Mohit Anand is one of the biggest icons of the Indian gaming industry. After the launch of the Xbox 360 in India, the country manager of Entertainment & Devices at Microsoft had become one of the most recognized faces in the Indian gaming scene. However, a few days ago news emerged that he was going to quit Microsoft India. This news came as a shock to many. There were a lot of rumors flying around. We got in touch with him and he spoke to us clearing all the speculations. Here is how the whole conversation went:
GG: Your resignation from Microsoft was kind of unexpected. So what exactly transpired?
MA: Nothing brought it on. I have been here for eight years and I had an amazing run. It was time for me to move on to the next level to pursue my dreams.
GG: OK. So your next job would be something gaming related or is it going to be something totally different?
MA: Well, if you look at the work I have done for the last fifteen years, it has primarily been in the technology pages. On the technology side, I have been more focused on the consumer and retail side. When the Xbox 360 came on, I had already been handling gaming since long. Thus that obviously added the whole tangent of entertainment and content to it. So whatever my next move is going to be, it is going to be within these spaces, which is technology. The convergence of technology, retail, entertainment, thatís where I have specialized and built these skill sets and that is what I really intend to do.
You will have to wait and watch for the formal announcement as to where I am going because obviously it is unfair to me to break the news on what I intend to do next and the arrangement that I have reached with the people on the other side without having their consent.
GG: There were rumors that you are joining an Indian company that is working with Nintendo to get the Wii to India?
MA: Again I canít say anything. I donít think so Nintendo first of all hasnt made any announcements on entering the country. There are rumors and speculations floating around for that as well but all I will say is that right now I am not going to be making any formal announcements as to where I am headed. But whatever I do next will be in the cusp of entertainment, convergence, youth, gaming. It is all there.
I am not going to suddenly start selling rockets. I donít know how to do that or I am not going to sell big servers and enterprise solutions and stuff like that. I am going to be working on my strengths. You will have to wait and watch.
GG: When does your notice period with Microsoft end?
MA: The formal notice period with Microsoft is a period of six weeks. That will end only by 15th April. I hope to then be back in action.
GG: So you absolutely negate the rumor that there was some internal problem within the companyÖ
MA: Absolutely negate the rumor vociferously. I had a great time at Microsoft. Some of my best friends, who will be my friends for life, are at Microsoft. It is a great company. I had a great time working there and I am amicably and with a lot of good memory parting with the company and I hope to continue friendships and relationships with the people there all my life.
GG: Would you be staying in India or going abroad, professionally speaking?
MA: Absolutely in India. I had made that decision three four years ago and I had multiple opportunities to leave the country but I am very, very committed. I think this is our way as our generation, our way of giving to the economic upliftment of the country. So I completely am not going to leave the country under any circumstance.
GG: Who would be filling in your shoes? Hypothetically there was somebody that you would like to give your position to, who would it be?
MA: I canít hypothetically say that because it is not my decision. All I can definitely say is that one of the biggest achievements that I am incredibly proud of, the one I have been able to achieve in my time at Microsoft is to have built a great team. When I took over this business I was a one man person and now it is a very large team.
We have a very, very strong bench of awesome people. Awesome is perhaps an understatement to describe this team. They are a phenomenal bunch of people with varied experiences and skill sets, which complement each other. So whoever comes on to lead that team will really inherit a very, very strong and solid team and I think the business is only going to go forward.
GG: Who would be the next in hierarchy after you who could be sitting in your chair?
MA: There is nothing called hierarchy in Microsoft. I have worked there long enough to say that very honestly to you. It is a very, simple and straight and a flat organization and it is a team. But I do think that the company will be bringing in fresh leadership from within Microsoft or externally. That is my thinking on the subject. I think that is whatís going to happen.
It is not going to be one of the guys on the team who is going to take over because I also think they are a little base away from taking on overall leadership because it is not only gaming, it is a very large business and a very varied and complex business. So I do anticipate there will be a new leader who will be stepping into my shoes. From within Microsoft or externally is something I canít say.
GG: Would your sudden exit cause complications like delay in the launches of the Xbox 360 games or the other future plans as such?
MA: Not at all. Like I said, I am incredibly proud of the team that is in place and I donít know think any such thing is going to happen for that matter I doubt if I will be missed at all because those are the guys who do the real work.
I just stand up in front of the press and say a few things and tend to get a little publicity for it. But the real heroes are the guys there and they are the guys who deserve all the credit. They will continue to do that work in the same way.
GG: Are you happy with the way the Xbox 360 has performed in India?
MA: Yeah, absolutely. The face of gaming in India is not me, but the Xbox 360 is the face. Five years from now, ten years from now we will give you at least a guarantee. I am pretty sure of that when the history of evolution of gaming industry is written, the single biggest event that changed the entire industry was the launch of the Xbox 360 and not only the launch, but the manner in which it was launched, the way it came out, it came out with all guns blazing, we did a brand out there, we didnít hold back or really come in quietly or without any investment, without any hype, without any touch and feel of the product. We are out there touching consumers everyday.
People who hadnít heard of gaming stood up and took notice. Having been associated with the 360 right from the inception stage way back in April 2005 when I started writing the entry strategy to launching it to where we are today, it has been an incredible ride and I am extremely proud and honored to be a part of it.
GG: Will you always remain to be a Xbox 360 gamer?
MA: Oh, absolutely. I love the Xbox 360. As a gamer, I donít think it is the box that matters but itís the content that matters. My all-time favorite still will be Ages of Empire 2. I have played it since the last eight-ten years. But the fact is that it is the game and it is about fun. I love playing games, though I donít get as much time and you know a lot of people think of me as a hardcore gamer, I love gaming, I wish I get much more time to play games than I get because the professional responsibilities. So my passion for gaming has not diminished at all.
GG: If you just had one thing to change about the Xbox 360, what would it be?
MA: (Laughs)Ö The product quality, which is the issue that we had with the red rings of death. But I still think the company has done a phenomenal job by stepping up to the place and saying “yes” we will take care of it and extend the warranty to three years. I think that is one place where I honestly as a consumer would feel that we could have done better for our customer.
GG: If you are offered a job by PS3, would you take that on?
MA: No, I wonít.
For the second part of the interview, click here