John Smedley is stepping down as CEO and president of Daybreak, making way for new leadership at the developer of H1Z1, PlanetSide 2 and Everquest Next & Landmark. Russell Shanks, the current chief operating officer, will move into the role of president.
Speaking to Venturebeat, a Daybreak spokesperson stated: "I can confirm that John Smedley will be taking some time off from the company for the near-term and transitioning to a different role to be determined. Upon finalization of his plans, further communication will be provided."
The move comes in the wake of a protracted conflict with the hacker group Lizard Squad, who Smedley has had various run ins with over the past few years, which at its most extreme had the hacker group calling in a bomb threat on a plane Smedley was about to board, grounding it for a period of time. Smedley and Daybreak have both been under continued and persistent attacks, both socially and digitally, with their servers being targetted this month in a sustained DDoS attack.
Whether Smedley's decision to step down is related to these pressures is unknown, but his reaction to the sentencing of Julius Kivimaki, the cybercriminal who was partly responsible for the bomb threat that grounded Smedley's plane, was vehement. Despite being convicted for 50,000 counts of computer-related crimes in Finland, Kivimaki was only sentenced to a two-year commuted sentence, prompting Smedley to state on Twitter that he was "coming for" him, threatening to sue Kivimaki.
The role into which Smedley will return to Daybreak is unknown, but it will be interesting to see whether it as prominent and visible as his previous position.