Atari today appointed chief operating officer Jeff Lapin to the position of CEO, making him the fourth man to lead the company in the last three years. Lapin is replacing David Gardner, who will remain with the company as a member of its board of directors. No reason was given for the switch.
Gardner was appointed to the position of CEO in January of 2008, after the resignation of his predecessor, Patrick Leleu. At the time, the company was still known as Infogrames; the French publisher turned the vintage gaming brand into a wholly owned subsidiary later in 2008 and made the name change official earlier this year. Leleu had held the CEO title for only nine months, taking over after Infogrames cofounder Bruno Bonnell ended his 24-year tenure with the company.
Lapin has held the COO position at Atari since May and has been on the board of directors for two years. He was also CEO for Take-Two Interactive in 2003 and 2004 and previously served in executive functions for THQ.
Atari is in the midst of an effort to reinvent itself with a stronger focus on online gaming. One of its biggest bets in that area, the December 2008 acquisition of massively multiplayer online game developer Cryptic Studios, has already produced one game, Champions Online. A second title from the studio, the long awaited Star Trek Online (pictured), is set to launch in February.
Gardner's tenure saw Atari make a number of high-profile moves, including the hiring of former Sony Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison to be the company's president and general director. Harrison would step down from that position after a little over a year on the job, but like Gardner, he remains with Atari as a member of the board of directors.