As of April 2nd, Larry Probst, current CEO of Electronic Arts, will be stepping down and handing the title over to John Riccitello. Riccitello, an old-school EA’er is coming back after leaving his Chief Operations Officer and President job at EA in 2004 to co-found and manage his own venture capital firm called Elevation Partners. Probst will stay on with the company as the executive chairman of the board of directors.
Starting as CEO in 1991, Larry Probst has ran EA for the last 16 years, and has been said to rely too heavily on sequels. Though Riccitiello leaves his job as the managing partner for Elevation Partners, a venture capital firm with $1.9 billion worth of financing power, for the captain’s chair of this multimedia giant, he might not have an easy time. This year EA is tasked with releasing Spore, Will Wright’s latest social experiment that has wow’d the media at several events but has questionable sales potential.
Though an exciting proposition for Riccitiello, no doubt, what could be the cause behind Probst stepping down? Is there something that we haven’t seen that’s going on at EA? For a company that makes as much money as Electronic Arts does, why would the highly successful CEO step down after 16 years on the job? Last year we saw a few serious drops in EA’s stock price and one has to wonder if that doesn’t have something to do with Probst stepping down. Since opening this morning, the EA stock (ERTS) has dropped 1.23 points from 53.19 to a current 51.96.