Highfield joins Microsoft after just four months at Project Kangaroo
After just four months in charge of web TV joint venture Project Kangaroo, ex-BBC tech chief Ashley Highfield has quit for a new job at Microsoft UK.
The launch of Project Kangaroo, which will offer shows from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, has been forestalled by scrutiny from competition authorities. Rivals including Sky and Virgin Media have complained that a joint venture backed by public service broadcasters will have an unfair advantage in the nascent commercial web TV market.
"I was presented with an amazing opportunity which I couldn't turn down, and I am looking forward to embarking on my new challenge, while wishing everyone at the project continued success," Highfield said in a statement.
He will become Microsoft UK's "managing director and vice-president of consumer and online", making him responsible for Windows, Windows Mobile, advertising and Redmond's various attempts to loosen Google's death grip on the web.
Highfield's vanishingly short tenure at Project Kangaroo has been most notable for delays. The service now won't see daylight until the middle of next year at the earliest. Former Channel 4 exec Rod Henwood will take charge while a permanent successor is sought.
As director of future media and technology, Highfield cut a controversial figure at the BBC. Reg sources blamed him for the culture of commitees and waste that saw iPlayer development take several years and run millions over-budget. In the last months of his reign a new management team was brought in to rapidly develop a streaming version that has proved much more successful than the unwieldy P2P client he oversaw.
Open source advocates also accused him of being too close to Microsoft... ®