Unity, the company behind the game development engine of the same name, has just announced that its president, CEO, and chairman John Riccitiello “will retire” effective immediately.
“The Board will initiate a comprehensive search process, with the assistance of a leading executive search firm, to identify a permanent CEO,” reads the press release, adding that James Whitehurst will step in as interim CEO, president, and board member. “Mr. Riccitiello will continue to advise Unity to ensure a smooth transition.”
Notably, Unity’s new interim CEO is an outsider: Whitehurst is an advisor at Silver Lake, a private equity firm that owns about 9 percent of Unity.
While the press release makes no mention of it, this is happening amidst a giant game industry controversy after Unity introduced a new pricing model and retroactively changed its Terms of Service, breaking trust with many game developers in the process.
Many were quick to point to Riccitiello’s history of making controversial statements and decisions around monetization, both at Unity and as EA’s CEO, including my colleague Tom Warren:
On September 25th, Unity’s Marc Whitten repeatedly apologized for the incident, saying that he was “committed to making sure that we continue to work as hard as we can to earn your trust,” but some developers have decided that they don’t trust the company anymore.
“I don’t know of anyone formally retracting their ‘I wont use unity ever again’ statement,” my colleague Ash Parrish, who’s been reporting on this Unity saga since the beginning, tells me. “I think folks will still use it for in-flight projects but increasingly look for ways out for their next ones.”