In a surprising turn of events, John Riccitiello, the CEO of Unity Technologies, has stepped down from his role in the midst of a pricing dispute that caused an uproar among the company’s loyal developers. Unity, a leading game development platform, announced this significant development in a press release. The company also revealed that James M. Whitehurst will take the reins as interim CEO and president, while Roelof Botha assumes the position of chairman.
John Riccitiello Resigns as Unity CEO Amid Pricing Controversy, James M. Whitehurst Steps In as Interim Leader
The controversy began when Unity decided to increase its pricing model based on the number of downloads, a move that did not sit well with many game developers. In response to the backlash, Unity reversed its decision, but the damage was already done, leading to Riccitiello’s resignation.
To maintain stability and avoid stock market turbulence, Unity reaffirmed its earlier guidance for its fiscal third-quarter financial results, which are scheduled to be reported on November 9. Unity’s lead independent director, Roelof Botha, emphasized the company’s commitment to ensuring a smooth transition with Riccitiello’s continued advisory role.
Unity’s board of directors has initiated a comprehensive search process, with the assistance of a leading executive search firm, to identify a permanent CEO who will guide the company in the post-Riccitiello era.
Commenting on John Riccitiello’s departure, Roelof Botha, the lead independent director, acknowledged his significant contributions to Unity’s growth over the past decade. He praised Riccitiello for guiding Unity through a transition from perpetual licenses to a subscription model, enabling developers to monetize their creations and positioning the company as a pioneer in the developer community. Botha expressed his excitement for Unity’s future.
John Riccitiello also shared his thoughts on his departure, stating, “It’s been a privilege to lead Unity for nearly a decade and serve our employees, customers, developers, and partners, all of whom have been instrumental to the company’s growth.” He expressed his commitment to supporting Unity during the transition and following the company’s future success.
James M. Whitehurst, who has been appointed interim CEO and President, brings a wealth of experience to the role. He previously served as a senior advisor and president at IBM, having joined through IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat, a prominent provider of open-source enterprise IT products and services, where he served as president and CEO from 2008 to 2020.
Whitehurst expressed his honor in joining Unity during this crucial phase, expressing confidence in the company’s leadership and passionate employees. He looks forward to working closely with the board and the global team to execute Unity’s strategy seamlessly.
Unity will release its third-quarter 2023 financial results on Thursday, November 9, 2023, with a webcast to follow at 2 p.m. PT.
The departure of John Riccitiello and the appointment of James M. Whitehurst mark a pivotal moment in Unity’s journey, and the company remains resolute in its commitment to empowering developers and the gaming industry as a whole.