Unity CEO John Riccitiello is stepping down from the gaming software company following a controversial pricing change that drew criticism from developers. Riccitiello, who has been leading Unity for nine years, will also relinquish his role as chairman and exit the board. The decision comes after Unity faced backlash over a pricing adjustment announced in September, upsetting developers who heavily rely on the platform for video game creation. A group of game developers publicly protested the change, stating it jeopardizes developers of all sizes and was made without industry consultation. Unity later modified the update to address developer concerns and expressed regret for the confusion caused by the runtime fee policy.
James Whitehurst, the former CEO of Red Hat, will take over as Unity’s interim CEO, while Roelof Botha, the lead independent director of Unity’s Board and a partner at Sequoia Capital, will assume the role of chairman. Unity plans to begin the search for a permanent CEO, and Riccitiello will continue to advise the company during the transition.
Unity, which went public in 2020 and had a valuation of $17 billion after its first day of trading, has seen a decline in its market capitalization, which currently stands at just over $11 billion. The departure of Riccitiello follows a turbulent period for the company, marked by the pricing controversy and broader declines in the tech sector in 2022.
Riccitiello expressed gratitude for leading Unity over the past decade and serving its various stakeholders. He looks forward to supporting Unity during the transition and witnessing the company’s future success.
Unity’s stock closed down 1.5% at $29.70 following the announcement. The company is expected to continue refining its strategies and policies under new leadership, with a focus on maintaining its position as a key player in the gaming software industry.