The New Xbox Boss is a Man Who Wanted to Sell It Off
When Microsoft was looking for a new CEO late last year and earlier this year, the name Stephen Elop, former CEO of Nokia, was one of the name that kept popping up as a favourite. Bloomberg reported that part of Elop’s pitch for the job was that he would sell off parts of the business that weren’t part of the company’s core strategy, including the Xbox division.
So guess who was just named the new boss of Microsoft’s Devices Division, the division that Xbox falls under in the Microsoft corporate umbrella? On Wednesday, Stephen Elop was announced as the Devices and Studios Division’s third boss in seven months, replacing current head Julie Larson-Green.
Prior to this announcement, Elop was on the reported shortlist to replace Steve Ballmer as Microsoft’s CEO. Instead, Microsoft appointed Satya Nadella, who was Microsoft’s President of Server & Tools division and Executive VP of the Cloud & Enterprise group, as CEO.
While Nadella is a firm supporter of the Xbox division and despite the division’s profitability, Elop reportedly wants rid of the same Xbox division that he is currently in charge of. He’s not the only one who wants Microsoft to drop some divisions. As we mentioned in the Geek Links a couple of week ago, some important investors, even the investment manager for Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, think that Microsoft should drop Xbox, among other divisions.
If you look back Elop’s corporate history, you’re looking at a history of corporate sales and failures. Elop’s first senior executive job was as CIO of Boston Chicken (AKA Boston Market) which entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy during his tenure before being sold to McDonald’s two years after he left. He joined Macromedia and rose the ranks to CEO three months before the company was sold to Adobe.
After stops at Juniper Networks and Microsoft’s Business Division (known for Microsoft Office and Dynamics), he became the CEO of Nokia which saw revenues and profits plummet before Nokia’s mobile division was sold to Microsoft.
If you were to look at Elop’s history in the C-suite, you wouldn’t call it wildly successful. In fact, apart from his stint at Microsoft’s Business Division (where it is almost impossible to fail), it hasn’t been particularly pretty. I’d say that his track record is one where the Xbox division would end up being sold off if his trend of lack of success continues.
While it’s doubtful the Elop would be allowed to make major changes to the Devices and Studios Division given that Microsoft’s CEO is a supporter of the division, the risk remains. I don’t know if anyone, apart from a venture capital firm, would be willing to buy Microsoft’s Xbox or Surface divisions if they were sold off. Whether you’re an Xbox fan or not, keeping them in the Microsoft family is best for competition and competition is in the best interests of consumers.