Microsoft's Chief Financial Officer, Amy Hood, warned employees in 2018 not to "build gold toilets" during a meeting. This was revealed in an email sent by another executive in the wake of Microsoft's legal battle with U.S. Antitrust regulators.
Microsoft's head of gaming acknowledged that Microsoft had in fact done what Hood warned against, as it was planning to test a cloud-based service for playing videogames.
Emails that were revealed during court hearings held last month about the planned sale of software by the company show that its finance chief warned employees to not "build a toilet in gold" during a meeting in 2018.
The quip could be a reference to a social media claim from 2016 (
Snopes proves that the claims made by Snopes are false
() that the former President Donald Trump had a solid-gold toilet. Rapper MC Hammer
Did you? The reference, whatever its source, seems to show that highly valued technology companies can build products simply because they are able to, without considering the possibility that their customers will not like them.
In an email sent to Phil Spencer, Microsoft's CEO for gaming, in February 2019, Vice President Catherine Gluckstein said, "Amy’s words from the fall meeting still ring in me – 'don't make a gold bathroom'." Gluckstein is responsible for advertising and the cloud game streaming service formerly called xCloud.
Microsoft's spokesperson declined to comment on Hood’s remarks.
Gluckstein made the comment about toilets just before mentioning Microsoft's plans for xCloud to be tested with consumers. She said that she wasn't sure what Microsoft was trying determine with these tests, and how the feature would fit into Xbox's marketing strategy.
Gluckstein wrote: "I have made this mistake too many times, and I am sure that everyone else has done so, when we built features before answering the core questions."
Spencer replied that mobile gamers do not necessarily want to use an Xbox controller while playing a hardcore Halo game on their phone.
Spencer wrote: "This is the building of our gold seat" (for existing TAM). It doesn't help our growth."
Spencer said that Microsoft should stop doing what it is currently doing and instead start acquiring intellectual property to release mobile games. It could also acquire a publisher of mobile games such as Nexon.
Gluckstein's response prompted her to wonder about other forms of internal development Microsoft might explore.
Gluckstein wrote: "It struck me that we are trying to run a perfect experiment, when we could be running several 'ceramic-toilet' experiments (smaller scope and more scrappy)." Would this be a more effective way of moving on from "guessing"? Do we push ourselves to find out the WHY of our customers fast enough?
xCloud Beta testing will begin in 2019. Microsoft executives testified in court for five days, from June to July, about the xCloud beta testing.
xCloud (now known as Xbox Cloud Gaming) has not been able to compete with PCs and Microsoft's Xbox consoles where games are run locally. This year
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Microsoft is still committed to cloud gaming. It's chosen to grow by making deals. The company announced last year its intention to purchase Activision Blizzard which produces the mobile hit Candy Crush Saga.
For $68.7 Billion
Microsoft will be able to close the deal despite the Federal Trade Commission's objections, as a federal judge will make the decision. British regulators are also involved
Try to block it
Below, you can read the emails that Spencer and Gluckstein sent to Hood in response to his "gold toilet" comment.
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