It's official. Our most beloved Microsoft exec, James "J" Allard, is leaving Microsoft after 19 years. The Boston University grad tasked with injecting cool into the Xbox, Xbox 360 and Zune is moving on, leaving us with fond, hoodie-filled memories
The man who once described himself and the original Xbox division as the "Eminem of Microsoft" in this classic Seattle Times piece and later called Kotaku creepy, brought us great joy—and not just by evangelizing video games.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer agrees. "J has brought a game-changing creative magic to Microsoft for years, from Windows to Xbox, from Zune to KIN," he said in the official press release confirming the departures of J Allard and Robbie Bach. "He was one of the key drivers in our early work on the Web, and we're absolutely delighted that J's role with the company will evolve in a way that lets all of Microsoft benefit from his business insight, technical depth and keen eye for consumer experience." The evolution will see J serve as an "advisor in a strategic role for Ballmer and his leadership team."
The former Chief Technology Officer for the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft and "CXO" ushered in a new era of corporate edginess. Here are some of our other favorite J moments.
Formerly a buttoned up and pudgier nerd, J Allard made the transition to certified cool guy with a good image scrubbing. A genuine hoodie enthusiast and streetwear aficionado, J was rarely seen without a t-shirt blazer combo or something labeled Bape or 3sixteen.
Allard's laid back attitude to bringing another multi-billion dollar hardware investment to market was never more apparent than when J rejected keynote tradition and sat down on stage while discussing the Utopian vision of Xbox Live. Never has an on-stage sit-down by a video game executive been attempted again.
N'Gai - 1, J - 0
J made a bet with former Newsweek journalist N'Gai Croal that the PSP couldn't match the sell through rate of Sony's PlayStation 2. He lost that bet and was forced—after much encouragement to honor his commitment—to wear a dreadlocked wig and display his hacked PSP on his Microsoft executive bio, admitting defeat.
"Well, N'Gai called it," Allard wrote. "In October 2005, Sony announced that they had surpassed 10 million units sold after only 10 months of commercial availability. He had me beat."
J Welcomes Us To The Social
J helps bring the Zune, Microsoft's middling competitor to the iPod, to market. The most memorable moment? Getting to use "Welcome to the Social" sarcastically.