A wise man* once said that you've got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away. And know when to run. And it would appear that the specific moment in question is just before you drop a hugely unpopular re-jig of your pricing structure to tens of thousands of dismayed game developers all across the globe.
Now, in a move that’s as surprising as the sun’s daily rising, it appears that colourful Unity CEO John Riccitiello sold shares in his company as recently as a week ago.
2000 shares to be precise, on September 6, exactly one week ahead of their bombshell announcement of their ‘pay per install’ Unity Runtime Fee, which kicks in from January 2024. And that’s not all. It appears that Riccitiello has been divesting himself of interests in the company that he runs and loves to the tune of 50,610 shares across the last year. Yahoo! Finance sagely notes that during this time he has bought precisely “none” of Unity’s stock.
Of course there’s nothing wrong (at least not legally) with any of this activity but it’s always worth noting that when the boss of a company sells before bad news, they’re sending out a special kind of signal: This CEO isn’t anticipating any kind of turn around happening any time soon.
Buy the high, sell the dip, right?
That said looking at the bigger picture Riccitiello should have really cashed out sooner. After reaching a peak value in November 2021 of $172, the stock has nosedived 80%. Most worrying is that despite at-a-glance good news of their recent, record, guidance-exceeding Q2 financials ($533 in revenue) they still managed to post a loss of $193 million.
So for all the fees and all the tiers, all the pricing restructures and all the ironSource acquisitions, all the Weta tech and new AI innovations, it seems that Unity is making money but spending it even faster.
And in that frame, their Unity Runtime Fee is starting to look like a long overdue, highly necessary recovery move.