John Riccitiello, the CEO of Electronic Arts, has sent in his resignation papers. The transition will take effect on March 30th. Former chairman and board member Larry Probst will take over while the search for a replacement begins.
My money is on Peter Moore.
It'd be easy to pinpoint SimCity has the reason for his departure, but it's been a rough few years for EA. I'm not talking about their public image, either. Remember, while the company isn't well received now, this is the same publisher who helped save Brutal Legend, helped make Rock Band possible, and if it wasn't for EA, PS3 owners may have never experienced the Mass Effect franchise. But the company has endured some hard times during the U.S. Recession; their stock at the start of 2008 was at $50 a share. Thanks to a sharp plummet later in the year, it closed 2008 under $20 a share and has been hovering above and below that mark ever since.
Riccitiello started as CEO back in 2007. His tenure was best known for EA's acquisition of many studios, most notably Mythic Entertainment, BioWare, Pandemic Studios, and the attempted takeover of Take-Two.
Here's the full resignation letter, as obtained by The Wall Street Journal:
To Everyone at EA –
I am writing with some tough news. I have resigned my position as EA’s CEO. I will be around for a couple of weeks, and I hope to have the chance to say goodbye to many of you. Larry Probst will be stepping in as Executive Chairman to help smooth the transition. Larry first hired me at EA in 1997 and he was an incredible leader for the company during the 16 years he served as CEO. While he will continue to be the Chairman of the US Olympic Committee, he will also provide leadership for EA until a permanent CEO is appointed.
My decision to leave EA is really all about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year. It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable.
Personally, I think we’ve never been in a better position as a company. You have made enormous progress in improving product quality. You are now generating more revenue on fewer titles by making EA’s games better and bigger. You’ve navigated a rapidly transforming industry to create a digital business that is now approximately $1.5 billion and growing fast. The big investments you’ve made in creating EA’s own platform are now showing solid returns. I believe EA is alone in mastering the challenges of building a platform for our games and services – a platform that will provide a more direct relationship with our consumers. You are number one in the fastest growing segment, mobile, with incredible games like The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Real Racing 3, Bejeweled, SCRABBLE and Plants v. Zombies. You have worked to put EA in a position to capture industry leadership on the next generation of consoles; and I believe two of our titles – Battlefield and FIFA – will be among the top few franchises in the entire industry. And the industry’s most talented management team – Frank, Rajat, Peter, Gaby, Andrew, Patrick, Blake, Joel and Jeff — are certain to lead the company to a successful future.
I remain an incredible fan of EA and everyone who works in our world – from Stockholm to Seoul, Orlando to Edmonton, Guildford, Geneva, Cologne, Lyon, Bucharest, Montreal, Austin, Salt Lake, LA and, of course, EARS. My hope is that my travels and yours allow us the opportunity to talk more in the months and years to come.
In a few weeks, I will be leaving EA physically. But I will never leave emotionally. I am so incredibly proud of all the great things you have done, and it has been my honor to lead this team these past six years. After March, I will be cheering wildly for EA from the sidelines.