Former EA boss John Riccitiello is new CEO of Unity, as David Helgason steps down to assume a more strategic position within the company.
The rumors about a Unity sale had been circulating for some time. But it was a completely different kind of news that now former CEO David Helgason revealed on the officiel Unity blog just a few hours ago. As of yesterday evening, Helgason is no longer the CEO of Unity, but has stepped down in order for former CEO of Electronic Arts, John Riccitiello, to take his place. David Helgason will remain within the company, but will transition to a as-of-yet unnamed role, which will include “strategy, and connecting with developers”.
John Riccitiello, with his AAA heritage, may seem like an odd choice, given Unity’s indie roots. But the fact is, that Riccitiello has already been on the Unity Board for a year. And to Nordic Game Bits, Helgason described what it is he believes Riccitiello will be able to contribute with.
John has an enormous experience with managing companies of different types and sizes, and he is one of the most skilled leaders I have ever met.
“But when I met him a year and a half ago, I was more impressed by how clearly he saw our vision and how much he helped me think about our strategic position and possibilities,” Helgason explains. “He has already worked closely with me as a very active member of the board since November last year, and now I can finally pass on a lot of operational responsibility to him, while I can focus on listening to our customers and partners and work with him on our strategy going forward.”
David Helgason also reaffirmed to Nordic Game Bits that Unity is still not for sale, and that the statment made by CTO Joachim Ante just over a week ago, where he stated that there were “no plan to sell Unity”, still stands.
Absolutely. We believe that Unity has a long and healthy future ahead of it, but there were so many rumors in circulation, that we had to do something to stop the feedback in the echo-chamber.
“And I think we managed to do that okay, so that we can now focus on what we believe in, which is our long term strategy,” Helgason says to Nordic Game Bits.
In the weeks leading up to the re-positioning Helgason, the air has been thick with rumors of sales, even if no concrete information or named sources have been able to confirm the rumors. The rumors will not completely die out, though, as there are now some who speculate that making John Riccitiello CEO is merely a preparation for a later sale or IPO, which will let him groom the company and get it set up for an exit for the founders. However, in the official press release regarding his appointment as CEO, Riccitiello states that he is there because he believes in Unity’s long term vision about making game development tools available to everybody.
“Unity has been a hugely positive force in the games industry for years. Now it’s my incredible fortune to have the opportunity to help guide Unity going forward.”
“Unity is more than a great engine or packages of services, it’s an amazing and diverse community of developers, many of which are changing the way we think about game design and production. Unity’s mission, to democratize development, is an important one that I’m very happy to help drive forward.”
John Riccitiello was President and Chief Operating Officer of Electronic Arts (EA) from 1997 to 2004 and later brought back as CEO from 2007 to 2013.