Marc Whitten, Xbox Chief Product Officer and Corporate Vice President, is leaving for a new job as Chief Product Officer of Sonos.
Whitten acknowledged his planned departure in an Xbox Wire blog post on March 17. The remainder of the Xbox leadership team will remain intact and Whitten’s team will report to Microsoft's unified operating system chief Terry Myerson, the blog post said.
I asked Sonos earlier today if Whitten was joining the company and never received a response.
Whitten joined Microsoft in 1997 and worked on the Windows 2000 team. He joined the Xbox team in 2000, working his way up through a variety of management positions. Until 2010, he was the Corporate Vice President of Xbox Live.
As Chief Product officer for Xbox, Whitten "defined and delivered the product plan for the ambitious Xbox One program," according to his very up-to-date LinkedIn profile. He also helped spearhead Xbox Smartglass and the Kinect program for Xbox 360, his profile says.
Word of Whitten's departure comes at a crucial time for Microsoft and Xbox.
Today is opening day of the Game Developers Conference, where Microsoft is planning to disclose plans for its DirectX 12 interface. Last week, Microsoft was trumpeting the launch of Titanfall, one of its flagship games for the Xbox One.
Meanwhile, there is continued pressure from some Wall Street analysts for Microsoft to sell off the Xbox unit. The Xbox One is in a pitched battle with Sony's just introduced PS4.
Following the "One Microsoft" reorganization last July, some pieces of Xbox -- the operating system and Xbox Live service -- were moved to the new unified Windows division under Myerson. Other pieces, namely the console and the Xbox Studios division, went to Microsoft's Devices & Studios unit. That hardware/games unit is currently headed by Julie Larson-Green, but soon will be taken over by Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO who is rejoining Microsoft once Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's handset business is official.
There is some uncertainty inside the company -- in spite of executive denials of plans to sell off the Xbox unit -- as to how committed Microsoft management is to Xbox, my sources have said. There's also worry by some that Microsoft's new org structure, which divides Xbox between two different divisions, may not be optimal.