Some in Hollywood may have been surprised by Microsoft’s announcement that Xbox Entertainment Studios, its much-touted experiment in new kinds of interactive TV programming and headed by former CBS President Nancy Tellem, would be shut down. But really, didn’t we see this coming? Here are five reasons why the announcement was, ultimately, long in coming but not long in shock value, at least to veteran watchers of the uneasy, evolving boundary between Hollywood and Silicon Valley:
Shuffle the Deck. Of course, the greatest “sin” committed by Tellem and her crew is being an organizational outlier when the new guy took over. XES was launched two years ago under longtime Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who ran the company for 14 years before retiring in February.
The new CEO, cloud-computing specialist Satya Nadella, had no particular organizational connection with Xbox before taking over. And indeed, in announcing 18,000 layoffs last week (which particularly hit Microsoft’s recently acquired Nokia mobile divisions), Nadella signaled his company focus would be in the cloud, and on mobile. And without buy-in from the company’s new chief, XES was vulnerable — a common situation in Hollywood, where entertainment properties are routinely marooned when their institutional champions depart. (more…)