Microsoft is going through some serious changes. The company is getting into the smartphone business by acquiring Nokia, CEO Steve Ballmer is leaving, and on top of that, Microsoft is completely changing its management and organizational structure.
But for now, though, the Xbox team is staying true to its roots as it prepares to launch its newest console this November.
On Tuesday at the Citi Global Technology Conference, Xbox chief marketing officer Yusef Mehdi was asked if the company’s big management changes will affect the direction of Xbox. Microsoft is reorganizing into four engineering sectors, with the Xbox team now in a group called Devices and Studios Engineering that includes hardware development work on all of Microsoft’s devices.
Mehdi said that it’s a “little bit yes and no,” and recalled a meeting with Ballmer three-to-four weeks ago to address this very issue. Ballmer, who is set to depart the company within 12 months, wanted to make sure that the re-org wasn’t having a detrimental effect on the work around Xbox One launch.
“[Ballmer] said, ‘Hey, you’re full steam ahead and if there are any issues with the re-org that you think will hamper anything, let me know right now because there are no excuses for you guys [not to be] doing your job and doing it well,’” Mehdi explained. “So we said, ‘OK, let’s go through with what we need to make sure that we deliver.’ So in that respect, our team is completely focused on that.”
Just days after former Xbox executive Don Mattrick left in July to become the CEO of Zynga, Ballmer announced the company’s reorg, which put former head of Windows engineering group Julie Larson-Green in charge of the new Devices and Studios Engineering team.
Mehdi did add that longer term, “of course we’re thinking about how we get more synergy between all our efforts.”
“We’re thinking about how two products come together, how does this operating system get more mainstream,” Mehdi said. “We are having those natural conversations, which are fantastic because it allows us to re-pivot and really think about a broader family of devices versus each individual device.”