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Unity’s John Riccitiello steps down as CEO after fee controversy

James Whitehurst will act as interim CEO and president

John Riccitiello is retiring as Unity’s CEO, president, and chairman and stepping away from the company board following the recent Unity runtime fee controversy. Unity made the announcement in a press release and said Riccitiello’s retirement is effective immediately.

“It’s been a privilege to lead Unity for nearly a decade and serve our employees, customers, developers and partners, all of whom have been instrumental to the Company’s growth,” Riccitiello said. “I look forward to supporting Unity through this transition and following the Company’s future success.”

Unity gave no reason for his sudden departure, though Riccitiello will remain in an advisory capacity while the company begins searching for a new, permanent CEO. Meanwhile, James Whitehurst, formerly of IBM, will take over as interim CEO and president. 

John Riccitiello, a white man with short silver hair and heavy eyes, is depicted wearing a jacket and collared shirt.

John Riccitiello is retiring immediately after working at Unity for 10 years.

Roelof Botha, Unity’s lead independent director of the board and venture capitalist on multiple company boards, including Square and Xoom, has been appointed Chairman.

“Working with Unity under John's leadership has been one of the highlights of my career,” Botha said. “John has led Unity through incredible growth over the last nearly 10 years [and] I remain excited for the future of Unity.”

Riccitiello’s departure comes a few weeks after Unity announced a change in its fee structure that would see developers charged every time a consumer downloaded their game. The company made extensive changes to the policy after intense backlash. While many developers approved of the new version, they also said they lost trust in Unity after that incident, in part after learning that Unity developed its original policy without speaking with developers and publishing partners.