Zune Exec Leaves Microsoft

Bryan Lee, who came to Microsoft to run business development for the Xbox, is retiring to pursue personal interests.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

February 1, 2007

2 Min Read

Bryan Lee, the VP of Microsoft's Zune business in charge of negotiating deals with major music labels, is leaving the company.

Lee, who joined Microsoft in 2000 to take over business development for the Xbox, is retiring to pursue "personal interests," the company said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday. Lee's current responsibilities will be taken over by J. Allard, VP of design and development for Microsoft's entertainment and devices division.

"Over the last six years, I've had the luxury of repeatedly asking Bryan to take on greater responsibility and leadership and then watching him deliver," Robbie Bach, president of the entertainment division, said. "I want to extend my thanks to Bryan from the company and from me personally for all of his contributions to Microsoft."

Allard, whom the company said is already playing a key role in Microsoft's music strategy, will be in charge of business development and marketing for Zune, the portable media player, software, and online store Microsoft launched last November to take on Apple's popular iPod.

Negotiating deals with major record labels is a key component for success of Zune, which has a long road toward catching the iPod. The Apple device accounts for more than three quarters of the worldwide digital music player market. In particular, music companies that provide tunes for Zune also have to be convinced to buy into its biggest differentiating feature -- the ability to share music wirelessly with other Zune players.

Besides his work with Zune and the Xbox, Lee has also overseen business development of the Windows XP Media Center Edition, as well as the first deployments of Microsoft's IPTV software with service providers worldwide.

In other executive shuffling, Joe Belfiore, VP of Windows Media Center, and Enrique Rodriguez, VP of Microsoft's TV Division, who both reported to Lee, will now report to Bach.

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