Nicolo Laurent is stepping down from his role as CEO of Riot Games and will be succeeded by the company’s current global president, Dylan Jadeja, according to an official statement issued by Riot. Laurent is moving to an advisory role to focus more on his family after six years in the CEO position. The CEO transition is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.
Laurent has been a major part of Riot Games since the company was just a “40-person startup” in 2009, before stepping into the role of CEO in 2017. Under his leadership, Riot Games has been accused of fostering a sexist “bro culture,” during which Laurent was personally accused (and later cleared) of sexual misconduct against his former executive assistant.
After 14 years at Riot and 6 as CEO, later this year I’ll check off something that’s been on my quest log for a while: Stepping away from CEO to focus on family, plan a relocation back to France, and play flex queue with my four kids (wishful thinking on that last bit). <1/3>
— nicolo (@niiicolo) May 11, 2023
Jadeja has been with Riot Games since joining as Chief Financial Officer in 2011, and held the position of global president since 2017. Laurent claims that it’s taken around three years to plan who would succeed him, and that for the first time in its 17-year history, Riot “looked both inside and outside the company to find the very best person for this role.”
“I can imagine this news may feel sudden, but transparently, it’s a decision that’s been on my mind for a while. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a long and amazing journey with Riot,” wrote Laurent in an open letter. “While this chapter is coming to a close, I don’t view this as an end — I don’t plan on joining another company or starting a new company.” Laurent said he intends to stay at Riot as an advisor “for years to come,” and that more details on the handover process to Jadeja will be shared in the coming weeks.
“As we look to the transition, it would be disingenuous for me to suggest that I have all the answers and an action plan already defined,” said Jadeja in his own open letter addressing Riot fans. “As CEO, it is fair to assume that I may do some things differently than those before me, but I want to assure you that the goal for us — together — will not waver. And that is to make Riot, unequivocally, the most trusted and authentic game company in the world… built by players, for players.”
In a 2018 investigation by Kotaku, several former Riot female employees reported being sexually harassed, groomed for promotions, and receiving unsolicited pictures of genitals. One of Riot’s male senior leaders was described as regularly grabbing his genitals and farting on his employee’s faces during meetings. Laurent was not named during the Kotaku expose.
A report published by Wired in 2021, however, claims Laurent protected some of the most problematic employees holding leadership roles at the company during this time, as noted by Dexerto. Riot paid $100 million to settle the 2018 discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed by eight female former company employees.