Ron Johnson Stories March 6

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Ex-Apple Store chief talks Steve Jobs, Genius Bar and more in new interview

In a new interview with Recodeformer Apple Store chief Ron Johnson sits down with Kara Swisher to talk about his corporate retail experiences, Steve Jobs, and his ‘idiotic’ Genius Bar idea.

Ron Johnson Stories May 6, 2015

Former Apple retail head launches Enjoy, offering home setup of your gadgets at no extra cost

Ron Johnson, who was Apple’s retail chief for almost 12 years, has finally taken the wraps off the online shopping service he teased back in October of last year. Called Enjoy, the service allows you to order products online for the same price you’d pay buying direct from the manufacturer websites – but get same-day delivery and free home setup.

Whether it’s an iPhone, Sonos speaker system, drone or electric bicycle, the company will send a “personal expert” to your home to hand-deliver the product and spend an hour setting it up and showing you how to use it. The service launches in San Francisco today, reports the WSJ, with New York next in line on 13th May.

Apple is not an official partner, but the company has a deal with AT&T, meaning that customers buying iPhones through the carrier will be offered the option of Enjoy home setup from 19th May.

Johnson acknowledges that consumers may be able to find lower pricing elsewhere, but believes that the convenience of fast delivery and personal setup will make it attractive to time-pressured gadget buyers.

Ron Johnson Stories February 26, 2015

Former Apple retail chief joins online retailer Nasty Gal, leads $16 million round of funding

Former Apple retail chief Ron Johnson is getting back into the fashion game. The man who helped shape the Cupertino company’s retail arm made the jump to become CEO of JCPenney after exiting Apple in 2011, but was eventually removed from his position there as well.

The undeterred Johnson announced today that he would be leading a $16 million round of funding in online women’s retailer Nasty Gal. Johnson has also been appointed to the retailer’s board of directors. Nasty Gal is currently in the process of launching its own physical stores, though it currently only has one location in Los Angeles.

Apple’s ex-exec recently helped raise $30 in funding for online shopping startup Enjoy, and was reported in late 2014 to be working on a gadget delivery service.

Ron Johnson Stories October 24, 2014

Former Apple retail head Ron Johnson raises $30M for intriguing online shopping startup

Ron Johnson, who headed up Apple’s retail operations for almost 12 years, has raised $30M in funding for an intriguing-sounding online shopping service due to launch next year, reports the WSJ.

The new company is called Enjoy, and Mr. Johnson says its goal is to change the way people buy and use the “things that matter” in a world in which consumers start their shopping online […]

Johnson is not giving much away about what Enjoy will offer, but said that it’s designed to help bridge the gap between offline and online shopping for more complex and expensive products.

Enjoy aims to help shoppers develop a connection with new products, in the way that Apple Stores let shoppers try its products. For example, Mr. Johnson said it is hard for customers to understand the capabilities of a new product like a GoPro camera from shopping online.

The Apple background doesn’t end with Johnson, who was SVP of Retail Operations from January 2000 to November 2011: he’s also brought on board Jerry McDougal, a former retail VP at Apple, and creative director Tom Suiter, who played a key role in the iMac campaigns and in-store graphics for Apple Stores.

Photo: Reuters

Ron Johnson Stories September 4, 2014

Former Apple Senior Vice President of Retail (then ousted JCPenney CEO) Ron Johnson made a somewhat rare public-facing appearance on Andreessen Horowitz’s podcast. The discussion comes in at just under half an hour and features the former head of Apple Retail discussing his experience with leading the Apple Store as well as the challenge for up-and-coming startup brands to afford brick-and-mortar retail channels, but more interesting from an Apple perspective is Johnson’s praise for Microsoft’s retail stores and the Surface 3 tablet that the company heavily markets against Apple’s MacBook Air.

“I think the Microsoft stores have succeeded much more than popular opinion. […] I think it’s really helped, for instance, the Surface 3. It’s a really great product and we all know that. Everyone who has tried a Surface 3 is pretty blown away with the software, the interaction, how it can be a tablet and a computer, its part of the future. Without those stores that Surface 3 wouldn’t be where it is today.”

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Ron Johnson Stories May 19, 2014

When Ron Johnson finalized his decision to move from leading Apple’s retail strategy to become the Chief Executive Officer of J.C. Penney, the executive jumped in his car to drive to Steve Jobs’ home and notify the Apple co-founder in his living room of the decision. During his short car ride to Jobs’ Palo Alto home in the summer of 2011, Johnson likely thought about how he would explain his choice. But what Johnson likely did not imagine is that it would take nearly three years for Apple to find a true new leader for the stores the duo created.

In one of current Apple CEO Tim Cook’s first major missteps, the long-time operations maestro hired John Browett, formerly of Dixons, to run retail. Browett’s hire was immediately met with skepticism from Apple customers and retail employees, but Cook defended the hire and called the British executive the “best [choice] by far” to run Apple’s retail division. In the six months that he ran retail, Browett cut back on employee hours, initiated layoffs, and fell out culturally with the rest of the Apple executive team.

John Browett visiting Apple Store

Alongside Scott Forstall, Browett was ejected from the Cupertino-based company, leaving Tim Cook and head-hunting firm Egon Zehnder, again, with the tall task of finding a suitable replacement for Ron Johnson. As the man who ran Dixons, the United Kingdom equivalent to Best Buy, Browett was in many ways built in the image of Johnson. Johnson ran Apple Retail for nearly a decade, and before that he was an executive at both Target and Mervyns. But unlike Browett, Johnson fit into Apple’s culture and was close with both Jobs and Cook throughout his tenure.

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