Angry Birds maker to cut up to 40% of workforce

The company says that it will focus on its games, media, and consumer products divisions and needs to be more "agile" as it looks to improve its financial position.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Angry Birds 2 is performing well, but Rovio still needs to cut its workforce. Rovio

The maker of the wildly popular Angry Birds franchise is again looking to cut its staff as it tries to focus on divisions that make more cash.

Rovio will cut "redundancies" in its workforce, the company announced on Wednesday. Rovio says it will soon enter into negotiations with employees to sever ties and could cut as many as 260 employees from its current workforce of 670 people. The reduction represents approximately 39 percent of its global workforce.

"Rovio's growth and eagerness to explore new business opportunities over the past few years has been exceptional," Rovio CEO Pekka Rantala said in a statement on Wednesday. "As a result, we did too many things. In our current financial condition we must now put focus on where we are at our best: in creating magnificent gaming experiences, in producing an amazing animation movie and in delighting our fans with great products."

Rovio shot to prominence in 2009 with the release of the Angry Birds app for mobile devices. The game, which is still one of the most popular in the mobile world, allows gamers to slingshot birds at pigs, tearing down structures along the way. The Angry Birds success prompted Rovio to double down on the franchise, launching Angry Birds Seasons in 2010; Angry Birds Rio in 2011; Angry Birds Space, Angry Birds Star Wars and Bad Piggies in 2012; Angry Birds Friends, Angry Birds Star Wars II and Angry Birds Go in 2013; and Angry Birds Epic, Angry Birds Stella and Angry Birds Transformers in 2014.

Rovio launched the official successor to Angry Birds, called Angry Birds 2, in July. The company says that game has tallied over 50 million downloads across the platforms it's available on, including iOS and Android.

As Rovio's success in gaming grew, the company became bloated. The company started to sell a wide range of goods, including plush toys, soft drinks and candy. The company even started its own cartoon channel and a film studio.

In March, Rovio released its financial earnings, revealing that its heavy focus on consumer goods had proven to be a mistake. The company's "consumer products" category saw revenue fall from 73.1 million euros ($83.4 million) in 2013 to 41.4 million in 2014. Rovio's core games business was able to generate 110.7 million euros in revenue, up from 95.2 million euros in 2013. Rovio said little about the decline in its consumer products business at the time, saying only that it was "not a satisfactory year."

Although things appeared to be going well in the company's other categories, Rovio said on Wednesday that its layoffs will be spread across its games, media, and consumer products categories. The company's film studio, which is producing The Angry Birds Movie, will be the only area not affected by the layoffs. The film is set for a global premiere in May 2016. The computer-animated action comedy, which is being distributed by Columbia Pictures, will star actors Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage.

A Rovio spokeswoman confirmed that the movie business will be unaffected by the layoffs, saying that the film is "going strong and outside the scope" of the layoffs.

Rovio's layoffs announcement is the company's second in as many years. In December, it announced that it would lay off 110 employees and shutter a game development studio in Tampere, Finland, as part of a reorganization.