In what may seem like a surprising move (or maybe not, considering the circumstances), Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello will be stepping down from the big wig position, as well as giving up his position as a member of the Board of Directors. The resignation will go into effect March 30, and Larry Probst will assume acting CEO until the company finds a replacement.
Riccitiello says he takes full responsibility for EA’s less-than-stellar financial results as of late, and says that the company “will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance [EA] issued in January.” He also notes that the company has “fallen short of the internal operating plan” that was implemented a year ago.
Riccitiello says that “EA’s shareholders and employees expect better,” and he is “accountable for the miss.” Larry Probst will assume the day-to-day role as “Executive Chairman” in order to make sure that there’s a “smooth transition.” Probst was actually EA’s CEO from 1991 to 2007, and has served as Chairman of the Board since 1994.
Riccitiello joined EA in October 1997 as president and COO at the time, but he left the company in 2004 to spearhead a couple of projects, including becoming a co-founder and managing director of Elevation Partners, as well as chairman and CEO of VG Holdings. However, Riccitiello returned to EA in 2007 to take on the CEO role. Riccitiello’s full resignation letter can be read below.
March 17, 2013
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.