DALLAS, TEXAS - September 18, 2007 - JJ Richards, the general manager of the Xbox LIVE Entertainment and Devices Division, Microsoft Corporation, will be the commencement speaker at the sixth graduation class of The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University on September 22.
“We have been very fortunate to have industry leaders and icons serve as our commencement speaker,” Dr. Peter E. Raad, executive director of The Guildhall at SMU, said.“JJ follows in the foot steps of our two last commencement speakers, Richard Garriott of NCsoft and Randy Pittchford of Gearbox Software. With the release of Halo 3 on September 25, I’m sure JJ will have some very interesting things to say.”
Halo 3 is Microsoft’s blockbuster video game hit scheduled to be released next Tuesday at midnight. With already well over one million pre-order units out the door, Microsoft thinks Halo 3 is going to rake in $200 million on its first day sales, targeting Spider-Man's record-holding opening weekend movie box office of $151 million.
The Guildhall at SMU is a graduate level video game educational program. Students will receive a master’s in interactive technology or a graduate certificate in digital game development at the ceremony.
The SMU program is considered the premier graduate video game educational program n the country. The program has a 95 percent placement rate in the video game industry with 155 alums working at more than 65 video game studios around the world.
As general manager for LIVE, Richards drives strategy and manages the P&L for the LIVE business. He is responsible for building a vibrant cross-platform community and managing the business model around subscriptions, transactions, and advertising.
JJ graduated Phi Beta Kappa from SMU with a major in Political Science and 4 minors in Asian Studies, Economics, Math,&Physics.
Richards joined Microsoft in 2002, following a ten-year career at McKinsey&Company, where he focused on consumer high-tech and growing new online businesses. While at McKinsey he received his MBA from Harvard University.
At Microsoft, he spent three years heading strategy and business development for the Microsoft Business Division, where he was responsible for the growth strategy around Office and managing the portfolio of information worker applications.
He joined Xbox after the release of Halo2 and began building the next generation of online gaming. With the arrival of Xbox 360, Richards launched the next generation of Xbox Live, Marketplace, Arcade, and MS Points. Since then, Richards has launched video chat via Xbox Live Vision, built the leading high-definition VOD service, extended Live to the PC via Games for Windows—LIVE, and added advertising capabilities to both the platform and online games.
Under Richard’s leadership, Xbox Live became profitable, grew to 7 million members, created a $125m+ ecosystem of micro-transactions, and continues to be THE differentiator for the Xbox 360, winning acclaim for being the world’s best online gaming service.
The graduation ceremony is open to the public. For more information, go to www.guildhall.smu.edu