Update: Valve Fires Hardware Guru

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Update: Valve Fires Hardware Guru

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Valve's Jeri Ellsworth is on the lookout for exiting new projects.

It's unsettling news from Valve's vaunted hardware shop: Jeri Ellsworth, one of its premier techies, is out the door. The pinball machines - part of Jeri's extensive collection - are in mourning; soon they'll be packed up and shipped out of Valve's corporate offices.

Only last September, Ellsworth was reported as working on bringing Valve's hardware into your living room. It's still not entirely clear what Valve hopes its hardware division will achieve; it went into hardware production because it was frustrated with the lack of innovation in the market, and Ellsworth - a renowned tinkerer - was one of Valve's most visible hardware people.

In fact, she's pretty much the reason why Valve has the hardware lab that it does. When the New York Times did a piece on Valve last September, it was Ellsworth who took the Times on a tour of the lab Valve had built, when it hired her. "At one point, I said a hardware lab could be very expensive, it could be like a million dollars," Ellsworth recalled, to which Gabe Newell responded, "That's it?"

No word yet from Ellsworth, or Valve, as to what happened, or what this might mean for Valve's hardware shop.

Source: Twitter

Update: unconfirmed reports suggest that the hardware and android projects division has suffered considerable staff layoffs; perhaps as many as twenty five jobs lost in all. Jason Holtman, Valve's business head, is also said to have left the company. Though there has been no confirmation from Valve, Holtman is no longer listed as an employee on Valve's staff page.

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People don't 'just get fired' from a company like that when they have such an important role.

I sense drama.

well, based on valve's technical nonexistent hierarchy, this sounds like...quite a few people were in favor of her leaving. Wonder what happened there.

You don't just 'get fired', especially at Valve.

She done goofed in one form or another.

After looking at her Wikipedia page, her history is full of not getting along with people.

Hannya:

I sense drama.

This most likely. Though it does interest me why she would suddenly be fired when she had such a visible presence in the hardware sector and apparently did her share of the work there. I'd understand it if the project she was a part of got finished and after that they'd decide to let her go, but this just seems plain fishy.

Constant problems with coworkers making this the only solution? Maybe the non-hierarchy, low structure work environment didn't suit her and she didn't get anything done?

Who knows.

...People can get fired from Valve? I assumed that was a lifetime commitment. Something must have happened :O

Wasn't she the person that was supposedly in charge of the VR projects they were working on? Please tell me that was someone else. I might just have to cry myself to sleep if it was her.

Very vague isn't it?

Although the fact that she started off with "Yup" seems like she knew she was going to get fired beforehand.

Alaways sucks when someone gets canned (Unless they were bad at their job). Hope she gets back in her feet quickly.

So what you're saying is: the design for the steam box is either finished or being developed out of house.

RicoGrey:
After looking at her Wikipedia page, her history is full of not getting along with people.

The only hint of that I could get out of her wiki-page was that she quit college after "about a year due to a "cultural mismatch"".. But yeah, I get a sense of there being some underlying drama behind this as well. Will be interesting to see what becomes of this.

CardinalPiggles:
Very vague isn't it?

Although the fact that she started off with "Yup" seems like she knew she was going to get fired beforehand.

She tweeted: "Wow. I suddenly have a lot of spare time." a couple of hours earlier. But again: Yes. That seems to be the case.

DVS BSTrD:
So what you're saying is: the design for the steam box is either finished or being developed out of house.

It's certainly an option, but I do think that Valve would have more than one person working on such a project.

its a company, they also can fire people for some reason.
i dont get all that "SHE GOT EXILED FROM THE HEAVENS" shock that is in this thread.

maybe she got fired because they dont want to continue a project and her job is redundant?

so just wait and see.

rhizhim:
maybe she got fired because they dont want to continue a project and her job is redundant?

That's a layoff. "Fired" implies she was let go for cause.

Artistic differences I guess, no doubt shes an exciting solo career ahead of her.

Valve doesn't fire people just because a project is completed. They are however quite liberal with the whole firing business if someone doesn't work out (otherwise they'd end up with a shitton of useless people). (source is from the latest talk Gabe did at some university)

Maybe a tad to eccentric for the job?

Fasckira:
Artistic differences I guess, no doubt shes an exciting solo career ahead of her.

She's not an artist though.
She's pretty opinionated and headstrong, so maybe she rubbed people the wrong way too much, or something.

Mromson:
(source is from the latest talk Gabe did at some university)

This. Gaben said himself that he had to be very "Aggressive" when it comes to firing people that weren't cut out for the business structure.

It just kind of happens when you don't meet the expected progress Da Boss has in mind when you're on a project.

Ah, time to gear up for a thread full of rampant speculation. Although I suspect she was just difficult to work with and she got too many people angry with her. Pretty much the only ways to get fired at VALVE are to be useless and lazy, to anger everyone around you, to not mesh with their unusual structure (although these people more often just quit), or to do something highly bad/stupid/dangerous/illegal/stupid (repeat for emphasis). Without formal job titles, she wouldn't have gotten taken out for redundancy or because they were canceling or finished with the Steam Box, simply asked to do another job.

