mini is the best iPad they ever made, IMHO.

    • tylernol

      100% agree. Gruber is acting liking a vindictive brat.

      • kibbles

        vindictive? does/did Gruber work for apple? nope. then how could he be extracting revenge for something he neither made nor sold? i think youre using the wrong word.

        • He has a stake in Apple’s success so it may be a possibility of vindication in there. 😉

    • When Steve Jobs made that comment, the only existing 7″ tablet was the Samsung GalaxyTab, a 7″ tablet that was essentially a bigger Galaxy S, using a smartphone OS.

      The first Android device running a tablet OS was the Motorola Xoom, announced 2.5 months after Steve’s rant – and with a 10.1″ display.

      The iPad Mini has a much bigger screen than 7″ tablets and was running a tablet OS from the beginning, I think it’s quite obvious that the iPad Mini ist not exactly like a 7″ Android tablet from the time that Steve made his comment.

      • I’m not talking about his initial comment but the amount of fervor he applied internally to people suggesting they do a smaller form factor.

        Yes, the mini is a bit bigger than 7″. That wasn’t the point. A smaller form factor is what Steve was against. He thought ~10 was the perfect size.

        But…look at the point of my comparison not the history specifics.

  • Terry Maraccini

    Gruber missed the mark. Your boss tells you to evangelize the product, you evangelize the product. I would be suspicious of someone in my organization that at least publicly would not sing the praises of the technology. And, it’s speculative at this point exactly what he will be doing there.

    • kibbles

      here’s where youre wrong — the CTO isnt just some marketing grunt. he defines the product’s technology. he was instrumental in it. and in re-imagining that tech to something better if it’s time has come…which flash’s did, yet he didnt.

      • which has nothing to do with how you talk about major company initiatives in public.