Xbox Chief Product Officer Marc Whitten is going to Sonos

Xbox Chief Product Officer Marc Whitten is going to Sonos

Summary: Microsoft Xbox veteran Marc Whitten is leaving the company and joining Sonos.

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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.

markwhitten

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.

Topics: Leadership, Microsoft, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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9 comments
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  • Big blow for Xbox

    This seems like a pretty big blow to the brand. Back with all the Xbox 180 craziness of last summer, Whitten stood out me as the one that dealt with the press the best. I wonder if he will be replaced or if his position will just disappear like Mattrick's did.
    Scott Simpson87
  • Solving XBox

    It's very easy to fix the Xbox: Just implement the obvious ways to control a mouse pointer through Kinect and run full Windows 9 RT (hand pointing resp head tilting).
    Oh, and bring back all that promised online store stuff that was scrapped, but allow the console to work for at least a month without internet, and allow sideloading other stores like Android does - that will address all user concerns.
    Until they do this or something similar, my judgement of any XBox PM isn't that favorable.
    Sacr
    • Android Games on XB1

      I will fully agree that it would be very nice if they cut a deal with Google to allow Android games to be downloaded and ran on XB1. It could emulate Android without breaking a sweat and you have the great controller. Games would need to be modified, but I bet all of the good devs would build in options for XB1 control.
      CCollinsRadio
      • In a friendly world where there wasn't so much hate of MS by Google

        that idea would be great. However, Google is not a friendly player in the Microsoft world, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
        grayknight
  • Losing a lot of top talent

    That can't be good.
    symbolset
  • Oh man...

    I have a Sonos and its a great piece of kit I hope this guy doesnt drag the name down like the xbox name
    Bladeforce
  • Is this another Elop story?

    In other words, do we expect Microsoft to take over Sonos soon and bring Whitten back through the back door?
    jaykayess
    • Pleaaaase Nooooo

      Whatever happens don't let MS acquire Sonos. They'll break it like they are breaking xbox, skype, and other consumer products. I like my Sonos the way it is - working!
      Anonymous45
  • Integration, consolidation

    Xbox will most likely be absorbed into other areas and management split up. Win9, Surface 3 with the K1 processor appears to be the threshold of a new era in computing.
    primartcloud