Electronic Arts chief executive officer John Riccitiello will resign from his position at the FIFA and Battlefield publisher after six years effective March 30, the company announced today. In addition, he will no longer be a member of the publisher's board of directors.
The EA board of directors has appointed longtime EA executive Larry Probst as executive chairman of the publisher while a search is conducted for Riccitiello's permanent replacement. Probst has been in a leadership position at EA since 1991 and was CEO from 1991 to 2007. The Board will consider internal and external candidates, the company said, with the help of a "leading executive search firm."
"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," Probst said in a statement. "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."
Riccitiello offered his own comments on his decision to leave EA. He praised the publisher and its employees and said he is optimistic about the company's future with next-generation consoles on the horizon.
"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."
"EA is an outstanding company with creative and talented employees, and it has been an honor to serve as the Company’s CEO," Riccitiello said in a statement. "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.
The internal memo Riccitiello sent to Probst regarding his resignation was published by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It states that the "tough" decision to leave was a matter of being accountable to shareholders.
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."
As part of Riccitiello's separation agreement with EA, he will continue to draw a salary for 24 months.