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EA exec’s game to top equity fund

Riccitiello partners with venture capitalist McNamee

Electronic Arts’ No. 2 exec is leaving the vidgame publisher and turning his attention to the broader media world. Prexy-chief operating officer John Riccitiello unexpectedly resigned Wednesday to start a private equity fund focused on buyouts and investments in media and entertainment.

He’s partnering on the new fund with longtime venture capitalist Roger McNamee, who co-founded two Silicon Valley investment firms in the past 15 years.

Riccitiello has been with EA for the past six years, heading its publishing, online and other corporate departments. He’s part of a management team that’s driven EA to the top of the growing vidgame biz and helped it profit from such Hollywood licenses as Harry Potter and James Bond.

Although specific plans for the fund have not been announced yet, it will likely take advantage of Riccitiello’s experience integrating vidgames with film and TV, investing in companies that cross borders between entertainment sectors.

Move mirrors a shift in the opposite direction in November, when former Time Warner chief operating officer and now private investor Robert Pittman joined EA’s board of directors.

EA chief exec Larry Probst will take over for Riccitiello until a replacement is selected.

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