Amazon loses its head of Fire TV, Kindle and Luna to Unity

Marc Whitten's string of high-profile industry roles continues.

Here he is, hanging out with Shaq and Guy Fieri for reasons passing understanding. (Roger Kisby via Getty Images)

After a five-year stint, Marc Whitten — the man in charge of Fire TV, the Kindle and more — has stepped down as Amazon's VP of entertainment devices and services. News of Whitten's departure was spotted yesterday by consultant Matthew Ball on Twitter (via The Verge), and Whitten himself said in a subsequent tweet noting that he is now "just digging in" as SVP and GM of game engine maker Unity's Create division.

As it turns out, though, Whitten actually left decamped for Unity a few weeks ago. CEO John Riccitiello confirmed the former Amazon exec was joining during the company's Q4 earnings call, calling him an "incredible leader in the world of tech and entertainment" and noting that, because the company has so many projects in the works, bringing Whitten onboard is meant to help Unity "map and make sure that the opportunity is met with the ability to realize it."

Prior to his tenure at Amazon, Whitten served as chief product officer at Sonos, where he helped usher Trueplay and the well-reviewed Play:5 speaker to market. And before that, Whitten spent over a decade at Microsoft and came to oversee the launches of three generations of Xboxes and Xbox Live. His hands were arguably most full at Amazon, though, where he effectively oversaw near all of the company's hardware efforts, along with a growing line of services.

Case in point: Whitten most recently came to oversee Amazon Luna, the on-demand streaming game service that has slowly expanded to run on PCs, Macs, iOS, Android and — as of just yesterday — all Fire TV devices. That's enough to give Luna one of the biggest footprints of any cloud gaming platform available in the US, and the good news for Amazon doesn't end there. Word of Google's decision to kill its first-party Stadia studios is vindication for Amazon's focus on providing access to existing games from partners like Ubisoft, rather than developing its own Luna-exclusive titles. That's not a bad note to leave on, all things considered.