Entertainment Software Association president Doug Lowenstein sent a mass missive to more than 50 of what he called "my friends and colleagues in the video game industry" today confirming news of his decision to pursue a career outside the game industry.
In the e-mail, he says, "I am leaving my position as President of the ESA to assume a new job launching a start-up trade group in the investment industry." He says he will update the industry with more specific information later in the week. Lowenstein pinpointed late February or early March as his new start date, presumably concurrent with his official resignation from his post at the ESA.
While he calls leaving the ESA "difficult and sad," he added, "I have a strong sense of loyalty to the industry which entrusted me with the responsibility of representing them, and to the incredibly talented team which has accomplished so much at ESA." He says, "Today, [the] ESA is stronger than it has ever been."
In the official ESA statement, ESA chairman and president of Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division, Robbie Bach, had these words for Lowenstein: "As the founding president of this organization, Doug built ESA into a very effective and influential trade association fully and articulately representing the interests of our members. He leaves behind a tremendous record of accomplishments which provides us with the foundation for continued growth and success. We wish him well in his new role."
Lowenstein called his 12-year tenure with the trade organization that represents the major game publishers in North America "an amazing journey of personal and professional discovery, growth and accomplishment."
While a search to replace Lowenstein is stated to be ongoing, industry sources say Bach will assume the primary responsibilities of the ESA president for the time being.
[UPDATE] Shortly after the ESA's statement crossed the wires this morning, Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) president Bo Andersen checked in with his comments on the transition. Anderson praised Lowenstein, saying he had done "a tremendous job creating ESA from scratch and building it into a positive and influential institution in the video game industry," and that "our industry owes him a great 'thank you' for his leadership."
The EMA was born of an April 2006 merger of the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) and the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) and lays claim to "advancing the interests of the $32 billion home entertainment industry."