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Xbox Live Director of Policy Stephen Toulouse Leaving Microsoft

The man known as "Stepto" departing the company he's been with for 18 years.

Toulouse was part of the team that, among other things, was responsible for the banhammer.

Stephen Toulouse, commonly known as Stepto and the Microsoft’s Xbox Live director of policy and enforcement, is leaving Microsoft.

Toulouse made the announcement on his blog this morning.

“Over the past year I’ve been doing quite of bit of thinking,” he said. “Nothing specific, nothing groundbreaking. Just plain old thinking. I turn 40 this year. Despite the wonderful ability in Microsoft to change careers pretty dramatically inside the company, I’ve been there nearly 18 years and it’s the only world I’ve really ever known. I feel too strangely comfortable, and too strangely tied.”

One of Xbox 360’s most public faces will remain with the company until February 15, before spending a vacation on a cruise boat wondering about what to do next.

Toulouse intends to write another book (his first one recounted his nearly 20 years at Microsoft), but there are no permanent plans.

“I have no idea what the future holds, for the first time in my life," said Toulouse.

As someone who’s spoken with Toulouse several times, I’ve always enjoyed our conversations about Microsoft policy. I didn’t always get the answers I wanted from Toulouse, but few people at any company were as willing to engage in the debate as often as Toulouse would. It’s unclear who will take his spot, but he’ll be difficult to replace.

My last chat with Toulouse was regarding the state of Xbox Live security. You can read it here.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek
Toulouse was part of the team that, among other things, was responsible for the banhammer.

Stephen Toulouse, commonly known as Stepto and the Microsoft’s Xbox Live director of policy and enforcement, is leaving Microsoft.

Toulouse made the announcement on his blog this morning.

“Over the past year I’ve been doing quite of bit of thinking,” he said. “Nothing specific, nothing groundbreaking. Just plain old thinking. I turn 40 this year. Despite the wonderful ability in Microsoft to change careers pretty dramatically inside the company, I’ve been there nearly 18 years and it’s the only world I’ve really ever known. I feel too strangely comfortable, and too strangely tied.”

One of Xbox 360’s most public faces will remain with the company until February 15, before spending a vacation on a cruise boat wondering about what to do next.

Toulouse intends to write another book (his first one recounted his nearly 20 years at Microsoft), but there are no permanent plans.

“I have no idea what the future holds, for the first time in my life," said Toulouse.

As someone who’s spoken with Toulouse several times, I’ve always enjoyed our conversations about Microsoft policy. I didn’t always get the answers I wanted from Toulouse, but few people at any company were as willing to engage in the debate as often as Toulouse would. It’s unclear who will take his spot, but he’ll be difficult to replace.

My last chat with Toulouse was regarding the state of Xbox Live security. You can read it here.

Posted by nintendoeats

Well, they do have some annoying policies...

Edited by Napalm

I refuse to believe that he wasn't thrown under the bus in some capacity with all of the Xbox Live hacking issues. 
 
EDIT: Either that, or his leaving is tied to that in some capacity. This announcement just feels too convenient. But hey, if he wants to leave, good for him. I'm just pointing out a nagging feeling I have about this.

Posted by trelongxferris

DAMN!

Posted by Grilledcheez

I was never a fan of him personally, but good luck to him.

Posted by InternetDetective

ok

Posted by Dagbiker

Good riddance.

Posted by HatKing

I wish the average person had the financial security and balls to quit their job of eighteen years, go on a cruise and say 'idunno' when asked what their future plans were. Actually, I think that's fucking crazy for rich white guys in suits too. I doubt that he has no plans.

Posted by zyn

@Grilledcheez said:

I was never a fan of him personally, but good luck to him.

Posted by ProfessorEss

Man 18 years at a company is a long time. I can only imagine how much longer it feels at such a fast paced company as MS.

Like him or lump him hopefully they'll get someone who is as willing (as he could be I'm sure) to put himself out there.

Good luck.

Posted by Mattyboysmith

Seemed like a pretty reasonable, nice guy to me. I wish him all the best for the future!

Edited by ProfessorEss

@HatKing said:

I doubt that he has no plans.

You never know. Stress and the sense of stagnation are powerful forces. I'm sure more drastic decisions are made on a regular basis as a result of them.

Posted by chan05

Major Nelsons Podcast without Stepto??? NOOOO

Posted by mrfluke

@zyn said:

@Grilledcheez said:

I was never a fan of him personally, but good luck to him.

@Napalm said:

I refuse to believe that he wasn't thrown under the bus in some capacity with all of the Xbox Live hacking issues. EDIT: Either that, or his leaving is tied to that in some capacity. This announcement just feels too convenient. But hey, if he wants to leave, good for him. I'm just pointing out a nagging feeling I have about this.

but this, that dude LOVVVVEEEDDDD Microsoft, so he had to have gotten in trouble,

Posted by alternate

Whatever you think of him he didn't make the shitty MS policies - was just a public face of them. His replacement is not going to be any less of a corporate shill, that is the job.

