John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity, the company whose 3D game engine had recently seen backlash from developers over proposed fee structures, will retire as CEO, president, and board chairman at the company, according to a press release issued late on a Monday afternoon, one many observe as a holiday.
Riccitiello “will continue to advise Unity to ensure a smooth transition,” the company stated, as it seeks to find a permanent CEO. James M. Whitehurst, a former Red Hat and IBM executive, will serve as interim CEO, while Roelof Botha, lead independent director of the Unity board, is now chairman.
“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. “I look forward to supporting Unity through this transition and following the Company’s future success.”
The timing of Riccitiello’s retirement is certainly intriguing, given Unity’s recent history. After announcing a per-install fee that many developers felt would endanger their livelihoods, Unity made major changes and has sent other executives on something of an apology tour. Riccitiello previously served as CEO at Electronic Arts, where his resignation came soon after a launch that seemed to follow soon after SimCity’s technically (if not financially) disastrous launch, though Riccitiello himself cited financial results.