Angry Birds is changing direction in its efforts to stay aloft. Rovio, maker of the hit mobile game, announced that Pekka Rantala, its chief executive, would step down about a year after he joined the Finnish company.
Under Mr Rantala, a former executive at Nokia and Hartwall, Rovio has cut more than 200 jobs, representing about a third of its workforce, while forecasting falling profits this year.
The company said that Kati Levoranta, chief legal officer, would take over as chief executive from the start of 2016. Mr Rantala said: “The time is right for me to step aside and move on to new challenges.”
One of the most downloaded mobile apps, Angry Birds was an early success of the smartphone era, but the mobile games industry has shifted away from paid-for apps towards a “freemium” model.
Titles such as Clash of Clans, made by Finland’s Supercell, and Candy Crush Saga made by UK-based King Digital, make money from a small minority of players that buy “virtual items” to help them within games.
Rovio has attempted to expand into activities from theme parks and playgrounds to education and branded goods, but these efforts have floundered. Recently, the company invested $100m in the production of The Angry Birds Movie, due for release next year.
In August, Rovio said it had revenues of just €158m and operating profit of €10m in 2014, both down on the previous year’s level. At the time, it also said it would shut down its playground and education businesses to focus on its core businesses of gaming, media and consumer products.
On Wednesday, as part of Rovio’s continued restructuring, the company said it would be “shifting more operational responsibility and decision-making” to the heads of its two main divisions. Mikael Hed, a former chief executive of the company, will lead Rovio’s media business which includes licensing deals, while Wilhelm Taht will lead its games unit.
Kaj Hed, Rovio’s chairman, said: “As we move into the next phase of the Rovio story, we will be getting back to our entrepreneurial roots with the leaner, more agile organisation.”
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