Posted by Napalm
@chan05 said:

Major Nelsons Podcast without Stepto??? NOOOO

I was actually a bigger fan of the podcast back when it was, "we're just going to come in to the office on a day when nobody's here and take up a conference room and talk about our holiday family mishaps."
Posted by KaneRobot

hopefully replaced by someone a tad more effective.

Posted by MisterMouse

I am interested to see what he does next.

Posted by TrafalgarLaw

Goodbye coorporate dickwad, we won't miss you.

Posted by Sooty

Haha. Toolhouse.

Edited by aceofspudz

The consensus seems to be that the person occupying this position is a public figure with very little authority, who exists mostly to be publicly dismissed when something inevitably goes wrong.

If my star were rising at Microsoft, I would avoid this job like the plague. However it might be useful to pursue if you were out of options and hope you can ride out a couple years without a major hacking scandal.

Posted by GolazoDan

I blame Patrick.

Posted by yami4ct

@Napalm said:

I refuse to believe that he wasn't thrown under the bus in some capacity with all of the Xbox Live hacking issues. EDIT: Either that, or his leaving is tied to that in some capacity. This announcement just feels too convenient. But hey, if he wants to leave, good for him. I'm just pointing out a nagging feeling I have about this.

Again, this is all just speculation, but I'm more inclined he just left due to it, not that he was fired for it. From what he's said about the process and his limited resources, I can't imagine how he's dealt with the recent influx of trouble. He probably quit of of frustration with the system.

Posted by Napalm
@yami4ct said:

@Napalm said:

I refuse to believe that he wasn't thrown under the bus in some capacity with all of the Xbox Live hacking issues. EDIT: Either that, or his leaving is tied to that in some capacity. This announcement just feels too convenient. But hey, if he wants to leave, good for him. I'm just pointing out a nagging feeling I have about this.

Again, this is all just speculation, but I'm more inclined he just left due to it, not that he was fired for it. From what he's said about the process and his As limited resources, I can't imagine how he's dealt with the recent influx of trouble. He probably quit of of frustration with the system.

That's what I meant initially, is that it was either pressure in some form, or his frustration and compression from all of the recent turmoil. I was propositioning it as an either/or. As I mentioned, it just feels too convenient for the recent events not to be involved in some capacity.
Posted by NipCrip66

I really liked his discussion with Jonathan Blow on the E3 podcast and felt he defended MS policy very well against someone who obviously wanted far less restrictions.

I agree that he has probably left because of all the grief of his role in the last 12 months. I know I wouldn't want to stick around just to get shit from users and not be properly supported by my employers.

Posted by yami4ct

@Napalm said:

@yami4ct said:

@Napalm said:

I refuse to believe that he wasn't thrown under the bus in some capacity with all of the Xbox Live hacking issues. EDIT: Either that, or his leaving is tied to that in some capacity. This announcement just feels too convenient. But hey, if he wants to leave, good for him. I'm just pointing out a nagging feeling I have about this.

Again, this is all just speculation, but I'm more inclined he just left due to it, not that he was fired for it. From what he's said about the process and his As limited resources, I can't imagine how he's dealt with the recent influx of trouble. He probably quit of of frustration with the system.

That's what I meant initially, is that it was either pressure in some form, or his frustration and compression from all of the recent turmoil. I was propositioning it as an either/or. As I mentioned, it just feels too convenient for the recent events not to be involved in some capacity.

Totally agree. Love him or hate him, that guy had a tough job if everything he says is true. They're managing all the users on XBL with a tiny, tiny team and a antiquated system that wasn't made for the volume they're dealing with. Add to that the wide=spread FIFA issue, and I could imagine how the job could take over his life. If that's the case, I feel for the guy. I really hope MSoft is more prepared to deal with this next generation.

Posted by ProfessorEss

@NipCrip66 said:

I really liked his discussion with Jonathan Blow on the E3 podcast and felt he defended MS policy very well against someone who obviously wanted far less restrictions.

I liked it too. Unfortunately that discussion left me with substantially less respect for Blow himself.

Posted by Napalm
@yami4ct: Hopefully they have learned a bunch and will apply it to their next system. I mean, this is the first console generation where we have this crazy, trans-technological system, where everything can be accessed from everything else. Nobody really knew it was going to get this complicated and huge.
Posted by ProfessorEss

@Napalm said:

Nobody really knew it was going to get this complicated and huge.

It really did happen shockingly fast.

