Blair Westlake, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Media and Entertainment Group, has abruptly left the company amid a restructuring.
"Over the last few months Microsoft has been undergoing a large-scale reorganization. As the reorganization has unfolded, it has become clear to me that the organization is moving in a direction that does not fit either my expertise or my skill sets. Therefore, I made the decision to leave Microsoft, after almost 10 years with the Company," Westlake said in a statement obtained by Multichannel News. "During that period, I have had the privilege of working with numerous talented and professional people. While I will miss their company and our interaction, I truly believe that this move is in the best interest of all parties concerned. I want to thank my talented and committed team, as well as Yusuf Mehdi, Robbie Bach, Will Poole and Hank Vigil, all of whom had a significant and positive impact on me during my tenure at Microsoft."
Microsoft confirmed Westlake's departure, but did not identify interim or permanent replacement. "He made valuable contributions to the company and we wish him success in his future endeavors," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
Westlake, who joined Microsoft in 2004, headed up a division that licenses movies and TV shows for Microsoft’s Xbox platforms, including the recently-launched $499 Xbox One. His involvement extended to deals that paved the way for the Xbox platform to support authenticated TV Everywhere apps from partners such as Time Warner Cable, HBO and Verizon Communications.
Restructuring aside, Westlake’s exec comes amid a backdrop in which Microsoft continues its hunt for a CEO who will succeed Steve Ballmer.
Westlake received a Digital Leadership Award last September at the Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News Next TV Summit in San Francisco. During his keynote address there, he likened the changing technology landscape facing the TV industry to the classic “innovator’s dilemma.”
“When you have a good thing that is making for money for you,” there is a tendency by companies to think that “if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix,” Westlake said. “But when you realize it may not be broke but that the pencil is being stretched to the point where it is about to snap,” then companies have to change.