Microsoft is splitting its HoloLens mixed reality group and splitting with Alex Kipman, the group’s leader who was the subject of a recent article insider Story that cited him as an example of “toxic” behavior within the company.
The reorganization was announced in an internal email Tuesday night, which will see the company’s Mixed Reality Hardware group merged into the Windows & Devices organization and the Mixed Reality Presence and Collaboration group merged into the Microsoft Teams organization in the Experiences & Devices division has been moved.
Scott Guthrie, the head of Microsoft’s Cloud & AI Group, said in the email that the changes “will align and further accelerate our overall Metaverse efforts as a company in the coming fiscal year.”
Towards the end of the email, after describing the organizational changes, Guthrie wrote: “Over the past few months, Alex Kipman and I have been discussing the team’s future path. We decided together that this is the right time for him to leave the company to pursue other interests.”
Guthrie added, “I appreciate the tremendous vision Alex has provided to Microsoft over the years and everything he has done to advance our Metaverse offerings. Alex is committed to supporting the teams in the transition process over the next two months and ensuring success before pursuing the next steps for him.”
May 25th insider Reporter Ashley Stewart’s story began with an anecdote in which Kipman was seen meeting with other employees at Microsoft in what one employee later described on the site as VR porn.
The report detailed a pattern of allegedly inappropriate behavior by Kipman toward women at the company, including unwanted touching, as an example of misconduct by Microsoft executives and said it got away with it despite pledges from CEO Satya Nadella and other top executives to initiate cultural changes .
Microsoft has not commented on the report’s details, and GeekWire has not independently verified it. The company frequently makes organizational changes in connection with the fiscal year beginning on July 1st.
Kipman joined Microsoft in 2001. He is a Technical Fellow and is known for inventing products such as the HoloLens Mixed Reality headset and the Kinect motion controller for Xbox.
Here’s the full text of Guthrie’s email, pulled from GeekWire.
Today I’m announcing some organizational changes within Cloud + AI.
The Mixed Reality team delivers Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) products and solutions, including HoloLens, IVAS and our Microsoft Mesh service, which are key elements of all of Microsoft’s Metaverse work.
The team has made great strides in our mixed reality work over the past year, achieving two important milestones in the past month:
• Our collaboration with the US Army and the IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System) project to build a next-generation solution where every soldier will use a mixed reality headset has been officially approved by the US Army for entry Approved into the Operational Test (OT) phase. This is a major milestone for the team and the culmination of years of hard work.
• At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Microsoft and our partner Accenture introduced an immersive experience built with our new Microsoft Mesh SDK, allowing end users to meet in a trusted Metaverse space and collaborate on global issues such as sustainability. The experience was very well received with great feedback from attendees and we now have tremendous demand from customers looking to build similar experiences.
These are important milestones on our journey to build even richer mixed reality hardware devices, as well as the underlying software collaboration platform, to enable more immersive Metaverse experiences.
Accelerating and aligning Microsoft’s work on the Metaverse going forward
Today we are making some organizational changes that will align and continue to accelerate our overall Metaverse efforts as a company in the coming fiscal year.
Mixed Reality Hardware teams will join the Windows + Devices organization
Grace Hwang, Ruben Caballero, Scott Evans, Ashraf Mikhail, David Mara and the mixed reality hardware teams they lead are responsible for designing and delivering transformative mixed reality hardware products. This includes both our HoloLens and IVAS projects.
With today’s announcement, they will join the Windows + Devices (W+D) organization Panos Panay. This move will integrate our mixed reality hardware teams as part of Microsoft’s broader hardware organization for end-user devices. Both HoloLens and IVAS are built using Windows, and this move further aligns our client platform efforts.
Mixed reality presence and collaboration teams will join the Teams organization
Carlos Aguilar, Miguel Sufalich, Nikhil Subramanian and the teams they lead are responsible for delivering the next generation of mixed reality presence and collaboration services, including our new Microsoft Mesh offering.
With today’s announcement, they will join the Teams organization within the Experiences + Devices division Jeff Teper. This move will strengthen and further integrate Microsoft’s collaborative efforts. Creating compelling metaverse collaboration experiences – especially in teams – is critical, and the Microsoft Mesh SDK is increasingly becoming an integral component in making this possible.
Alex Kipman to leave the company and pursue other opportunities
in the last few months, Alex Kippman and I talked about the way forward for the team. We decided together that this is the right time for him to leave the company to pursue other tasks. I appreciate the tremendous vision Alex has provided to Microsoft over the years and everything he has done to advance our Metaverse offerings. Alex is committed to supporting the teams in the transition process over the next two months and ensuring success before pursuing the next steps for him.
I really appreciate the significant contributions that the mixed reality team has made over the past few years. The work they do will enable amazing products and rich applications that will transform the way we communicate, work and learn in the future.
These changes are effective immediately and will accelerate business growth and build leadership. I’m really looking forward to the progress the new combined teams will make over the coming year.