Tag Archives: Microsoft

Executive Poaching: Hunting Season is Open in the Silicon Valley

According to a story by Jon Fingas, “Google may be doing more to boost Motorola’s presence than whipping up a new device strategy, if rumors are true. The website AllThingsD claims that Google has poached Samsung’s American VP for strategic marketing, Brian Wallace, for a roughly equivalent role at Motorola.”

The story, and the poaching of Wallace, have significance because, as the headline on a story by Dow Jones Newswires’ Amir Efrati declares, “Samsung’s Heft in Android Worries Google.” The story notes that “Samsung Electronics Co. has become the biggest seller of mobile devices using Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system. That creates a problem for Google.”

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At a Google event last fall, Efrati wrote, Android head Andy Rubin “praised Samsung’s success and said the partnership had been mutually beneficial.” But Rubin also said that “Samsung could become a threat if it attains a dominant position among mobile-device manufacturers that use Android,” and he added that “Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility, which makes Android-based smartphones and tablets, served as a kind of insurance policy, or ‘hedge,’ against a manufacturer such as Samsung gaining too much power over Android.”

The intricacies of this delicate dance between Google and Samsung got me to thinking: What other companies are poaching the top executives away from their competition as a way to fend off business threats?

It turns out it’s a more common practice than one might expect.

Another story carries the headline “Twitter Shuffles Top Brass With New COO and CFO Appointments.” noting that “changes in the top ranks have been some time coming, as Twitter has spent the past year reorganizing the company into different teams, headed by high-profile tech hires stolen from other big companies around Silicon Valley (Google perhaps being the prime poaching target).”

Another story written by John Paczowski, headlined “Amazon Poaches Windows Phone Director,” details how “Robert Williams, a 15-year Microsoft veteran who most recently served as senior director of business development for the company’s Windows Phone division, started work at Amazon today. His new role: Director of the retailer’s app store. Williams joins Brandon Watson, senior director of Windows Phone development, who left Microsoft this past February.” Paczowski noted that although “there’s no hard evidence to suggest that either of the two is working on Amazon’s rumored smartphone, their CVs (curriculum vitas) and smartphone experience certainly lend credence to the idea.

Part of the increased poaching activity can be traced back to a settlement revealed in 2010 between the Departmentof Justice and a half-dozen tech companies in the Silicon Valley over an alleged no-poaching agreement that had been negotiated among the firms. The companies named in the settlement include Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit and Pixar.blog3.jpg

Paczkowski, in a story dated Sept. 24, 2010, wrote that “the U.S. Department of Justice has reached an agreement with six major Silicon Valley companies over their employee recruiting practices and alleged no-poaching agreements.” His story includes a quote from deputy assistant attorney general Molly Boast, who said: “The agreements challenged here restrained competition for affected employees without any procompetitive justification.”

Now we know why poaching season is open in the Silicon Valley.

John Jarvis

Is Microsoft Paying More Attention to Female Gamers?

In an interview the week before the release of Halo 4, Bonnie Ross, from Microsoft’s 343 Industries, and Kiki Wolfkill, Halo 4’s executive producer, boldly announced that Xbox Live would be implementing a lifetime ban for “players who are found to be making sexist or discriminatory comments against others.” The blogosphere lit up with claims that Halo 4 on Xbox Live would be “banning sexism,” but what does this really mean?

According to ESA game player data, female gamers now make up 47% of all game players, and females over 18 are the industry’s fastest growing demographic.  Nonetheless, sexism in gaming is a prevalent issue. Websites like Fat, Ugly, or Slutty encourage gamers to submit screen shots of players making rude, sexist, or inappropriate comments. Sexist comments are an integral part of the banter over the microphone headsets that gamers use to communicate with each other.

The fact that two industry leaders behind a popular game like Halo 4 are women is quite impressive.  It is also important to have them calling out sexism in gaming as “behavior that is offensive and completely unacceptable.” The question is, do their words have any real impact? At it turns out; their seemingly groundbreaking announcement does not reflect any actual modification of the current Xbox Live policy.  The code of conduct, has not been changed, and reads as follows:

Don’t create a gamertag, profile content, Avatar action, Avatar content, or in-game content that other users may be offended by. This includes, without limitation, anything related to or suggestive of: profane words/phrases, topics or content of a sexual nature, hate speech (including but not limited to racial, ethnic, or religious slurs), illegal drugs/controlled substances, or illegal activities.

As you can see, the code of conduct includes no new language specifically addressing sexist comments. Since the interview, a Microsoft representative has said that the company is not changing their Xbox Live policy for Halo 4, adding that Microsoft does not support any form of bigotry.

So to summarize, Xbox Live is not placing a lifetime ban on players who use sexist comments, and Ross and Wolfkill’s announcement does not mean that Microsoft will be initiating any special measures to stop sexism on Xbox Live.

The few days of excitement over the possibility of Microsoft taking steps to actively fight sexism raises important questions; should sexism be fought in online gaming forums? With women now making up a large and growing percentage of gamers, is this an issue that needs to be pursued, or should online gaming outlets stay out of the situation?

In their interview, Ross and Wolfkill placed more of the responsibility for ending sexism in gaming on the developers. As the number of women in the gaming world grows, it will be interesting to see how companies like Microsoft handle the issue of sexism.

Amelia M. Torre

Re-blogged on The F-Bomb

Media Distribution in Digital Age: New and Old Problems

New ways of distribution, media piracy, problems with niche media and media conglomerates issues – all of these topics were discussed at the conference “Net Worth: Media Distribution in the Digital Era” in Santa Barbara, California, held on February 18.
The problem of digital media practices was discussed by professors from different universities and representatives of companies such as Microsoft Corporation, Sony Home Entertainment, Walt Disney Studio, Warner Bros. and others.

The biggest problem media conglomerates see in the media today is still piracy.
“There is product devaluation and we blame piracy for that. Aggregation is also a problem,” complained Vice President Business Development and New Media Distribution Strategy of the Walt Disney Studios Kelly Summers. “We would like to take advantage of what our content people put on YouTube, but in that way we only endorse piracy.”

Executive Vice President of Advertising Research Foundation Global Business Strategy Horst Stipp says that consumers are interested in the “comfortable” delivery of media products. Therefore, there are illegal copies of media products always being readily produced and available.

“We see that consumers care about getting product in the most convenient way,”  says Horst Stipp.

As for the legal ways of distributing media, Summers says Disney Studios watch very carefully where their content goes. They are not focused on mobile TV  since not many people watch content just on their phones.”One more thing we are doing now is Disney Studio All Access,” says Summers.Disney Studio All Access is a new platform that combines Disney Movie Rewards, Disney Movies Online, DisneyFile Digital Copy and Disney Key Chest. This platform gives a new way of media distribution. It would enable consumers with easier access to the studio’s vaunted vault of classic content from one source and be playable across multiple devices.

Generally speaking, viewing experience has become different now than it ever was before. With TV’s connected to Internet, there is not only viewing, but also a connected experience.

“Soon things would be determined by what a network knows about you,”  says President Digital Distribution of Warner Bros. Thomas Gewecke.

Gewecke is sure that digital is now a significant part of the mix of media distributions.

More information about the conference can be found here:

http://www.carseywolf.ucsb.edu/mip/events/net-worth-media-distribution-digital-era