Apple executive sacked after joke about fondling women

Dudley Moore, who starred in "10" and "Arthur, - HO/Reuters
Dudley Moore, who starred in "10" and "Arthur, - HO/Reuters

One of Apple's most senior executives has been sacked after he jokingly quoted a Dudley Moore line about being able to “fondle big breasted women” on the job.

Tony Blevins, formerly vice president of procurement for the world’s most valuable company, was dismissed on Thursday after the quip went viral on a motoring-themed TikTok channel.

“Good sir, your car’s awesome, what do you do for a living?” Mr Blevins was asked by TikToker Daniel Mac in a video published on 18 August.

“I have rich cars, play golf and fondle big breasted women. But I take weekends and major holidays off,” chuckled Blevin, who was wearing a Union Jack waistcoat under a pale green suit while clambering out of a £300,000 Mercedes SLR McLaren.

“Do you participate in this activity,” Mr Mac asks Mr Blevin’s female companion, who is shown as tittering but making no substantial response.

The offending line was originally spoken by Dudley Moore in the 1981 film Arthur, a romantic comedy. The British comedian starred as an indolent playboy being married off to a millionaire’s daughter, only to fall for a shoplifter in New York.

The 25-second clip was enough to cost Mr Blevins his job after Apple employees complained to HR about it, Bloomberg reported.

He said: “I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to anyone who was offended by my mistaken attempt at humour."

Apple confirmed that the 22-year corporate veteran had been fired.

Chief executive Tim Cook was reportedly displeased with the video. Mr Blevins reported directly to the Apple boss.

In a 2020 profile of Mr Blevins, the Wall Street Journal described him as “a guy whose job is badgering suppliers to get costs down”. He is said to have rejected a contract proposal from UPS by sending it back to the postal company via FedEx, its biggest rival.

“I’m a loyal company guy,” Mr Blevins told the newspaper at the time as he declined to comment.

The fired executive previously worked for IBM, which was where he met Mr Cook. He joined Apple in 2000 at Mr Cook’s invitation and rose to head up its chip acquisition process, driving costs out of Apple’s supply chain by striking hard bargains with suppliers.

Mr Blevins was said to have been behind Apple’s three-year split from Imagination Technologies, the British chip design company. In 2017 Imagination announced that Apple was winding down its lucrative chip licensing deal, having begun designing its own rival components in-house.

Imagination’s share price crashed 70pc on the news and the company was sold to a Chinese owner for £550m that same year. Its chip licensing deal with Apple was reinstated in 2020.