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CEO Of “Angry Birds” Maker Rovio Is Stepping Down

Rovio laid off a third of its workforce in October.

CEO Of “Angry Birds” Maker Rovio Is Stepping Down
[Photo: Ekaterina_Minaeva via Shutterstock]

Beleaguered gaming company Rovio–the maker of the Angry Birds franchise–announced yet another corporate shake-up today: Its CEO Pekka Rantala is stepping down.

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The past year has been a bumpy one for the Finnish company, which already reduced its workforce by nearly a third in October, when it cut 213 jobs in what it called a “massive reorganization.”

Pekka RantalaPhoto: via Rovio

Rantala leaves a post he held for a little over one year (the company tells Reuters the split is amicable). He was previously Rovio’s chief commercial officer and CEO of Finnish drinks maker Hartwall.

Chief legal officer Kati Levoranta will helm the company as group CEO beginning in the new year, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, the company’s two major arms–games and media–will get their own CEOs. Current head of external products Wilhelm Taht will oversee the gaming side, and Mikael Hed–Rantala’s predecessor as CEO and one of Fast Company‘s Most Creative People in Business in 2011–will take over the media business, Reuters reports.

“There is a clear need for some consolidation to take place here (in Europe), and that is something I’m interested in,” Rovio chairman (and Mikael Hed’s father) Kaj Hed told Reuters.

That need for consolidation is the product of a rapid expansion at Rovio over the past few years, in which it has tried to turn itself into a sprawling, Disney-like outfit, adding a slew of media efforts to its gaming repertoire. In the spring of 2013, the company announced it would be producing a movie with Sony, but the release of The Angry Birds Movie has been delayed in the three years since. It’s now set for a May 2016 release date.

Earlier this year, the company announced it would enter the young adult novel space with Storm Sisters: a pirate-themed action-adventure series “with a female twist” (the company already produced Angry Birds graphic novels).

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When Fast Company first profiled Rovio in 2012, the company was about to reach a major inflection point. The Angry Birds mobile game and its sequels were at the top of the App Store charts, and the company was rapidly expanding the franchise’s merchandise–which would account for 40% of Rovio’s roughly $200 million revenue from licensing deals that year.

But in 2013 Rovio saw its revenue growth flatline—and 2014 was even worse. Rovio’s product and licensing business faltered, resulting in a 9% decline in total revenue and a whopping 73% decline in profits from 2013.

With today’s announcement, the company will refocus its energy on its two core business of media and gaming, and look to capitalize on the franchising and spin-off opportunities surrounding 2016’s film release.

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