Time ran out for XBox Entertainment Studios President Nancy Tellem and EVP Jordan Levin in their efforts to keep Microsoft’s entertainment unit alive by finding another partner. The final wave of layoffs at Microsoft today, in which 3,000 positions were eliminated, included Tellem, Levin and their skeleton crew left at XES.
The shutdown of XES was announced in July, when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlined the company’s plans to cut 18,000 jobs for the largest layoffs in tech history. XES staff already had been drastically reduced by the previous rounds of layoffs that followed the July announcement. Today’s cuts are believed to be the last as the 18,000 goal has been reached.
Over the past couple of months, Tellem and Levin trimmed XES’ development slate, settling out of projects that were in very early stages and passing on those it considered very long shots, so writers and producers don’t get tangled in legal webs later. They held on to some two dozen projects, whose scripts have been either written or are being written or which have a presentation tape well in the works for unscripted shows.
In the meanwhile, Tellem and Levin had been approached with multiple opportunities about partnering with another over-the-top video service that would’ve included the duo taking XES’ infrastructure and development slate with them. That had included discussions with Warner Bros about possibly merging XES with Machinima, the video game-centric YouTube channel in which the studio has a stake.
However, despite indications that the duo would be given reasonable time to see these discussions through, Microsoft today effectively ended the possibility for XES to live on in some shape and form. Tellem and Levin now are free agents and likely will be exploring new job opportunities.