Apple Exec Who Sold 95 Percent of His Shares Isn't Abandoning Ship

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A big 95 percent sell-off of one's stake in a company might indicate said person had some sort of scary insider information about the company's impending implosion. But from the looks of it, Apple Senior Vice President Scott Forstall made his $38.7 million deal not because he plans on leaving a doomed company.

Unless there's some sort of crazy scandal happening at Apple, besides that little freak blip in Apple's stock last month, it doesn't look like the tech behemoth is waning in any way. The company saw hugenormous profits the last two quarters. And, also got out of its Foxconn PR scandal, thanks to Mike Daisey's not-quite-true accounts of the horrible conditions at Apple's manufacturing plants. With all this success, Forstall stands to make even more money by sticking around. And he has also indicated he wants an even bigger leadership role at the company. Why would he leave now?

On top of the millions he just made, if Forstall sticks around a few more years he'll get even more cash-money, Fortune's Philip Elmer Dewitt points out:

He has two more retention bonuses in the wings:

  • 100,000 restricted stock units (RSUs) that were granted in 2010 and vest in 2014
  • 150,000 RSUs granted in 2011 that vest in equal parts in 2013 and 2016, provided he stays with the company

His 64,151 shares earned him $38.7 million. Dewitt predicts this bunch, along with his $700,000 yearly salary could get him something in the quarter billion dollar range, assuming Apple grows as expected. Even without those retention shares, he has 2,988 shares left right now, which at Apple's current stock price would get him an additional $1.7 million, as CNET's Don Reisenger points out. At a certain point, though, it's just more money on top of an already enormous pile of money. 

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This isn't just about money, though. Forstall has indicated he wants power. "If there's a knock on Forstall," writes Adam Lashinsky in his recently released book  Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired -- and Secretive -- Company Really Works. "It's that he wears his ambition in plainer view than the typical Apple executive. He blatantly accumulated influence in recent years, including, it is whispered, when Jobs was on medical leave," continues Lashinsky. Forstall already has a ton of influence, as the head of software for the iPhone and iPad. Apple's not likely to let the mind behind that, which Lashinsky describes as "sharp, down-to-earth, and talented ... He's the total package." And from the sounds of it, Forstall will want more than his current supporting role. 

But maybe, maybe -- and we're just totally guessing here -- Forstall has given up on that dream and is cashing out to do something on his own? With the giant sums of money we're talking about, those extra 250,000 of restricted stock units he's promised aren't all that valuable. What's an extra quarter million when you're already at 38? 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.