Yves Guillemot is the CEO of Ubisoft Entertainment SA. He has been the chief executive for the company ever since he and his four brothers founded the company. Nowadays, Ubisoft’s size means that Guillemot can be considered one of the most influential figures in the video game industry. What Are 10 Things You Didn’t Know about Yves Guillemot?
1. His Family Was Based in Brittany
The Guillemot family ran a farming support business that catered to farmers in Brittany as well as the surrounding regions. For those who are unfamiliar, Brittany is a French province that was once an independent kingdom in its own right. In fact, it is considered to be one of the six Celtic nations by the Celtic League, which can be explained by the fact that it was the target of immigration by Britons from what is now Wales as well as the South West Peninsula of Great Britain in the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries. This is what the region’s name change to the Latin Britannia meaning “Britons’ Land” before it underwent further evolution.
2. He and His Brothers Worked for the Family Business
In total, there were five sons in the Guillemot family, who were Christian, Claude, Gérard, Michel, and Yves. The Guillemot sons were involved in the family business in various ways such as sales, distribution, and accounting even before going to university. After they had gone to university, they returned to the family business with even more business experience for the purpose of improving it.
3. The Guillemot Brothers Chose Diversification
At the time, farming businesses were experiencing a downward trend. As a result, the Guillemot brothers recommended diversification in response to the changing business environment. In their case, this meant selling other products that could prove useful to their existing customer base. Something that eventually led to the Guillemot brothers selling both computers and computer software. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the latter included video games.
4. Got a Firm Footing By Exploiting Price Differences
In time, the Guillemot brothers noticed that it was cheaper for them to buy computers and computer software in the United Kingdom before shipping their purchases to France than to buy the same products from a French supplier. Due to this, they started up a business that sold computers and computer software, which was followed by another business that sold computer hardware. Eventually, the Guillemot brothers decided that they needed to get involved in the development side of things for video games as well, thus resulting in the foundation of Ubisoft.
5. First Game Was Zombi
The first Ubisoft game was Zombi. Based on the name, it should come as no surprise to learn that this was a zombie game. To be exact, Zombi was a action-adventure zombie game in which the player explored a shopping mall from a first-person perspective. The title proved to be both a critical and a commercial success, thus fueling Ubisoft’s efforts.
6. There Was Concern of an EA Takeover
By the early 2000s, Ubisoft had become an international name of note. However, the Guillemot brothers made a mistake by failing to remember that they were running a public corporation in a competitive environment, which is why they were surprised by EA buying a 19.9 percent ownership stake. This caused widespread concern among Ubisoft stakeholders, as shown by how Ubisoft employees at the time were fearful of how an EA takeover would change the company’s internal environment. However, that fear never materialized. In fact, EA winded up selling its shares in 2010.
7. There Was an Attempted Vivendi Takeover
Having said that, the Guillemot brothers did face an attempted takeover by the French mass media conglomerate Vivendi from 2015 to 2018. This was met with fervent opposition by the Guillemot brothers, not least because they were fearful that a difference in business philosophies would destroy everything that they had managed to build up. By June of 2016, Vivendi had succeeded in taking over the mobile game publisher Gameloft that was also owned by the Guillemot brothers; by 2017, there was widespread expectation that Vivendi would succeed at a similar takeover of Ubisoft, not least because it had already managed to secure a bigger ownership stake than that of the Guillemot brothers and was intent on buying more shares. However, further efforts by the Guillemot brothers combined with Vivendi’s own internal considerations eventually convinced the latter to back off on the verge of success, with the result that it had divested 100 percent of its Ubisoft shares by March of 2019.
8. Formed a Partnership with Tencent
Speaking of which, some of the shares sold by Vivendi were bought by the Chinese conglomerate Tencent. This was presumably a part of Ubisoft’s partnership with the company, which was meant to help it build up its share of the huge Chinese market. So far, the two companies seem to be cooperating well enough, as shown by the popularity of Ubisoft titles in said region. There has been some speculation of a Tencent buyout in recent times, but there is nothing solid to support said conclusion for now.
9. Interested in Other Forms of Media
In the present time, Ubisoft has some very well-known series. As a result, Yves Guillemot’s leadership has seen it express an interest in other forms of media based on those series. However, it wants to do so while retaining a great deal of creative control over such projects, which makes sense considering the potential splash from how they often turn out.
10. Cautious About Aggressive Monetization
Microtransactions are one of the most contentious issues in the video game industry. Unsurprisingly, Yves Guillemot has had to deal with this as well as other forms of aggressive monetization. So far, Ubisoft has neither backed off from aggressive monetization nor embraced it wholeheartedly. Its games have in-game purchases, but it has been known to back down when its customers rebel against so-called “time savers.” Chances are good that such issues will remain a concern for the foreseeable future, meaning that Yves Guillemot will have to continue juggling competing priorities.