Unity Software Announces Job Cuts and Termination of Agreement with Wētā FX
Unity Software, a leading provider of real-time 3D development platforms, has announced that it will be eliminating 265 jobs, representing 3.8% of its global workforce. This decision comes as Unity seeks to “reset” its operations and refocus on its core business. The job cuts also include the termination of an agreement with Wētā FX, a digital video effects company founded by the director of “Lord of the Rings,” Sir Peter Jackson.
This news comes as a blow to employees, especially considering the timing right before Christmas. Just last year, Unity completed its acquisition of Weta Digital’s tools, pipeline, technology, and engineering talent. The acquisition was intended to empower game developers, artists, and consumer creators with advanced content creation tools. As part of the deal, Unity welcomed Weta Digital’s world-class engineering talent of 275 engineers, who are known for their expertise in building and maintaining Weta Digital tools and core pipeline.
However, this week’s announcement includes the termination of the professional services agreement between Unity and Wētā FX, resulting in the layoff of 265 employees. These employees have a limited amount of time to wrap up their work before their positions are terminated.
Unity’s decision to cut jobs and terminate the agreement with Wētā FX is seen as a move to refocus its efforts and streamline its operations. The company’s former CEO, John Riccitiello, retired in October, and James M. Whitehurst was appointed as the interim CEO. Unity’s board also saw changes, with Roelof Botha taking on the role of chairman.
When Unity acquired Weta Digital’s technology and engineering division, it was seen as a strategic move to establish itself as a major player in the professional media and entertainment market. Unity had invested significantly in research and development, aiming to make high-end VFX production and premium content creation accessible to creators. The acquisition was also seen as a response to Epic Games’ investment in the M&E space.
Unity’s termination of the agreement with Wētā FX raises questions about the future of Wētā Tools, the division established to deliver solutions for artists to collaborate and create 2D and 3D content. Unity will retain ownership of the technology acquired from Wētā, but it remains to be seen how Unity will enhance its offerings with it over time. Wētā FX, on the other hand, will continue to build and extend its IP and develop its own tools and techniques.
Wētā FX has issued a statement expressing its intention to extend offers to as many of the affected employees as possible. The company plans to expand its research, development, and support functions, ensuring a smooth integration of the teams back into Wētā. Joe Letteri and Kimball Thurston will continue to lead Wētā’s technology vision and roadmap.
While Unity’s decision may be a strategic move to refocus its operations, it has undoubtedly caused uncertainty and concern among employees. The company’s share price has also seen a significant decline, dropping from over $150 to less than $30 per share. Unity will also be shutting down offices in various locations, further impacting its global footprint.
Overall, this news highlights the challenges and changes that companies in the technology and entertainment industries face. It serves as a reminder of the volatility and ever-evolving nature of the business landscape, where companies must constantly adapt and make difficult decisions to stay competitive.
Unity Software with a ‘company reset’ walks away from film VFX and the Wētā Deal