The rumors were true, and last week Microsoft made it official. Phil Harrison, the head of Xbox Europe and a corporate vice president, has left the company. Microsoft gave him a warm sendoff, including tweets from Xbox chief Phil Spencer, and now word is coming out that while Harrison is left, he may still be deeply involved in new Microsoft technologies.
According to a post over at GameIndustry.biz, who first broke the news of his departure, Harrison is founding a new startup, with the unlikely and "deliberately meaningless" name Alloy Platform Industries. The new company is in "stealth mode", where it may stay for some time, according to Harrison:
We're in stealth mode at the moment, we'll stay in stealth mode for a while. It's very exciting, and something I've been planning for a little over a year, in full consultation and collaboration with Microsoft, specifically with Phil Spencer. I'm taking a plunge into the start-up pool.
More specifically, Harrison revealed to GameIndustry.biz that the new company has "licensed some technology from Microsoft which will form the basis of our initial investigations and explorations", unannounced technology "that nobody outside of Microsoft knows about".
As to whether or not that new technology is game related, Harrison said that "the largest at-scale consumer market in tech right now is games", and that he, and his new company are certainly interested in the space:
We're definitely in the same neighbourhood, probably on the same street, but probably not the next door house, if that makes any sense. But clearly related. You know, the things that interest me and stimulate me are how technology and entertainment and people intersect. Think of those as three circles with a Venn diagram with an intersection in the middle
Harrison plans to remain in the UK, a fertile ground for "extraordinary talent", where he was with Xbox, working closely with two Microsoft owned studios, Rare and Lionhead. Harrison hinted that Rare is working on some "pretty exciting stuff", a "career highlight" for him to have worked on.
While his departure seemed a bit strange and ill-timed, a move to an independent company based at least in part on exciting new technologies could be a good one for both Harrison and Xbox.