Rovio CEO Rantala steps down after a year on the job

Steven Loeb · December 9, 2015 · Short URL:

The company says it is shifting more of its decision making to its Games and Media divisions

Angry Birds studio Rovio has been having a rough time as of late, with its game not doing as well as they once did, resulting in big cuts. That turmoil is being reflected in its leadership turnover, as the company is about to have its third CEO in the last year and a half.

On Wednesday Rovio announced that Kati Levoranta, who has been Chief Legal Officer at Rovio since 2012, will be it's new CEO. In addition she has also headed the company’s sales for the EMEA region since March 2015.

She will be replacing Pekka Rantala, who had decided to step down after he took over the job from long-time CEO Mikael Hed in August of last year. Rantala will stay on as CEO until the end of the year to "ensure a smooth leadership transition."

The reason given for Rantala's resignation is that the company is "shifting more operational responsibility and decision-making into its two business divisions Games and Media," specifically with a focus on the upcoming Angry Birds Movie, which is set to hit theaters sometime in 2016.

“I want to thank all employees for their tremendous and exceptional support during my time here,” Rantala said in a statement. “Now that we have sharpened our organisational focus and set the table for an exciting 2016, I feel now the time is right for me to step aside and move on to new challenges. Kati has been an amazing colleague, and I know that I am leaving the company in excellent hands.”

None of this is out of the blue; Rovio has been going in this direction for some time. Over the summer the studio revealed that it would be cutting 260 jobs out of 670 total employees, a total of nearly 39% of its workforce. The lay offs happened nearly across the board, with only one division being spared: those working on the production of the The Angry Birds Movie.

Rovio has previously fired 110 of its employees in October of last year. The company had roughly 800 employees in 2013, so that would mean it has now laid off 370 of those workers, or nearly half its workforce. 

These layoffs will likely be the most lasting legacy of Rantala's time in charge, along with the relative failure of the studio's game to live up to its previous success. The company released Angry Birds 2 in July and the game was downloaded over 20 million times in its first week alone, becoming one of the top downloaded apps, but the game quickly fell. After only a month it was already behind the original Angry BIrds in the app ranks.

The new CEO is not the only leadership change that Rovio made. It also named Hed, as the head of Rovio’s media business including the production of The Angry Birds Movie. In addition, Wilhelm Taht, who previously served as Head of Rovio Stars, Rovio’s publisher of games produced by third-party developers, will lead the company’s games unit.

It seem as though Rovio is putting a lot (maybe too much) stock into the success of the Angry Birds Movie, which seems like something that probably should have come out around five years ago at this point. 

“We are now positioned to make the most of the release of The Angry Birds Movie in May and some exciting developments in the games and consumer products portfolios throughout 2016," said Levoranta. 

"I’m looking forward to continuing to collaborate closely with Mikael Hed and Wilhelm Taht in our new roles, and working with all Rovio employees as we take our business to new heights together.”

Founded in 2003, Rovio has raised €57.86 million in funding, including €25 million in debt financing from the European Investment Bank.

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