How The Mighty Eagle Is Fallen — Rovio Announces Layoffs

Rovio Entertainment, the Finland-based maker of Angry Birds, among other games, is laying off 130 people, or 16% of its current workforce. The move comes because — you probably guessed this — it’s biggest game has gone off the boil and the newer games it’s producing are not taking up the slack, thus growth has been slower than they thought.

In a blog post today

CEO Mikael Hed calls all this a move towards a “simplified organisation”. Well, that’s one way of putting it. I’m sure all the sacked staff will be delighted to have been “simplified”.

Let’s just fisk his blog post shall we?

“We work in businesses that are so fast-moving that the only constant is change.”

Yes, this is obvious. Go on?

“At Rovio we have always been innovative and forward-looking, and to succeed we need to be the best at adapting to change.”

Would this be why you doubled down on one game for about 4 years in a row Mikael? Where exactly was the adaptation there? No, please go on, we’re all ears.

“We are an entrepreneurial company and have been exploring multiple areas.”

This sounds a little like – “we’ve been panicking trying to figure out what the hell to do now we can’t beat the dead Angry Birds horse any more.”

“We have been building our team on assumptions of faster growth than have materialised.”

The old nag just won’t get up! Someone press the Eagle button! Now!

“As a result, we announced today that we plan to simplify our organisation around our three key businesses with the highest growth potential: games, media, and consumer products.”

Sorry did we miss something? Aren’t games, media, and consumer products what you already do? What were you making before? Cheese? [My apologies, you were actually making cheese. This explain a lot].

“Unfortunately, we also need to consider possible employee reductions of a maximum of 130 people in Finland (approximately 16% of workforce).”


“It is never easy to consider changes like this, but it is better to do them sooner rather than later, when we are in a good place to reignite growth.”

Or maybe better to have seen them last year but you can’t have everything I guess?

“At Rovio we live to delight our fans. This year we have more launches and news than ever. As we consider these painful measures, we keep our eye on always delighting our fans with products they love.”

Ok, we wait to see some new product that doesn’t have the words Angry and Bird it in.

This news comes a few months after Rovio got a €25 million facility from the European Investment Bank, a very out of the ordinary move which left many wondering quite why Rovio would merit such special treatment. Perhaps they didn’t want to see another Nokia meltdown?

Hed is now on his way out as CEO, and the company is searching for another Big Bird.

Is it time for the Mighty Eagles to be put out of their misery? We certainly hope not, and Rovio has created a global phenomenon, that’s true. This company has a fair ground in China for heaven’s sake.

But games companies relying on big hits and a lot of franchising and soft toys must surely be re-looked at as a strategy going forward. You can’t keep trying to fluff up the feather of one brand forever…