Citing a ‘corporate’ decision making process that left the company slow to respond to competition, Rovio, the company behind the Angry Birds franchise, has announced that CEO Pekka Rantala is to step down after just one year. Current Chief Legal Officer Kati Levoranta is to take over as new CEO from the beginning of 2016.
In addition — and perhaps explaining why a legal bod is now in charge — Rovio says that more independence will be given to the company’s two main units, games and media, reports Reuters. The media unit will now be led by Mikael Hed, former Rovio CEO, while Wilhelm Taht, currently head of external products, will take charge of the games business.
In a rather telling comment, Rovio chairman and major shareholder, Kaj Hed, tells Reuters: “We used to have a corporate model with centralized decisions, but that resulted into too slow reacting in very competitive markets.”
The move also follows a spew of layoffs in October, 213 in total and comprising 25 per cent of employees, as the Finland-based games-maker restructured to focus on games, media and consumer products.
At the time, a spokesperson for Rovio confirmed that this would include pulling out of directly running its e-learning unit, with talk of spinning out the business and raising funding for it as a separate company.
Other areas Rovio has ventured into include book publishing and even ‘attractions’, which focused on building educational playgrounds in addition to purely entertainment-based theme parks.
That now has the smell of mission creep, although in Rovio’s heady days, following the runaway hit Angry Birds, the company looked to position itself as “the next disney“. This included developing further game titles, and a number of different products, from books to licensed bird and piggie toys and other merchandise to help grow its brand.