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SOE founder, Daybreak president John Smedley steps away from company

John Smedley, who helped create Everquest and co-founded of the studio that went on to become Sony Online Entertainment and later Daybreak, is stepping down as the company's CEO and president.

"At this time, 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," a spokesperson for the company told Polygon. "Upon finalization of his plans, further communication will be provided."

The news comes just 12 days after Smedley publicly decried the sentence a 17-year-old member of the Lizard Squad hacking group received for his role in the attack on Smedley and others.

Smedley took to Twitter in the wake of the sentence, threatening legal action against the "little dirtbag," as well as his family.

Julius "zeekill" Kivimaki was convicted of 50,700 cybercrime-related charges and received a two-year suspended prison sentence. According to Smedley, the Finnish teen is "the guy that brought down my flight with a bomb threat" in August 2014.

Smedley detailed the group's activities in a Reddit thread about the conviction.

"I've also been swatted (multiple times) and had over 50 false credit applications submitted in my name and had to deal with the ramifications of what happens to your credit when this kind of thing happens. It's not good. And to top it all off they decided to submit false tax returns."

Smedley added that the group also attacked the gaming community.

"He's been involved for years in every kind of terrible thing you can imagine including Carding, hacking, swatting people all over the world," he wrote on Reddit. "He's also participated in a major way in DDOS attacks that caused a lot of grief for gamers and a lot of economic damage to the companies that make and run games."

Smedley helped develop the original EverQuest and co-founded Verant Interactive, which was purchased by Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2000 and renamed to Sony Entertainment Online. In February, Sony sold SOE to Columbus Nova, which renamed the studio to Daybreak Game Company.

We've reached out to Smedley for comment and will update this story when he replies.

Correction: The story initially reported, citing VentureBeat, that chief creative operating officer Russell Shanks will be the new president, assuming Smedley's duties and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the studio along with a committee. That is incorrect, according to Daybreak. The studio declined to stay who will be taking over those responsibilities.

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