RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – While living in the Triangle for close to two decades, Jim Whitehurst was at least physically close to the Triangle’s video game industry. But at least in business his focus was Linux (Red Hat CEO) and emerging cloud as well as other technology (No. 2 at IBM … for a short while). Now he finds himself up to his eyebrows in gaming as the interim CEO at Unity.
And Unity happens to hold a huge share of the game engine space, facing Cary-based Epic Games (Unreal engine; Fortnite the megagame, billionaire owner Tim Sweeney). He also has been thrust into a hot fight with Unity’s customer base, the revolt they launched leading to the replacement of Whitehurst’s predecessor.
So how might gamers react to the choice of Whitehurst?
The Whitehurst Resume
Among the earliest reactions was from games news site PocketGamer in a post titled “Everything you need to know about Jim Whitehurst.”
After reviewing Whitehurst’s background, you might say the editorial team was impressed. Check out these paragraphs:
“Stepping into this new interim role as Unity’s CEO, Whitehurst’s wide-ranging accomplishments already include CEO positions at Delta Air Lines and one of the most successful open source businesses in history, Red Hat. He has also served as VP and director of the Boston Consulting Group, and president at IBM. He was Red Hat’s chair of the board besides, and his various titles have seen him manage in Chicago, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Atlanta.
“If that weren’t enough, Whitehurst is also an advisor at private equity firm Silver Lake; so to say he is a smart choice on Unity’s part – when the phrase ‘safe pair of hands’ was never more needed – would appear to be something of an understatement.”
But PocketGamer sees a big change coming for Unity:
“And after proving his chops by virtue of his accomplishments thus far, his appointment as CEO without a gaming background speaks volumes to Unity’s vision – underscoring the company’s ambitions to not only be a game software development platform, but a platform that deals in digital visions for any manner of industries from automotive to the movie business.”
Is Whitehurst the best fit? We’ll soon find out.