Blair Westlake has abruptly resigned from Microsoft, Variety has confirmed.
The former Universal television chairman joined Microsoft in 2004, to head media partnerships and oversaw the licensing of TV shows and movies for the company’s Xbox platforms. He was corporate VP of Microsoft’s Media and Entertainment Group.
“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,” Westlake said in a statement on Wednesday, just days after he attended the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas.
“Over the last few months Microsoft has been undergoing a large-scale reorganization,” said Westlake, who has spent the past 10 years at the company. “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.”
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Westlake’s resignation comes more than a year after Microsoft tapped longtime CBS president Nancy Tellem to serve as president of entertainment and digital media and oversee the development and production of exclusive series and other content to play on the Xbox videogame consoles.
It also occurs as Microsoft is readying to announce a new CEO to replace Steve Ballmer. It’s obviously yet unclear, until a new CEO is named, whether the executive will embrace entertainment or push Microsoft to focus more on hardware and software as it tries to further restructure its core businesses.
But Westlake had long been one of the biggest champions of online entertainment for Microsoft, and a well-respected executive that the company relied on to help turn the Xbox more into a hub for all forms of entertainment, not just video games.
He had previously served as chairman of Universal Television & Networks Group, and spent 19 years as an exec at Universal Studios, before consulting for Comcast and NBCU.
Westlake “made valuable contributions to the company and we wish him success in his future endeavors,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in confirming the exec’s departure.