Alex Kipman, a longtime Microsoft executive, is leaving the company after 21 years due to numerous misconduct allegations, Insider reports. The accusations include inappropriately touching female employees and watching what one witness described as “VR porn” at work.
Many in the gaming world may recognize Kipman from Xbox motion-sensing accessory Kinect, on which he guided development leading up to its 2009 debut. Microsoft touted the Xbox 360 (and eventually Xbox One) peripheral as the next big thing in gaming at launch, but Kinect was officially put out to pasture in 2017 after not achieving the critical and commercial success Microsoft no doubt envisioned for it.
Kipman later took on a similar role in the creation of the HoloLens, mixed-reality smart glasses that, much like Kinect, have largely failed to catch on.
Behind the scenes of all this technological wizardry, Kipman was said to have fostered an difficult environment for the people working alongside him. One former Microsoft executive told Insider that he witnessed Kipman rubbing a woman’s shoulders. When she tried to stop him, Kipman continued anyway, despite her looking, as the executive put it, “deeply uncomfortable.”
“Uncomfortable” is also the word a different Microsoft employee used to describe the VR porn incident. In May, Insider reported that, as the company’s mixed-reality team experimented with a prototype one evening in 2015, Kipman put on a VR headset to test it out. The video he chose was of an “overtly sexualized pillow fight” that could be seen by everyone in the room through a monitor that mirrored the peripheral’s display.
Working with Kipman reportedly got so bad that over 25 employees contributed to a document compiling similarly negative interactions with the intention of sending it to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. According to three sources, managers even warned others not to leave women alone with Kipman.
Insider previously detailed Kipman’s indecent behavior in a May report about Microsoft’s “golden boys,” a group of corporate leaders who have contributed to a toxic culture of harassment and abuse at the massive tech company. At the time, Microsoft didn’t confirm or deny the charges against Kipman, and internal emails to Microsoft staff seen by Insider concerning Kipman’s resignation make no mention of the events leading up to his departure.
Speaking to Kotaku, a Microsoft spokesperson would only say that organizational changes have been made to its mixed-reality team and that Kipman will leave the company to “pursue other interests” after assisting with a two-month transitional period.