P.S. Thanks

ZippyDSMlee:
Maybe a tad to eccentric for the job?

"Too?"
Valve, at it's very core, is absurdly eccentric. Maybe she wasn't motivated?
From what I've seen, the business structure is: Do stuff you want to do.
Chances are, it's more she just wasn't motivated, if my guess is anywhere close to correct, though I know relatively little about Valves business structure.

RicoGrey:
After looking at her Wikipedia page, her history is full of not getting along with people.

Yes, this does seem to be the case, and because it appears that Valve is heavily community oriented that wouldn't be a very good match for either.

Jesus, being fired from Valve certainly doesn't put you in a good light.

They fired her because she was secretly in charge of Half-Life 3 development. After years of "Don't worry, GabeN, it's almost done." he got tired of her shit, killed her, hacked her twitter account, and posted a sad message about being fired.

True story.

wackymon:

ZippyDSMlee:
Maybe a tad to eccentric for the job?

"Too?"
Valve, at it's very core, is absurdly eccentric. Maybe she wasn't motivated?
From what I've seen, the business structure is: Do stuff you want to do.
Chances are, it's more she just wasn't motivated, if my guess is anywhere close to correct, though I know relatively little about Valves business structure.

Their are some people in this word who cannot work for anyone else. There are only so many times that billionaire business men will tolerate people arguing with their decisions. I doesn't matter if you are right or wrong, if the guy with 0000000s to his name says "I want to you to do this way", then you do it that way or get fired. Jeri Ellsworth may have been the most motivated person on the planet but when you work for someone you have to accept that they have the final say. You can dress up a management structure in what ever way you want, but Gabe is still the boss and its not a relationship between equals. Glancing at Ellsworth's wiki page she seams to have a problem accepting that some one else has that final say.

You lot do know she wasn't the only one layed off right.

I think it'll be pretty interesting to hear how all this panned out. It seems kind of off. :/

Apparently its not just her.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/186592/Several_out_of_work_as_Valve_makes_large_decisions_about_its_future.php#.URvkVmecVFu

I wonder whats happened, since something must be going on.

mgirl:
Apparently its not just her.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/186592/Several_out_of_work_as_Valve_makes_large_decisions_about_its_future.php#.URvkVmecVFu

I wonder whats happened, since something must be going on.

If the count really does come to around 20-25, maybe Valve is just not having as much of an economical good time as we thought

mgirl:
Apparently its not just her.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/186592/Several_out_of_work_as_Valve_makes_large_decisions_about_its_future.php#.URvkVmecVFu

I wonder whats happened, since something must be going on.

I just read that, as well. Something's happened and, whatever it is, it doesn't seem to bode well for ValvE. Not in the least.

mgirl:
Apparently its not just her.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/186592/Several_out_of_work_as_Valve_makes_large_decisions_about_its_future.php#.URvkVmecVFu

I wonder whats happened, since something must be going on.

Huh, this does indeed make it much more interesting. But easier to hazard a guess at what's going on.
I would expect this to mean that financial difficulties have forced Valve to cut their expenses. Which would mean that hardware development and projects for things not directly linking to Steam will be shut down by priority.

Note that I am speculating wildly and am probably wrong in my assumptions.

I've seen before that Valve tends to be very discreet in what goes on in it's offices. Mostly due to what TVTropes likes to call "Fan Dumb". So it's likely we won't hear the entire story from anyone. The most you'll get is the story from Ms Ellsworth and nothing from anyone else.

That being said, knowing how their consumerbase works...

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http://www.develop-online.net/news/43261/Jason-Holtman-leaves-Valve

WTF is happening there. Did Gabe go crazy. Should we panic? Should I panic? What is my WORLD?!

I wonder if its something to do with this
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/121945-John-Carmack-Argues-Against-Native-Linux-Games

If the guy from id says that Linux native games aren't going to work perhaps it has caused a major rethink.

Yal:

rhizhim:
maybe she got fired because they dont want to continue a project and her job is redundant?

That's a layoff. "Fired" implies she was let go for cause.

like others mentioned, other people were fired too.

i think that valve is rethinking of bringing out either the steam box or the vr googles.

and either way, being laid off still requires you to be fired.

edit: yep, i guesed it right:

Gamasutra has also reported up to 25 employees may have also been let go from the company, mainly in the hardware and Android development divisions.

VanQQisH:
Wasn't she the person that was supposedly in charge of the VR projects they were working on? Please tell me that was someone else. I might just have to cry myself to sleep if it was her.

since vavle didnt have any sort of hardware division before, i would certainly say that she had quite some fingers in the VR googles project...

also read again:

In fact, she's pretty much the reason why Valve has the hardware lab that it does. When the New York Times did a piece on Valve last September, it was Ellsworth who took the Times on a tour of the lab Valve had built, when it hired her. "At one point, I said a hardware lab could be very expensive, it could be like a million dollars," Ellsworth recalled, to which Gabe Newell responded, "That's it?"

but dont cry. be strong!

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