Report: Microsoft Kinect Creator Resigns After Being Accused Of Watching ‘VR Porn’ At Work

Report: Microsoft Kinect Creator Resigns After Being Accused Of Watching ‘VR Porn’ At Work
Photo: Gabriel Bouys, Getty Images

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 recognise 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 behaviour 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.

 

Comments

  • “managers even warned others not to leave women alone with Kipman.” If the sources are correct, this is a serious failure of management if they know there is a problem and all they do is secretly warn staff. How can you deny there is a problem, when your telling people their is a problem?

    • Indeed. Instead they should have been warning upper management to not allow Kipman to be alone with women, before enacting his departure. Pretty gross.

    • This isn’t uncommon for big companies. I was involved in something similar, the company won’t admit anything, because then they’re admitting liability and it can be used later.

      Even if the allegations are proven true, the company will generally settle before it goes to court so it can’t be reported on in the media. They will then make a settlement with a 10 year non-disclosure period, or something similar. Basically they pay people off IF there is concrete proof and make it illegal to talk about it.

  • No problems with the Australian store. Preorders opened just after 12PM and went through with no major glitches.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!