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Unity bosses sold stock days before development fees announcement, raising eyebrows

CEO Riccitiello sold 50k shares this year.

Unity CEO John Riccitiello.
Image credit: David Fitzgerald/Web Summit via Sportsfile

Unity executives sold thousands of shares in the weeks leading up to last night's hugely controversial announcement it will soon charge developers when one of their games is downloaded.

The company has subsequently softened its stance slightly on a couple of aspects - but fury across the industry remains.

Behind the scenes, CEO John Riccitiello shifted 2000 shares last week on 6th September, as noted by Yahoo Finance, which noted this move was part of a trend over the past year where the exec has sold more than 50,000 shares in total and bought none.

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Several others on Unity's board of directors also sold shares in the past few weeks, including president of growth Tomer Bar-Zeev who sold 37.5k shares on 1st September, for around $1.4m. Shlomo Dovrat, meanwhile, sold 68k shares on 30th August for around $2.5m.

"Pretty cool to see," UK developer and director at Brightrock Games Scott Richmond ironically wrote on X, formerly Twitter today, highlighting the issue.

Unity has been run by John Riccitiello since 2014, following two infamous runs at the top of EA from 1997 to 2004, and then from 2007 to 2013.

His second tenure at EA saw the company launch Origin and Project Ten Dollar (remember that?), and throw millions at Star Wars: The Old Republic in a bid to topple World of Warcraft. His time at EA ended with him handing his resignation to the company's board after failing to sufficiently boost its share price.

Riccitiello has hit the headlines while CEO of Unity, too. Last year, he apologised after labelling developers that don't prioritise monetisation in the creative process as "some of the biggest fucking idiots".

"My word choice was crude. I am sorry. I am listening and I will do better," he later said.

Unity laid off nearly 300 people to save money in January this year, after losing around 200 more in June 2022.

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