Microsoft HoloLens Head Alex Kipman Fired

Published on 30 May 2022

Microsoft HoloLens, Alex Kipman Fired

According to Insider, Microsoft's Alex Kipman, who oversaw the teams that created the HoloLens augmented reality headset and the Kinect motion controller for Xbox and is one of the company's top technical fellows, has left after complaints of verbal abuse and sexual harassment.

Microsoft would not immediately confirm or refute the allegation. Still, GeekWire has obtained an internal email from Microsoft cloud chief Scott Guthrie that confirms the report: "We have mutually agreed that now is the best time for him to seek other options," he writes. The letter, which can be seen on GeekWire, mentions the charges and states that Kipman will remain for an additional two months to assist with the transition. It also describes the restructuring of Kipman's whole mixed reality branch, with the hardware teams joining Panos Panay's Windows + Devices department.

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Who Raised The Complaint?

According to Insider's sources, more than 25 Microsoft employees submitted an internal complaint regarding Kipman's alleged wrongdoing, including unwanted touching and a time when he reportedly viewed a pornographic VR film in front of coworkers.

This article follows a May 25 Insider piece in which scores of workers discussed Kipman's allegedly inappropriate conduct. Three staff told Insider they were advised not to leave ladies alone in Kipman's vicinity. Microsoft would not confirm or refute specific charges of wrongdoing against women when contacted by Insider at the time but denied that Kipman had begun to be accompanied by human resources workers in meetings.

One former Microsoft executive was so concerned by Kipman's actions that they thought the COVID-19 outbreak improved things: "Unfortunately, the pandemic was the greatest thing that could have occurred," they told Insider. Therefore, we never had to deal with him face-to-face.

Kipman’s Response

"Don't trust anything you read on the internet," Kipman said in February in response to an Insider article that stated the HoloLens division was a shambles and that a HoloLens 3 could have been scrapped. Insider was not the first newspaper to indicate that the division was experiencing difficulties. In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that more than 70 Microsoft workers on the HoloLens team had departed the business in 2021, with more than 40 joining Meta.

Mircosoft’s Future Plans For HoloLens

Microsoft had high hopes for HoloLens with the United States Army, which bought up to 120,000 IVAS headsets for troops. This purchase would be worth $21.88 billion over ten years to the corporation, but the Army has delayed the sale, and a Pentagon audit was not enthusiastic about the proposal. "Procuring IVAS without achieving user approval might waste up to $21.88 billion in taxpayer monies to deploy a system that Soldiers may not want to use or operate as intended," according to a study from the Department of Defense's Inspector General published in April 2022. (pdf). However, Guthrie indicates in his letter that the Army allowed an operational test last month.

Kipman is leaving regardless of the status of the Hololens program.

Featured image: Microsoft HoloLens


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