Insider reports that Microsoft’s Alex Kipman, who led the teams developing the HoloLens augmented reality headset and Kinect motion controller for Xbox and serves as one of Microsoft’s top tech fellows, has resigned following allegations of verbal abuse and sexual harassment .
Microsoft would not immediately confirm or deny the report, but GeekWire has already confirmed it by receiving an internal email from Microsoft cloud boss Scott Guthrie: “We have collectively decided that now is the right time for him to leave the company to pursue other opportunities,” he writes. The memo, which you can read at GeekWire, said nothing about the allegations, saying Kipman will stay on for another two months to help with the transition. It also describes a reorganization for Kipman’s entire mixed reality division, with the hardware teams joining Panos Panay’s Windows + Devices organization.
According to insider’According to sources, more than 25 Microsoft employees contributed to an internal report of Kipman’s alleged misconduct, including instances of unwanted touching, as well as a time when he allegedly watched a lewd VR video in front of employees at the office.
Today’s report comes after an earlier one Insider report on May 25, where dozens of employees told the publication about Kipman’s alleged behavior. Three employees told Insider that they had been warned not to leave women alone around Kipman. When Insider When contacting Microsoft, Microsoft declined to confirm or deny specific allegations of misconduct against women, but denied that Kipman was supervised by human resources during meetings.
A former Microsoft executive was so saddened by Kipman’s behavior that they suggested the COVID-19 outbreak had actually improved things: “The best thing that happened, unfortunately, was the pandemic,” they told Insider. “So we never had to contact him personally.”
Kipman hasn’t responded to Insiderrepeated requests for comment, and he hasn’t tweeted since May 23.
In February, Kipman responded to an earlier Insider report that suggested the HoloLens division was a mess and that a HoloLens 3 may have been canceled saying, “Don’t believe what you read on the internet.” Insider wasn’t the only publication to suggest some issues in the division, though: The Wall Street Journal reported in January that more than 70 Microsoft employees from the HoloLens team had left the company by 2021, and more than 40 had left Meta.
Microsoft was counting on a big win for HoloLens with the US military, which ordered a staggering 120,000 IVAS soldier headsets. That order would be worth $21.88 billion to the company in 10 years, but the military has delayed the deal and a Pentagon audit wasn’t too optimistic about the idea. “Purchasing IVAS without user adoption could end up wasting up to $21.88 billion in taxpayer dollars using a system that soldiers may not want to use or use as intended,” reads part of a report from April 2022 from the Inspector General of the DoD (pdf). However, Guthrie states in his memo that the military did approve an operational test last month.
Regardless of the state of the Hololens program, Kipman is out.
Microsoft would not comment on the Insider report.