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EA CEO John Riccitiello resigns, feels “accountable” for missing targets

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John RiccitielloAfter six years of successes, growth, transitions and stumbling blocks, EA CEO John Riccitiello has resigned as chief executive officer at EA.

Writing in his resignation letter to executive chairman Larry Probst and the EA board, Riccitiello said that it was a “tough decision” to make, and despite EA’s successful transition into digital games and services, the CEO feels “accountable” for disappointing EA’s shareholders and employees after failing to adhere to year-old internal operating plans, and falling short of financial guidance.

Riccitiello will continue on as EA CEO until March 30th, at which time he will be temporarily replaced by Probst, who previously served as EA CEO from 2001 until 2007, making way for Riccitiello.

Following the announcement, Probst wrote in a public statement:

“We thank John for his contributions to EA since he was appointed CEO in 2007, especially the passion, dedication and energy he brought to the company every single day.

“John has worked hard to lead the company through challenging transitions in our industry, and was instrumental in driving our very significant growth in digital revenues. We appreciate John’s leadership and the many important strategic initiatives he has driven for the company. We have mutually agreed that this is the right time for a leadership transition.”

In a publicly available release, Riccitiello said of EA and his time at the publisher:

“EA is an outstanding company with creative and talented employees, and it has been an honor to serve as the company’s CEO. I am proud of what we have accomplished together, and after six years I feel it is the right time for me pass the baton and let new leadership take the company into its next phase of innovation and growth.

“I remain very optimistic about EA’s future ‒ there is a world-class team driving the company’s transition to the next-generation of game consoles.”

John Riccitiello’s resignation letter follows in full below:

“I hereby offer my resignation as CEO of Electronic Arts effective with the end of our Fiscal Year 13 on March 30, 2013.

“This is a tough decision, but it all comes down to accountability. The progress EA has made on transitioning to digital games and services is something I’m extremely proud of. However, it currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued in January, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. EA’s shareholders and employees expect better and I am accountable for the miss.

“I have been at the helm as EA’s CEO for six years and served as COO for nearly seven years starting in 1997. I know this company well, and I care deeply about its future success. I leave knowing EA is a great company, with an enormously talented group of leaders and the strongest slate of games in the industry. I could not be more proud of our company’s games, from Battlefield and FIFA, to The Simpsons: Tapped Out and Real Racing 3.

“We have built many great franchises that will serve the company well in FY14 and beyond. In particular, I am confident that the investments we have made in games for next-generation consoles will put EA in a strong leadership position for many years ahead.

“In offering my resignation, my goal is to allow the talented leaders at EA a clean start on FY14. I look forward to working with you in the coming weeks on an effective leadership transition. I’m extremely honored to have led this company and proud to have worked with all the great people at Electronic Arts.”

Sincerely,

  • John Riccitiello

What do you make of this news? Is it a poor sign for EA going forward, or was it necessary for Riccitiello to step down to allow for a different leadership team to guide the publisher into the future, and put the company on a path towards success as next generation consoles and the question of digital becomes increasingly important?

EA’s Probst is bullish:

“Looking ahead, EA’s strategy and future are rock solid. Our business is built on more than a dozen powerful, globally recognized brands. We are clear leaders in the fastest growing category in games — mobile — and we are positioned to lead on the next generation of consoles.

“Most importantly we have deep reserves of talent — new faces and industry veterans who form the core of EA’s leadership. We have an important year ahead of us and I look forward to working with all of you as we navigate the path to future success!”


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