Bobby Kotick Considers Leaving Activision

Report: Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick Would Consider Leaving if Misconduct Issues Aren’t Fixed Quickly

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has reportedly told the company’s senior management that he would consider leaving if the misconduct and toxic work culture issues aren’t fixed quickly. According to the Wall Street Journal, Kotick met with management on Friday to state that he was not stepping down right now, but it would be a possibility if the issues couldn’t be fixed “with speed.” This is following a previous Wall Street Journal report from last week about Kotick’s alleged knowledge and sheltering of harassers, as well as his own reported mistreatment of women.

The company’s misconduct issues came to light back in July when a lawsuit was filed in California for discrimination and sexual harassment against its employees. The lawsuit detailed years of inappropriate behavior from male employees, as well as discrimination that included promoting male colleagues of female colleagues in case the latter became pregnant and pay discrepancies. Since the lawsuit was filed, “more than 500 additional internal reports of harassment, assaults, other misconduct and other issues” have been made to the company, which they are currently investigating.

Despite knowledge of the sexual assault and abuse allegations at Activision, Kotick hid them from investors. This included failing to inform the board of directors of rape allegations made in 2016 and 2017 and the resulting out-of-court settlement, and stepping in to shelter a studio head from a recommendation that he be fired after internal and external review. Kotick himself has not avoided the controversy either. After an assistant complained of harassment in 2006 with allegations that included Kotick “threatening in a voice mail to have her killed,” he also settled the dispute out of court.

Following the Wall Street Journal report last week, many employees staged a walkout. Members of the A Better ABK employee coalition are calling for Kotick to be replaced as CEO and for a third-party investigation into the claims. Some investors are also calling for Kotick to step down, while both PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan and Head of Xbox Phil Spencer have criticized the company’s to response to the allegations and are re-evaluating their partnerships. Nonprofit organization Girls Who Code have also terminated their partnership with Activision, stating their “priority has and always will be to stand up for women and other underrepresented groups in tech.” Despite this, Activision Blizzard Board of Directors has so far only issued a statement standing behind Kotick and his leadership at the company.

[Source: Wall Street Journal (1, 2), Girls Who Code]