Game engine maker Unity plans to acquire Ironsource, an ad tech company. in a press release this morning. The news comes just two weeks later a wide round of layoffs rocked the companywhere the rest of the employees aren’t exactly enthusiastic about the strategy.
Unity will merge with iron source, which they describe as — and brace yourself for a jumble of words from the press release — “the leading business platform, empowering mobile content creators to transform their apps into scalable, successful businesses,” in an all-stock deal. Upon completion, Ironsource will become part of Unity’s operations and its CEO will earn a seat on Unity’s board of directors.
Unity is perhaps best known for producing a widely used game engine – a set of creation tools used to create video games – of the same name. Unity has been on a bit of an acquisition frenzy over the past few years. Last year, Unity bought Weta Digitala visual effects company that has worked on films such as avatar and Lord of the Rings, for $1.6 billion. It also bought the game streaming platform Parsec for over $300 million.
This spending strategy hasn’t provided much job protection for existing employees. Last month, Unity fired 4 percent its workforce, hundreds of employees in all departments. Following the layoffs, employees questioned the company’s priorities and expressed frustration with internal Slack logs viewed by kotaku.
“My problem isn’t with these companies or any employees at these companies — you guys rock!” One employee wrote on a Slack channel following news of last month’s layoffs. “My problem is having the gall to pretend we [are a] Companies with values like ‘in it together’ when staff can be damn tossed aside.”
It is unclear what safeguards, if any, are in place to prevent Ironsource’s workforce from suffering a similar fate. Unity and Ironsource representatives did not respond in a timely manner to requests for comment on the release.
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Ironsource represents a change in Unity’s strategy and appears to show a company that prioritizes profits over product. Previous acquisitions generally had some have to do with video games, be it Weta’s VFX know-how or the multiplayer netcode know-how of something like MLAPI, that Unity was acquired in 2020. Ironsource is all about monetization.
“The general sentiment at the company is that the entire company was being run terribly badly at this point,” said another former employee kotaku, speaking on condition of anonymity. (Based on co-workers I spoke to, that seems to be the general sense. One even told me his department doesn’t have deadlines.)
After last month’s layoffs, executives refused to answer questions like, “Have executives ever talked about their exorbitant pay scales and potential cuts to save the workforce?” the former employee said. “I’m guessing, yes, they did, but they scrapped it because they wanted the new beach house in Malibu.”