Apple’s top executive in charge of cloud initiatives, including iCloud and the infrastructure for services like iMessage and FaceTime, is leaving the company, adding to a wave of recent departures.

The executive, Michael Abbott, is stepping down in April, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the move isn’t public. Abbott will be the second top lieutenant to services chief Eddy Cue to leave this year, joining a growing list of company vice presidents who have departed the iPhone maker in late 2022 and early 2023.

Abbott’s exit leaves a major hole in one of the company’s most critical divisions. As Apple’s vice president of cloud engineering, he’s in charge of the service, iCloud Mail and new features like iCloud data encryption. He also runs the company’s platform that powers iCloud, key communication services, the Find My feature and Emergency SOS on iPhones.

A spokesman for Cupertino, California-based company declined to comment.

The executive is one of a handful of Cue’s direct reports, a list that includes the heads of Apple TV+ content, music, financial services, maps, advertising and productivity apps. He also runs CloudKit, a service that developers can use to power third-party apps, and software offerings for both education and enterprise users. And he’s in charge of privacy and security engineering for Apple’s services.

The cloud services group had invested heavily in building an infrastructure to power its offerings. But more recently, the company has pared back that effort in favour of using servers hosted by Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. Abbott’s group oversees a custom layer that sits on top of that infrastructure to optimise it for Apple’s offerings.

In recent years, Abbott has hired several cloud industry leaders to bolster Apple’s operations, but the integration of the new talent hasn’t gone as smoothly as some within the company had hoped, people familiar with the effort said.

Peter Stern, the other Cue deputy to leave this year, departed at the end of January. He was widely seen as a possible successor to Cue and ran many components of the company’s services business, including subscriptions and business matters for Apple TV+ and Apple News, as well as marketing across the services portfolio.

Abbott has held his role for five years. He joined Apple in 2018 after serving as an investor at venture capital giant Kleiner Perkins and an executive at Twitter, Microsoft and Palm. Apple employee shares vest in April, when Abbott plans to depart.

Beyond the departures of Abbott and Stern, Apple has recently lost executives in charge of industrial design, its online store, information systems, procurement, and parts of its hardware and software engineering divisions.

Apple has struggled in some cases to find successors, leading it to reshuffle roles. It chose not to name new privacy and design chiefs and split up the responsibilities of departing executives among remaining leaders.

Still, the company has had some success recruiting new executives. Its first chief people officer, Carol Surface, is joining Apple from Medtronic this month.  — Bloomberg