Microsoft, founded by Bill Gates, was–and still is–a hardware and software developer and distributor. Largely known for it’s Microsoft Suite of tools, the company ventured into the nascent gaming scene in 2001 with it’s Xbox home console. While it went on to sell a total of 24 million worldwide, former Microsoft senior vice president Don Mattrick didn’t believe in the hardware.
According to a tweet posted by original Xbox creator Seamus Blackley, Mattrick “nearly blocked” Blackley “from addressing the company.” Blackley, who was hired by Microsoft in February 1999, saw Sony’s PlayStation introduction in the same year and came up with a console proposal for Microsoft: the original Xbox.
I’ve never talked about this before, but the irony of Don Mattrick as Xbox Chief was huge for me: when I first came to EA Canada to present the idea of a Microsoft console, he nearly blocked me from addressing the company because he didn’t believe it was possible. It was tense. pic.twitter.com/3pqRq4rGBL
— Seamus Blackley (@SeamusBlackley) March 4, 2019
While Bill Gates approved the idea, Mattrick didn’t seem to buy in. As tweeted by Blackley, Mattrick “didn’t believe it was possible” and “it was tense,” Blackley explained. He didn’t go into further detail, other than replying “Yes” to a Twitter user praising Phil Spencer, who is currently heading up Microsoft’s Xbox division.
Mattrick had a storied history in the games industry. After kicking his career off in the ’80s, he began gaining traction in the early 2000s after joining Electronic Arts as the company’s president of worldwide studios. Mattrick left EA in February 2007 and became Microsoft’s senior vice president, overseeing the Xbox 360 and PC divisions. He remained at Microsoft, jumping between roles throughout his tenure, until July 2013, two months after the company’s Xbox One reveal. In the same month, Mattrick left Microsoft and joined Zynga as the company’s CEO, where he stayed until his swift resignation from the San Francisco-based mobile game developer in April 2015.
Phil Spencer, who started at as an intern at Microsoft in 1988, gained his first prominent role at Microsoft as the general manager of Microsoft Game Studios EMEA. After working there for nearly 30 years, Spencer became Microsoft’s executive vice president of gaming in 2017.