Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has stepped down from his position and as a member of the company’s board of directors, effective on March 30th. Riccitiello cites his accountability as the reason for stepping down. He said that he is proud of the company’s transition to digital games, but the financial guidance that was issued in January will fall short of the company’s internal operating plan that was set one year ago. EA will be announcing their quarterly and fiscal year 2013 earnings on May 7th.
Larry Probst will replace Riccitiello. Probst will take on day-to-day leadership responsibilities to ensure a smooth transition. The company is searching for a replacement CEO while taking internal and external candidates into consideration. Probst was EA’s CEO between 1991 and 2007. He has been the Chairman of the Board since 1994.
Riccitiello was hired by EA in October 1997 as the President and COO. He left the company in 2004 to become a founding partner and managing director of Elevation Partners along with becoming chairman and CEO of VG Holdings, the company that created BioWare and Pandemic. EA acquired VG Holdings in October 2007 and Riccitiello became CEO of EA after that.
Riccitiello will receive 24 months of salary continuation and will get continued vesting of unvested stock options until November 30, 2013 with those options being exercisable until February 28, 2014.
Below is a resignation letter that Riccitiello sent out to the board:
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.