Unity, the company behind the popular game development engine of the same name, has recently laid off hundreds of staffers, multiple sources tell Kotaku.
Founded in the mid-2000s, Unity is used by thousands of developers; you’ve almost certainly seen its logo pop up in the loading screens for some of your favourite — or least-favourite — games. In 2014, former EA head John Riccitiello took over as CEO. (In 2020, Riccitiello reportedly saw his compensation jump by 160 per cent to $US22 ($31) million.) The firm employed 3,300 people as of June 2020, according to its IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commision, though the company’s LinkedIn and Glassdoor pages peg that figure as north of 5,000.
Layoffs have afflicted Unity’s offices across the globe. Sources tell Kotaku that pretty much every corner of the company has taken some sort of hit, though there’s a concentration in the AI and engineering departments. On Blind, the anonymous messaging board commonly used by employees in the tech industry, Unity staffers say that roughly 300 or 400 people have been let go, and that layoffs are still ongoing. Kotaku’s sources have said the same.
Those who lost jobs this week were asked by their bosses to suddenly log into a video call, with no advance notice of what the call was about. But for some of these calls, a member of Unity’s human resources department also logged into the meeting. (In those situations, it’s usually pretty clear what that means.)
Unity is continuing to pay those who’ve been laid off for a month, and offering a further month of severance and COBRA health coverage after that. Affected staffers are also eligible to apply to other open jobs in the firm. But here’s the catch: The company has reportedly enacted a hiring freeze across all departments.
Unity has been a “shit show” lately, one person familiar with the situation, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, told Kotaku. Attrition. Mismanagement. Strategic pivots at a rapid, unpredictable rate. Unity has also gone on a bit of an acquisition spree lately. Last year, Unity purchased the digital effects studio Weta — founded by film director Peter Jackson and known for its work on the Avatar and Lord of the Rings films — for $US1.62 ($2) billion. In August, Unity acquired Parsec, which leverages cloud tech to allow users to stream video games, for $US320 ($444) million.
Two weeks ago, during an all-hands in front of roughly 3,000 full-time Unity employees, Riccitiello assured staffers the company was not in any financial trouble, and that Unity wouldn’t be laying anyone off, according to sources who attended.
Representatives for Unity did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
“Even after all the chaos, a few of us chose to be loyal to the work,” one source told Kotaku. “It seems like our loyalty became a liability.”