Microsoft said that longtime Xbox exec Marc Whitten — part of the team that launched the company’s first videogame console — is leaving as chief product officer of the division to join wireless-speaker vendor Sonos in the same role.
Whitten, who joined the Xbox team in 2000, is departing after last fall’s launch of Xbox One and the debut last week of “Titanfall,” a major new first-person shooter title for the system developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts.
According to Microsoft, Whitten’s current team will report to Terry Myerson, the Microsoft executive VP who oversees the teams building the software platform and experiences for Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox.
“Marc played a pivotal role in building the Xbox business over the last 14 years and has been a great partner for me personally,” Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s corporate VP of strategy and marketing, said in a blog post Monday. “Marc has built a very strong and passionate team that has delivered innovative technology for game and entertainment fans.”
Whitten spearheaded the launch of the original Xbox in 2001, taking on Sony’s PlayStation, as well as the second-generation Xbox 360 and the newest family member, the Xbox One. He also was instrumental in building the Xbox Live content and gaming service, which now counts 48 million members in 41 countries, according to Microsoft.
Whitten’s departure comes after Don Mattrick, former president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, left the company last summer to become CEO of social-gaming company Zynga.
In a statement provided by Microsoft, Whitten said, “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.”
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