Amid Clash With Hacker, Daybreak Boss Smedley Steps Down

[Update] Smedley will not return to studio; Is moving on to a new venture.

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[UPDATE] Smedley has announced he has left Daybreak entirely in order to pursue a new unnamed venture.

"On behalf of Daybreak, we wish Smed well in his new endeavors," the studio said. "Any questions regarding his new business should be directed to him." [UPDATE ENDS]

John Smedley, the founder of Sony Online Entertainment and chief executive of its reformed company Daybreak, is stepping down from his role as head of the company.

It is not immediately clear if Smedley was asked to leave or if the move was his decision.

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The well-known games executive had managed his company for close to two decades, forming it in 1998 under the name Verant Interactive. In 2000, Sony purchased the San Diego business and renamed it Sony Online Entertainment, with Smedley still in charge of day-to-day operations. Then in February, Sony sold the firm to Columbus Nova, and Smedley's studio was renamed Daybreak.

Throughout this time, the San Diego developer has launched numerous popular MMO franchises such as EverQuest, PlanetSide, DC Universe Online, The Matrix Online, and H1Z1.

But in recent years Smedley has been repeatedly targeted by a convicted hacker and internet troll, Julius “Zeekill” Kivimaki, who managed to ground a plane that Smedley was on board in 2014 by issuing a hoax bomb threat.

An increasingly bitter row between the two has begun to boil over into social media. In early July, Smedley appeared displeased by the decision of a court in Espoo, Finland, to not imprison Kivimaki despite convicting him of more than 50,000 internet-related crimes.

At one stage, Smedley appeared to threaten Kivimaki, writing: "His parents need to be held accountable for his actions in addition to his going to jail. So I'm coming for you Julius."

Now, in a statement issued to GamesBeat, a representative for Daybreak explained that Smedley was taking time off, and would return under a different role.

“I can confirm that John Smedley will be taking some time off from the company for the near-term and transitioning to a different role to be determined,” the spokesperson said.

“Upon finalization of his plans, further communication will be provided.”

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