J Allard and Robbie Bach Leaving Microsoft

Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division is receiving a massive shake-up, thanks to both its President and Chief Technology Officer are leaving the company.


It seems like rumors of a huge corporate reorganizing at Microsoft are true, since it’s been revealed that Robbie Bach and J Allard leaving the company.

Not only that, but Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division is going to be reporting to CEO Steve Ballmer for the foreseeable future, meaning that the man will have direct oversight on anything associated with either Xbox consoles or Windows phones.

Last week, rumors popped up on the net about Allard’s possible departure, with sources citing the sudden cancellation of the Courier as his motivation. For those of you who haven’t heard of it before now, the Courier was a rumored dual-screen tablet PC that Microsoft was supposedly working on, but it was abandoned by the company in April.

According to Engadget, though, this rumor is untrue: “Allard says that he’s not leaving due to the cancellation of the Courier, but instead says that after nineteen years with the company, he simply wants to devote more time to his personal interests, ‘particularly adventure sports.’ Allard also insists that he won’t be moving on to Apple, Google or any other Microsoft rivals — in fact, he’s staying on as an advisor to Steve Ballmer.”

Robbie Bach’s exit, however, is fresh news that was revealed via a company-wide email from Ballmer to Microsoft’s employees. At first glance, the whole thing sounds like Bach was ousted as a part of corporate restructuring, but TechFlash was able to speak to the man and clear some things up. According to the site, Bach chose to leave on his own and will be sticking around through the Fall to help out with the leadership changes.

We’ll have to wait and see if Ballmer’s hands-on leadership is a good thing for the division, but the man has some big shoes to fill.

Below is Ballmer’s email:

From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 11:01 AM
To: Microsoft – All Employees (QBDG)
Subject: Executive Leadership Transitions

After almost 22 years with the company, Robbie Bach has decided to retire from Microsoft. I have worked with Robbie during his entire tenure at Microsoft, and count him as both a friend and a great business partner and leader. Robbie has always had great timing, and is going out on a high note – this has been a phenomenal year for E&D overall, and with the coming launches of both Windows Phone 7 and “Project Natal,” the rest of the year looks stupendous as well. While we are announcing Robbie’s retirement today, he will remain here through the fall, ensuring we have a smooth transition.

Concurrent with Robbie’s retirement, I am making several organization changes to ensure we have the right leaders in the right positions as we set ourselves up for the next big wave of products and services. Effective July 1, Don Mattrick, who leads our interactive entertainment business, and Andy Lees, who leads our mobile communications business, will report directly to me. Don and Andy have built out strong leadership teams and product pipelines, and are well-positioned for the years ahead.

Independent of Robbie’s decision, J Allard (currently serving as senior vice president of Design and Development for E&D), will also be leaving Microsoft. Given his ongoing passion and commitment to Microsoft, he will remain as an advisor to me, helping incubation efforts, looking at design and UI, and providing a cross-company perspective on these and similar topics. With J’s change in role, corporate vice president David Treadwell will join IEB to lead the core technology organization, reporting to Don. David has a great set of accomplishments at Microsoft, most recently working on the Windows Live Platform Services team. Over the next several months, Robbie and I will work together to finalize reporting and structure for the rest of his org.

Now that Office 2010 has been launched to business customers, Antoine Leblond, senior vice president in the Office Productivity Applications Group, will take a new role as senior vice president for the Windows Web Services team. This team brings together the integral Windows services that today deliver updates, solutions, community and depth information for the Windows consumer. Kurt DelBene, senior vice president in the Office Business Productivity Group, will take on all of the engineering responsibilities for the Office business.

Transitions are always hard. Robbie has been an instrumental part of so many key moments in Microsoft history – from the evolution of Office to the decision to create the first Xbox to pushing the company hard in entertainment overall. J as well has had a great impact in the market and on our culture, providing leadership in design, and in creating a passionate and involved Xbox community, and earlier being at the center of our work seizing the importance of the Web for the company. But most important, both have been great team builders with a strong record of attracting, coaching and growing talent. As a result, their teams are primed to continue to step up and deliver great products, great services and great results for the company. Don has led the Interactive Entertainment Business since July 2007, where he’s significantly grown our entertainment footprint as well as our profitability. He can count as successes the evolution of Xbox Live, the launch of blockbusters like “Halo 3” and the much-anticipated “Project Natal.” Previously, Don was president of Electronic Arts Worldwide Studios. Andy has led the Mobile Communications Business since February, 2008, and has been instrumental in reinvigorating our mobility efforts, bringing in new business and development talent and overseeing the creation of both KIN and Windows Phone 7.

As we finalize and ship so many of our key products (“Project Natal,” Windows Phone 7, Office 2010, Windows Live Wave 4 and others) it is a natural time for us to look ahead and make sure we have the right talent in the right roles to fuel our next set of offerings. I am confident that the changes above will set us up well for the months and years ahead.

I want to close by thanking Robbie for the incalculable contributions he has made to Microsoft over the years. He will be greatly missed when he retires this fall, and I am glad that I’ll have the opportunity to continue working closely with him between now and then. And as J makes a similar transition, I look forward to working with him in a new way.


Source: TechFlash via Engadget
(Image courtesy of Engadget)

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