Apple Hires Bob Kupbens From Delta for Its E-Commerce Arm

Consumer Tech Giant Continues to Bulk Up In Online Retail

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Bob Kupbens at the Ad Age Digital Conference last year. Credit: Patrick Butler

Bob Kupbens has left his post at Delta Air Lines as VP-marketing and digital commerce to join Apple, according to his LinkedIn page and people familiar with Apple. His LinkedIn page says his title at Apple is VP-Apple Online Store, although the people familiar with the move did not confirm that.

Mr. Kupbens did not immediately respond to voicemails seeking comment.

In October, Apple hired Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as senior VP-sales and online retail, a position that Apple CEO Tim Cook created. E-Commerce is on the upswing for the company. Sales of "iTunes, Software and Services," the company's non-hardware products, were up 19% to $4.4 billion, according to first-quarter 2014 filings.

Mr. Kupbens joined Delta in 2010 and previously held posts at the consulting firm A.T. Kearney and Target, where he helped introduce the retailer's mobile e-commerce operations.

With the move to Apple, Mr. Kupbens is coming to a brand that millions of consumers hold very dear.

At the 2013 Ad Age Digital Conference, Mr. Kupbens spoke about the importance of "love brands." A consumer can only love five brands, he said -- and they don't typically include airlines:

"I used to work at Target and when you went to a cocktail party and you told people that you worked at Target, you know what they'd say?" he asked. "'I love Target! I'll give you a big hug!' You know what people say when you tell them at a cocktail party that you work at Delta? 'I hate you! You lost my bag! You had me on the tarmac for seven hours. I'm going to kill you!' It's different when you work for a love brand."

A Delta representative was unable to immediately provide comment.

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