John Riccitiello steps down as unity CEO with former Red Hat chief exec Jim Whitehurst taking over for now


Weeks after upsetting developers with a proposed runtime fee, only to quickly backtrack on the idea, Unity announced today that CEO John Riccitiello was stepping down from his multiple roles as president, CEO and board chair, going from having a ton of responsibility to having a lot of time on his hands.

In a surprise move, the company turned to a seasoned enterprise executive, announcing that former Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst would be taking over the role for now. Whitehurst is a placeholder while the company searches for a permanent replacement, according to the company. Roelof Botha, who is the lead independent board member, will take over as board chair for the time being.

“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,” Whitehurst said in smooth statement, but whether that’s the case or not time will tell.

As TechCrunch’s own Devin Coldewey wrote last month, the pricing scheme caught the community off guard and the response was universally negative, leading to the company backtracking on the proposal:

The changes were announced only last week, and immediately attracted the ire of nearly everyone in the gaming community, prompting a panicked “clarification” soft-pedaling of the “runtime fee” that would be owed with every install of a game past a certain level of revenue. The plan was intensely unpopular, as apart from the increased costs many would incur under it, it suggested that the people running the show at Unity were completely disconnected from the community.

The leadership change creates a period of uncertainty for the games engine as it looks for a new leadership team. The company stock is down 1.5% after hours. It will be reporting third-quarter results on November 9.



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