Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has resigned earlier today.
EA’s board of directors is still searching for a new director, but in the meanwhile EA veteran Larry Probst has been named the company's executive chairman.
Riccitiello’s resignation comes in wake of the Sim City DRM fiasco and it is hard not to connect the dots. In fact, a few sources hinted that the resignation wasn’t completely voluntary. Either way, the company’s stock rose by 5.45% in the few hours following the announcement.
"We have mutually agreed that this is the right time for a leadership transition," the new EA executive chairman, Larry Probst, said politely.
Riccitiello’s resignation will be effective on March 30th, but he will continue to receive his base salary for two more years as part of contract termination agreement. This amounts to a little more than $1.7 million.
John Riccitiello's full resignation letter reads as follows:
Mr. Larry Probst
Chairman Electronic Arts
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.
/s/ John Riccitiello