One of the parents of the Xbox One is leaving Microsoft.
Marc Whitten, the architect of the company’s latest home gaming console, is leaving Microsoft to take on the role of chief product officer at consumer-electronics firm Sonos. This marks the end of a 14-year tenure for Whitten at Microsoft. In addition to the Xbox One, he also worked on the Xbox 360 and the original Xbox.
The rest of the Xbox hardware and software team will remain intact and will report to Microsoft executive vice president Terry Myerson, who is also overseeing the development of user experience on Windows and Windows Phone.
“I have had the extreme pleasure over the last 14 years to work on the greatest product with the greatest team and for the greatest community,” said Whitten. “Xbox is so special because of the amazing team I’ve had the opportunity to work with and because our fans are the most incredible fans on the planet. It has been the highlight of my career to work on a product so loved. It’s incredibly tough to leave but I am confident the best days are ahead for Xbox fans, in the capable hands of a very talented team.”
Whitten not only oversaw the development of the Xbox One hardware and software, he was also the face of the system. Microsoft often trotted him out alongside Xbox marketing boss Yusuf Mehdi to explain the features or to do interviews with the press.
“Marc played a pivotal role in building the Xbox business over the last 14 years and has been a great partner for me personally,” said Mehdi “Marc has built a very strong and passionate team that has delivered innovative technology for game and entertainment fans. Our fans will continue to inspire us to do great work on their behalf.”
Whitten and Microsoft launched Xbox in November, but it was clear that the system wasn’t quite finished at that time. It was missing major features like the promised broadcasting through livestreaming site Twitch (which just launched on March 11) and obvious user-interface items like a controller battery indicator (which appeared in a February update). Most recently, Whitten wrote a blog post for Microsoft about the Xbox One’s major March update that seemed to deliver all the features that the company originally promised.
With those updates out of the way, Whitten had an opening to move on to something different with a bigger title.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Marc for more than a decade and he has always led Xbox forward with a focus on our fans and delivering a platform that developers and creators can embrace to deliver incredible entertainment,” Microsoft Studios boss Phil Spencer said. “We wish Marc well, while looking forward to the next chapter of Xbox.”
At Sonos, Whitten will have the opportunity to work on the company’s famous multiroom music systems. The company is known for creating high-quality connected sound devices that work well with the Internet. The company was founded in 2002 in Santa Barbara, Calif.
This comes less than two weeks after Sony Computer Entertainment America’s Jack Tretton — the North American PlayStation boss — left his post after 19 years with the multimedia conglomerate.
Whitten was originally supposed to hold a “fireside chat” at the ongoing Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Friday with Gamasutra editor Kris Graft. Spencer is now the scheduled speaker for that event.
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