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Ballmer the Xbox One Boss while company looks for leadership

by William Schwartz

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Today it was announced that Don Mattrick would be leaving Microsoft for a new job as the head of Zynga.  Apparently, the move has caught Microsoft off guard, as the company does not have an immediate replacement for the departed executive.  In the meantime, Steve Ballmer will oversee the Xbox division in the months heading into the launch of the Xbox One.

Ballmer recently shared an email with the team at Microsoft, where he outlines the company’s plans to continue to “redefine the entertainment industry”.

Ballmer’s memo to Microsoft

“Zynga announced today that Don Mattrick would be its new CEO, effective July 8. This is a great opportunity for Don, and I wish him success. Don’s directs will report to me and will continue to drive the day-to-day business as a team, particularly focused on shipping Xbox One this holiday.

Since joining IEB more than six years ago, Don and his team have accomplished much. Xbox Live members grew from 6 million to 48 million. Xbox 360 became the No. 1 selling console in North America the past two years. We introduced Kinect and have sold more than 24 million sensors. We released fantastic games, and, most importantly, we expanded Xbox to go beyond great gaming to deliver all the entertainment people want — sports, music, movies, live television and much more.

In the past month, the IEB team showed for the first time here on our Redmond campus, and again at E3, how we are going to continue to transform entertainment with Xbox One. I am incredibly proud of the work and vision culminating in Xbox One.

I’m particularly excited about how Xbox pushes forward our devices and services transformation by bringing together the best of Microsoft. The consoles are incredible all-in-one devices with built-in services that consumers love, including Bing, Xbox Live, Internet Explorer, SkyDrive and Skype. And, just as important, Xbox Games, Xbox Video, Xbox Music and SmartGlass light up Windows PCs, tablets and phones.

Thank you, Don, for setting us on a path to completely redefine the entertainment industry. The strong leadership team at IEB and their teams are well positioned to deliver the next-generation entertainment console, as well as transformative entertainment experiences, long into the future.”

It’s worth noting that this is unlikely to be a long term situation for Ballmer.  As the interim boss of Xbox, those who previously reported to Don Mattrick will now do so to the CEO.  Some lucky guy or gal will step into Mattrick’s shoes in the coming weeks, and it’s anyone’s guess who Microsoft will have running the show.  Savor your Mattrick moments from previous Xbox press conferences, you won’t be seeing them any longer.  On the bright side, you might see this at some point.

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