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Fredrik Wester stepping down as Paradox CEO

Board member Ebba Ljungerud will take the helm of publisher as Wester assumes new role to focus on new business areas

The face of Paradox Interactive is stepping down as CEO. The Swedish publisher today announced that effective August of this year, Fredrik Wester will move into the newly created role of executive chairman of the board. Replacing him as CEO will be current Paradox board member Ebba Ljungerud.

"I've been with us close to 15 years now," Wester explained to GamesIndustry.biz. "We're closing in on 300 employees, and I see more and more that we need someone who's experienced to take over an operation that is growing rapidly and has large visions to continue to grow. And in that, I see my own role as focusing on, for example, new business areas, things where I can shine and do what is actually of most value to the company, and that's why we're bringing in Ebba."

In addition to serving on the Paradox board, Ljungerud currently serves as chief commercial officer at the online gambling firm Kindred Group. Paradox noted she has experience seeing multiple businesses with large staff through growth phases.

"Our games have grown quite a lot in the last couple of years, and I see that trend will continue," Ljungerud said. "That will bring some challenges for us, and also some opportunities. We've also seen quite a lot of consolidation in the industry in the last couple of years, really. And I don't think any of us sees that that will go away. So that will also be important to us going forward. And with my background, having worked a fair bit with merger and acquisition integrations, that will probably be a part of this as well."

Paradox has already been active on that front, having acquired White Wolf in 2015 and Triumph Studios in 2017. Last month, it also purchased a minority stake in Hardsuit Labs.

While Ljungerud and Wester spoke of ongoing growth for Paradox, both in terms of offerings and audience, they were quick to acknowledge what brought the company its past success.

"We will continue to serve that userbase, that fanbase that we built, the millions of people who play our games every month," Wester said. "But we will also start looking at new ways to maybe find new audiences, with new games that are well produced [and] rhyme really well with the values we have at Paradox today. The pipeline for that has been very limited for us at the moment, so that's one of the things I'm going to focus on at 100%. Because doing a thing like that at 50% or 25% that I've been doing up until now, I've felt that isn't really enough."

Ljungerud also spoke of the need to preserve the corporate culture even as the company grows in the future.

"In this industry, really what we have is the people," she said. "They are a crucial part of being a successful company, which is why it's important for us to keep investing in [corporate culture]."

Wester agreed, saying, "To me, a good company culture is like oxygen. You won't miss it until it's gone, and if you don't continuously work with your corporate culture, it's going to turn sour or go away. And then it's going to turn into something you don't want to have anymore. So we're working actively to keep a positive culture in the company. Of course it's different when you're close to 300 than when you were 30 [people] 10 years ago, but I still think that what used to be Paradox back in those days is still Paradox today, so the core values are still there. "

In addition to the CEO shuffle, with Wester assuming the executive chairmanship, Paradox's current chairman of the board, Håkan Sjunnesson, will see his title changed to deputy chairman.