Microsoft HoloLens Boss Alex Kipman Leaving Due to Misconduct Allegations

As the co-creator of Hololens and the chief of Microsoft’s mixed reality division, Alex Kipman has been the face of the company’s immersive efforts for several years now. That’s all coming to an end, with reports stating that Kipman will be leaving Microsoft after allegations of verbal abuse and sexual harassment surfaced.

Microsoft HoloLens 2

Insider reported the allegations back in May and it was the same site this week that first reported on Kipman resigning his position. While Microsoft has yet to officially comment on the report, Geekwire obtained an email from Scott Guthrie, the head of Microsoft’s Cloud & AI Group, announcing a restructuring of the Hololens group.

The hardware and software teams will be split between the Windows + Devices organisation and the Experiences + Devices division respectively. This hasn’t been an overnight decision it seems, with Guthrie stating in the email that: “Over the last several months, Alex Kipman and I have been talking about the team’s path going forward. We have mutually decided that this is the right time for him to leave the company to pursue other opportunities.” Kipman won’t be leaving right away. He’ll help the team’s transitions over the next couple of months before departing Microsoft.

What this will mean for Hololens is unclear as Kipman was by far Hololens’ (and mixed reality’s) most ardent supporter within Microsoft. The news comes at a turbulent time for the device as the US Army decides whether to continue with HoloLens development – called IVAS – for its soldiers, with reports suggesting that the 10-year, $21.9 billion USD contract might be delayed or reduced in size.

Microsoft Ignite, Alex Kipman and John Hanke
Alex Kipman and John Hanke at Microsoft Ignite

A Brazilian engineer, Kipman joined Microsoft in 2001 and worked within the Windows and Xbox teams – he helped create the Xbox Kinect sensor – before heading up the mixed reality division. Insider’s report last month saw dozens of staff detail his alleged behaviour to the publication. These included one employee saying Kipman watched what was essentially VR porn in front of others whilst another spoke of an incident where he kept massaging a female employee’s shoulders even though she was trying to shrug him off.

It was this pattern of continual inappropriate behaviour and unwanted touching that created an atmosphere where managers reportedly told staff women shouldn’t be left alone with him.

At the beginning of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported on more than 70 staff from the Hololens team leaving Microsoft in 2021, with 40 of those joining Meta.

For continued Hololens updates, keep reading gmw3.