It’s amazing that Phillip Shoemaker still works at Apple. The app store director obsessed with porn and escorts, as we reported yesterday, has also used Twitter to attack execs at rival companies and media critics, we’ve learned.Apple’s Director of Application Technology made headlines yesterday when it emerged that he had approved three of his own apps, including a urination and fart toy called iWiz, in apparent violation of Apple employment rules. The man charged with enforcing Apple’s ban on content in bad taste, like porn, was also publicly following porn stars and a long string of escorts and escort services from his Twitter account. Which wouldn’t be quite so embarrassing if he didn’t work for a brilliant, high profile executive who developed a recent sideline campaigning against all manner of adult entertainment, to say nothing of political and other controversial speech.
That same boss, Jobs, is also intensely sensitive to his employees talking out of school, especially to the press.
Which is why it’s strange that Shoemaker maintained a whole other Twitter account during his Apple employment where he ruthlessly insulted the company’s critics, including two high-profile developers and a prominent journalist.
The account was named after Shoemaker’s old iPhone software company, grey Noodle LLC, and appears to have been deleted along with Shoemaker’s other tweet stream when Wired contacted Apple PR.
Back in November, when he was already working for Apple, Shoemaker took an audacious slap at one of the Apple App Store’s most important contributors, Facebook.
Specifically, Shoemaker unloaded on Joe Hewitt, who said he was handing off iPhone duties to another Facebook programmer because he was fed up with Apple’s restrictive review policies. Shoemaker belittled Hewitt as a “mediocre engineer” and “not a trailblazer,” even though Hewitt created Facebook’s hugely popular iPhone app, which has earned an average four-star rating from more than 1.3 million people, who use it to check up on their friends and family. Shoemaker’s most popular app, in comparison, is an electronic animated flame, suggested for use during concerts, and has earned an average two stars from 51 users, 31 of whom gave the app the lowest possible rating of one star.
While putting down Hewitt, Shoemaker simultaneously dissed Joe Stump, the recently departed Chief Technology Officer of social news website Digg, who had written a post about the app store titled, “Pass the lubricant as we’re getting fucked by Apple too.”
The app store director also had unkind words for a survey of iPhone developers providing feedback about the app store, although it’s unclear whether Shoemaker hated what the developers had to say, or if he instead hated the Google Spreadsheets app used to collate the feedback.
On occasion, Shoemaker would use the Twitter account to dole out advice to developers in his role overseeing Apple’s app store. One tweet, for example, said, “Test your app on iPhone 3.0 prior to submission!”
Others messages were less helpful. After Vanity Fair columnist and author Michael Wolff complained that “creepy Steve Jobs” and his minions rejected an iPhone app connected to Wolff’s website Newser, Shoemaker used his inside knowledge to unload on him via @GrayNoodle:
It’s baffling and kind of fascinating that Jobs has entrusted the app store — a highly strategic choke point for Apple, and one often cited for being run in an opaque, inconsistent and often infuriating manner — to such an oddball, to a guy who seems such a strange fit for Apple. Shoemaker, after all, is volubly imprudent where Jobs is, in public at least, famously careful and calculating in all he says — not to mention famously intolerant of talkative underlings. Shoemaker publicly followed at least 16 porn stars, escorts and escort services on Twitter after Jobs had repeatedly denounced adult entertainment as dangerous. Shoemaker advertises his explosive temper; Jobs projects an aura of Zen calm. Even if in private—and on several public occasions—Jobs has been anything but.
Shoemaker’s Twitter accounts are gone, no doubt at Apple’s insistence, but it wouldn’t be surprising if his crude apps, which in many ways are a more damning contrast of his technical inclinations with those of his coworkers, were right behind them.
Maybe Shoemaker is a weird employee because he was hired at an awkward time: He started in March 2009, smack dab in the middle of Jobs’ medical leave. He was presumably brought on by Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, who launched a public campaign to improve the app store approval process. But Jobs has been back for more than a year now and kept Shoemaker around, despite ongoing complaints about how the app store is run and, for the moment at least, despite the coverage of Shoemaker’s porny Twitter friends and apparent self-dealing in the app store.
Our favourite theory on Shoemaker’s endurance at Apple, though, is the one put emailed to us by a veteran publicist: That Jobs, in looking at the app store and its top cop, followed in the footsteps of President Franklin Roosevelt appointing Joe Kennedy the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Kennedy was infamous for his shady back-room dealings with disreputable Wall Street fleecers, the very guys the SEC was supposed to police . Roosevelt’s allies were up in arms. But Kennedy’s tenure, running less than two years, was a triumph; widely praised by former critics and allies alike as a time when the securities business was substantially cleaned up.
Asked why he had chosen shady Kennedy for the job, Roosevelt, the legend goes, replied, “It takes a thief to catch one.” Shoemaker may not fit the profile of your typical Apple employee any more than Kennedy fit the profile of your typical American regulator. But Shoemaker’s probably as good an archetype as any for your average iPhone developer: Technically smart, opportunistic and a little — sometimes more than a little — dirty minded. Sounds like a guy who knows how to keep filth and scams out of an app store, even if he does leave a dusty trail behind him.
Send an email to Ryan Tate, the author of this post, at [email protected].
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