Rovio loses it’s second Head of Games in two years as Jami Laes leaves to start his own company. Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer David Byrne appointed to take over where Laes left.
Rovio‘s colorful megahit Angry Birds seems to have been losing some altitude lately. In December, it was announced that the Finnish game developer had to lay off 110 people and close its studio in Tampere, and back in September, it was revealed that CEO of the last five years, Michael Hed, would be stepping down in 2015, after a set of disappointing financial results.
But there seems to be more turbulence ahead for the feathered casual friends. This afternoon, Finnish finance-site Talouselämä reported that Head of Games, Jami Laes, had left the company to begin a new startup of his own, after less than two years in the position. According to Talouselämä, Jimi Laes plans to stay within the field of mobile gaming, but no further details have been revealed so far.
After Laes exit became known, Rovio has announced that Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer David Byrne will be taking over for Laes. Byrne has previous experience from positions at Playfish, Electronic Arts, Bullfrog, and KPMG.
Rovio’s website has already been updated to reflect the changes, removing Laes from the pages, but no official statement has been made from Rovio regarding his departure.
Jami Laes has a long history in the Finnish games industry. Before his stint at Rovio he worked at London-based Playfish, founded by fellow Finn Kristian Segerstråle, and before that he worked five years at Helsinki-based Digital Chocolate.
Laes’ predecessor as Head of Games at Rovio, Petri Järvilehto, also left Rovio to start his own company. In that case, it was the mobile developer Seriously, who are now enjoying great success with their debut game Best Fiends. And with Candy Crush Saga-responsible, Tommy Palm’s recent exit from King.com to do the same, it’s hard not to see this a a tendency across the Nordic games industry.
Rovio has been struggling for a while now to show that they can come up with a true successor to their original megahit, Angry Birds. While still successful, each iteration of the Angry Birds franchise seems to be met with increasingly diminishing returns.
While Rovio has been adept at placing a lot of their revenue outside the games themselves (an estimated 50% of the revenue is generated by merchandise and other spinn-offs), the games have always been key to keeping the IP popular. Something that does not look like it has gotten any easier with Laes exit.