March 20--In one of the more ironic cross-corporate talent transfers in Silicon Valley, Adobe Systems (ADBE) confirmed Tuesday that Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch, who famously defended his company's Flash technology, will be going to Apple (AAPL), whose co-founder Steve Jobs famously trashed the software platform and forbade its use on any iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
"Kevin Lynch has joined Apple as vice president of technology, reporting to Bob Mansfield," said Apple spokesman Steve Dowling, who added that Lynch "was shaping Adobe's long-term technology vision across the company."
Adobe said Lynch's departure will be effective March 22.
"We will not be replacing the CTO position; responsibility for technology development lies with our business unit heads under the leadership of Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen," Adobe said in a statement, shortly after announcing strong first-quarter earnings. "We wish Kevin well in this new chapter of his career."
Analyst Tim Bajarin with Creative Strategies said that despite the irony of the announcement, one should be careful not to read
too much into Lynch's move to Cupertino.
"This should not be interpreted as Apple changing its position on Flash," Bajarin said. "Adobe has changed part of its direction on Flash anyway and they're working more and more on a broad set of technologies for running apps and video, and anyone at Adobe working on that would be valuable to Apple."
Adobe did not make Lynch available for an interview. But Bajarin said Lynch had been actively involved in Adobe's cloud-based productivity software,
called Creative Cloud, another example of the rich background of experience Lynch could use to help Apple in its own plans for cloud computing.
In 2010, Jobs loudly proclaimed that Adobe Flash was too unstable and insecure to merit its use on the iPhone and iPad. The war of words between Jobs and Flash defenders at Adobe captivated Silicon Valley for months as observers tried to figure out what Jobs' motivation was for being so publicly critical of a company that had enjoyed a long history of cooperation with Apple.
"This is not about technology," analyst Ray Valdes with Gartner Research said at the time. "The criticisms from Apple about Flash can also be applied to many other systems that Apple has not directly opposed."
Avi Greengart with Current Analysis said the real explanation for Lynch's move was that "Apple found a great technical hire and they hired him.
"But I do definitely appreciate the irony here," he added. "Maybe by jumping ship, Lynch is simply saying 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.'"
Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689; follow him at Twitter.com/patmaymerc.
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