John Riccitiello steps down as CEO of Unity after pricing battle

John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity, has resigned from the company in the wake of a pricing controversy that left developers in open revolt.

Unity said in a press release that James M. Whitehurst has been appointed interim CEO and president of the company.

Meanwhile, hoping to avoid a stock panic, Unity said that it is reaffirming its previous guidance for its fiscal third quarter financial results, which will be reported on November 9.

Roelof Botha, lead independent director of the Unity board, has been appointed chairman. Riccitiello will continue to advise Unity to ensure a smooth transition, the company said. The news isn’t a surprise as Unity angered a lot of its loyal game developers a few weeks ago after pushing through a price increase based on numbers of downloads — and then retracted it after an uproar.


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Unity said the board will initiate a comprehensive search process, with the assistance of a leading executive search firm, to identify a permanent CEO.

“Working with Unity under John’s leadership has been one of the highlights of my career. John joined the Unity Board in 2013 and stepped in to lead the company in 2014, at a time when we faced significant challenges,” Botha said, in a statement. “John has led Unity through incredible growth over the last nearly 10 years, helping us transition from a perpetual license to a subscription model, enabling developers to monetize, building other game services to serve our creator community, leading us through an IPO and positioning us as a pioneer in the developer community. Unity would not be where it is today without the impact of his contributions. I remain excited for the future of Unity.”

“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,” Riccitiello said in a statement. “I look forward to supporting Unity through this transition and following the company’s future success.”

Whitehurst is a seasoned technology and public company executive. He previously served as senior advisor and president at IBM, after joining through IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat, a leading provider of open-source enterprise IT products and services, where he served as president and CEO from 2008 to 2020.

“I am honored to join Unity as interim CEO and President at this important time in its evolution,” Whitehurst said in a statement. “With the company’s experienced leadership and passionate employees, I am confident that Unity is well-positioned to continue enhancing its platform, strengthening its community of customers, developers and partners, and focusing on its growth and profitability goals. I look forward to working closely with the Board and our talented global team to execute on our strategy, and I anticipate a seamless transition.”

Unity will release third quarter 2023 financial results after the market close on Thursday, November 9, 2023, with a webcast to follow at 2 p.m. PT.

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