Microsoft today announced 3 new division presidents ostensibly to fill the voids left by the departures of Robbie Bach (Entertainment and Devices) and Stephen Elop (Business). However, it mostly looks like the temporary scheme which had the former direct reports to the division presidents reporting to Steve Ballmer has been institutionalized with some promotions:
In a statement this morning, the company said it is naming Kurt DelBene to head the Microsoft Office Division, Don Mattrick to head the Interactive Entertainment Business, and Andy Lees to head the Mobile Communications Business, effectively leaving things as they have been following the departure of Stephen Elop (who was named Nokia CEO last month) and the announced retirement of Robbie Bach.
DelBene’s group, which is focused on the Office set of products, is somewhat narrower in focus than the one vacated by Elop, which also included the Microsoft Dynamics line of customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning products for midsize businesses. The Dynamics business will continue to be headed by Kirill Tatarinov, who will report to Ballmer.
The moves essentially leave all of Microsoft’s businesses in largely the same hands they have been in. Lees and Mattrick have been running their units since Bach announced plans to retire in May. Following Elop’s departure, DelBene has been jointly running Office with fellow executives Chris Capossela and unit CFO Amy Hood. Capossela, the longtime head of Office marketing, and Hood will remain in their roles, reporting to DelBene.
And even more evidence that there is less here than meets the eye: the five business unit financial reporting structure will stay the same.
Microsoft today announced the acquisition on unspecified terms of game development company BigPark:
Microsoft Corp. today announced its intent to acquire BigPark Inc., an interactive online gaming company based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The acquisition will bring BigPark’s talented developers into Microsoft Game Studios, where the team will continue development on an exclusive Xbox 360 game. Over the past year, Microsoft and BigPark have worked closely on this project, providing Microsoft with a clear view into the caliber of talent and innovation at BigPark.
Actually, the relationship was even closer than that:
BigPark was founded by Wil Mozell, Erik Kiss, Hanno Lemke and Don Mattrick before Mattrick assumed the role of senior vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. Mattrick’s role as an investor in BigPark was fully disclosed to Microsoft before he joined the company, and his ongoing involvement as chairman of BigPark was approved pursuant to the Microsoft Standards of Business Conduct.
This investment is interesting in view of the way Microsoft has been pruning game developers in recent years including the demise of the Flight Simulator studio in January with the first round of layoffs this year.
The Electronic Arts executive swap with Microsoft continues as Microsoft today announced that “John Schappert, most recently executive vice president at Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), will be joining the Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) in a newly created position as corporate vice president of LIVE, software and services.”
The official announcement says ”Peter Moore Resigns From Microsoft to Return to Northern California,” but the head honcho on Microsoft’s struggling Xbox gaming console has in fact gone to Electronic Arts as head of EA Sports reporting to CEO John Riccitiello. Apparently the deal was done last month, but delayed until Microsoft could select a replacement.
In a bit of industry musical chairs, that replacement is the former president of Electronic Arts Worldwide, Don Mattrick, who joined Microsoft as an advisor back in February. Mattrick will take over as the senior vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB), which includes the Xbox and Games for Windows businesses, on July 30. He certainly has his work cut out for him and while there’s little hope he can ever make the Xbox look like it was a good Microsoft investment, his immediate goal must be to at least start making a profit on it.