Exec to oversee sales of hyped X-Box

Mitch Koch, head of domestic operations for Disney’s Buena Vista Home Entertainment, is leaving the studio for Microsoft, where he will spearhead sales of the much-hyped X-Box videogame system, due to launch worldwide in fall 2001.

Software giant Microsoft is on a quest to harness Hollywood talent for X-Box, a convergent system that will play DVD videodiscs, offer Internet capabilities and serve as a gaming platform.

Koch will be VP of worldwide sales for Microsoft’s home and retail division, which is overseeing the X-Box launch as part of its responsibility for all of the computer giant’s products sold at retail.

To market the console, which reps its first foray into non-PC-related hardware manufacturing and the high-stakes videogame console arena, Microsoft will spend $500 million — the most ever spent by the company on a product launch.

When Microsoft senior VP and division head Robbi Bach “explained the X-Box and what the home and retail division is doing in the retail space with a major product launch, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Koch said.

Disney officials were unavailable for comment on Koch’s departure or a replacement for him.

While at Buena Vista, Koch has played a key role in formulating the studio’s DVD policies. During his tenure, the studio launched the Disney DVD consumer brand, under which most of its animated classics are or will be made available in the format. It also began to release virtually all of its box-office hits simultaneously on VHS and DVD, and it significantly increased the supplemental material it includes on DVDs.

Koch has been Buena Vista’s exec VP and general manager since 1997; prior to that he was senior veep of finance for the video division. Before joining Disney, Koch was at Kenneth Leventhal & Co., Ediflex Systems and New World Entertainment.

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