Initiated reports that Microsoft’s Alex Kipman, who led the teams that developed the company’s HoloLens augmented reality headset and Kinect motion controller for Xbox and is one of Microsoft’s top tech fellows, has resigned after allegations verbal abuse and sexual harassment.
Microsoft did not immediately confirm or deny the report, but GeekWire has already corroborated this by obtaining an internal email from Microsoft cloud boss Scott Guthrie: “We have mutually decided that this is the right time for him to leave the company to pursue other opportunities,” writes -he. The memo, which you can read on GeekWire, says nothing about the allegations and says Kipman will stay for another two months to help with the transition. It also details a reorganization of Kipman’s entire mixed reality division, with hardware teams joining Panos Panay’s Windows + Devices organization.
According Initiated’According to Microsoft sources, more than 25 Microsoft employees contributed to an internal report of alleged misconduct by Kipman, including instances of unwanted touching, as well as once watching a lewd video in virtual reality in front of office workers.
Today’s report follows a previous Initiated May 25 report, where dozens of employees spoke to the publication about Kipman’s alleged behavior. Three employees said Initiated that they had been warned not to leave women alone around Kipman. When Initiated contacted at that time, Microsoft neither confirmed nor denied the specific allegations of misconduct against the women, but denied that Kipman had begun to be chaperoned by human resources personnel in meetings.
A former Microsoft executive was so upset by Kipman’s behavior that he suggested the COVID-19 outbreak had actually made things better: “The best thing that happened, unfortunately, was the pandemic,” they wrote. they told Insider. “So we never had to interact with him in person.”
Kipman did not respond Initiated‘s repeated requests for comment, and he hasn’t tweeted since May 23.
In February, Kipman responded to a previous Initiated report that suggested the HoloLens division was a mess and that a HoloLens 3 could have been canceled, saying “Don’t believe what you read on the internet”. Insider wasn’t the only post to suggest problems in the division, however: The Wall Street Journal reported in January that more than 70 Microsoft employees from the HoloLens team left the company in 2021, more than 40 of whom joined Meta.
Microsoft was counting on a big win for HoloLens from the US military, which ordered up to 120,000 IVAS headsets for soldiers. The order would cost the company $21.88 billion over 10 years, but the military held up the deal and a Pentagon audit wasn’t too optimistic about the idea. “Purchasing IVAS without gaining user acceptance could waste up to $21.88 billion in public funds to set up a system that soldiers may not want to use or use as intended,” reads an April 2022 DoD Inspector General Report (pdf). However, Guthrie says in his memo that the military approved an operational test last month.
Regardless of the state of the Hololens program, Kipman is out.
Microsoft would not comment on the Initiated report.