Looks like the rumors I heard last week are true: Chief Experience Officer J Allard seems to have left the building (at least according to those infamous "people familiar with the matter" who will whisper to big media with the promise of anonymity).
Those same whisperers are telling the Wall Street Journal that Microsoft is going to shake up the Entertainment and Devices (E&D) division via some kind of reorg, as well. It's unclear if this reorg means brand-new management gets brought in or the deck chairs get rearranged.
Update: Both Allard and E&D President Robbie Bach are out. Wow. And Bach is not being replaced. More to come on that....
E&D is responsible for Windows Phone operating systems, the newly launched Kin phones, games, Xbox, Zune and Mediaroom IPTV. Robbie Bach is currently the President of the E&D unit. E&D has been losing money, for the most part, in spite of strong sales of the Xbox Live gaming service. The unit is pinning its hopes for 2010 on Project Natal, the new gaming control technology that Microsoft is expected to highlight at next week's E3 conference.
Allard, who was awarded the Chief Experience Officer title back in 2008, was most recently overseeing Microsoft's recently canceled Courier tablet project.
Microsoft has been tweaking E&D since the start of the year. In January, Microsoft reorg’d the TV, Video and Media (TVM) group, which was headed by Corporate Vice President Enrique Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s core teams — Zune software/services, Mediaroom IPTV, Media Center — were moved to Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB), which is also part of Entertainment and Devices. IEB is the unit in charge of Xbox, Games for Windows and Microsoft Game Studios.
(I heard Rodriguez left the company as part of the shake-up. Microsoft never changed his bio on its corporate Web site.)
Earlier this month, Microsoft quietly added a new manager to its E&D roster: Achim Berg. Berg, the former General Manager of Microsoft Germany, was named Corporate Vice President of Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business and Marketing Group. Berg is the head of worldwide sales for Windows Phone 7 and the Kin. Corporate Vice President of Premium Mobile Services (and the head of the Kin team) Roz Ho and Corporate Vice President of Microsoft's Mobile Communications Marketing Group Todd Peters both report to Berg.
I also noted last week that Todd Holmdahl just got a new title: Corporate Vice President, Interactive Entertainment Business, Incubation. His new job description cites him as "one of the founding fathers of the Xbox brand." (Allard, who managed technical development of the Xbox, is considered by many as the real father of Microsoft's gaming console.)
Rumors are flying right now as to what the E&D shake-up will entail. Is Bach out? Will Microsoft split E&D and move part of that unit to another division? (There were some rumors earlier this year that the phone operating system team might be moved to Windows client -- something I still think would be pretty crazy, but who knows?)
I'm interested who Microsoft will attempt to position as the new "boy genius" -- the new black-t-shirt-wearing innovator influencing its E&D business.