Posted by Branthog

Rumor is, he's moving to GiantBomb to moderate the forums. :)

Posted by Branthog

@ProfessorEss said:

Man 18 years at a company is a long time. I can only imagine how much longer it feels at such a fast paced company as MS.

Actually, it's not very long, at all. I've been at my current company for going on sixteen years and it doesn't feel like much time has passed at all.

Posted by Infininja

@Napalm said:

@chan05 said:

Major Nelsons Podcast without Stepto??? NOOOO

I was actually a bigger fan of the podcast back when it was, "we're just going to come in to the office on a day when nobody's here and take up a conference room and talk about our holiday family mishaps."

I can't listen to it any more. I know he works for Microsoft, but everything is so goddamn positive. There's no critical thought.

Posted by BisonHero

@ProfessorEss said:

@NipCrip66 said:

I really liked his discussion with Jonathan Blow on the E3 podcast and felt he defended MS policy very well against someone who obviously wanted far less restrictions.

I liked it too. Unfortunately that discussion left me with substantially less respect for Blow himself.

I thought Toulouse didn't defend MS policy very well at all, other than the standard "hey man, big corporations are incredibly resistant to policy change, and most XBLA games aren't imaginative enough that the policies are that big of a deal, so tough luck". I thought his response to Blow's criticism was terrible.

But I do also agree that it reflected sort of poorly on Blow, since he really kept pressing the issue to the point that things got pretty tense, on what was otherwise a pretty relaxed podcast. It didn't really seem like the right time or place, but I imagine it was Blow's only chance to personally confront someone at MS in a public forum, so he took advantage of it. Depending on your viewpoint, that may or may not be self-serving.

Posted by HoboZero

Always possible he (and his family) just got fed up with receiving prank calls and death threats at home from disgruntled users. I know I'd be transferring to another department far away from Xbox Live after the first incident. Kudos to him for sticking it out as long as he did and remaining sane,

Posted by TheHBK

He probably got fired and they just asked him for his resignation. A step down message like that would come with some indication of better opportunities popping up.

Posted by ComicZer0

I guess he's got nothing Toulouse...

Posted by JynnanTonnyx

Should be interesting to see who steps up in his place - he was a public figure for Xbox policy, and I can't name any one else from his team. No one else got the same amount of visibility from the games press.

Posted by Ghostiet
@Punkgasm said:
I guess he's got nothing Toulouse...
HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Posted by Chindie

Didn't like his last interview with GB, which amounted to 'These issues with Xbox Live, they're all end user idiocy, don't blame us'. Didn't like his presence at the E3 podcast he appeared on, where he and his colleague came across to me as the Microsoft Super Happy Fun Propaganda Hour.

I guess I'm not fan... but I can't say I've encountered him much asides from the above.

Posted by Dany

I listen to him on th podcast with major Nelson! :( how sad, the last one didn't mention whys he leaving

This sucks!

Edited by Brackynews

@Punkgasm said:

I guess he's got nothing Toulouse...

C'mon punk, stepto me. /banhammer

Aaaand I just clicked the wrong button on my toolbar and added Stepto my wishlist. So that's weird.

Expected to ship in 3-5 weeks.
Posted by Cramjomlin

Just listened to Major Nelson's most recent podcast, and this wasn't mentioned at all! Sad to see him go.

Posted by Dany
@Infininja He is the most critical on the podcast but that isn't saying a lot, he would bring up the other two consoles more pften
Posted by Winternet

@Ghostiet said:

@Punkgasm said:
I guess he's got nothing Toulouse...
HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

ZING!

Posted by ThePhilatron

Very curious development.

Posted by AjayRaz

@Punkgasm said:

I guess he's got nothing Toulouse...

i can't remember the last time i laughed so hard at a comment

Posted by Napalm

@Punkgasm said:

I guess he's got nothing Toulouse...

Somebody give this guy a fuckin' medal. Hot damn.

Posted by PJ

@Branthog said:

@ProfessorEss said:

Man 18 years at a company is a long time. I can only imagine how much longer it feels at such a fast paced company as MS.

Actually, it's not very long, at all. I've been at my current company for going on sixteen years and it doesn't feel like much time has passed at all.

I think what he means is that alot of stuff has happened at MS the past 18years and with the company both growing and evolving it might seem like you've been there for much longer. For someone that's been at the company för almost 20years, the Xbox launche for instance, might seem like it was a lifetime ago.

Posted by iAmJohn

@Punkgasm said:

I guess he's got nothing Toulouse...
Posted by baconbits33

@TrafalgarLaw said:

Goodbye coorporate dickwad, we won't miss you.

Please learn to spell before you nonsensically criticize a guy that was simply a job that forced them to put up with people like you.

I'm sad to see him leave, I've never had an issue on MS Live other than idiotic ten year old kids pretending to be Marines..... God that is so damn annoying....

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