The Continuing Fall of Activision Blizzard
Activision Blizzard is in free fall. It’s stock has fallen more than 10% in the last week. It’s two largest partners, Xbox and Playstation have both publicly stated that they are re-evaluating their working relationships with the gaming giant. Playstation even removed Call of Duty: Vanguard, Activision Blizzard’s flagship title, from it’s store’s featured section, something unheard of in the weeks following a Call of Duty launch. What happened?
On November 16th, the Wall Street Journal released a bombshell report on Activision Blizzard CEO, Bobby Kotick. The report alleges a wide range of misconduct on the part of Kotick, from working to hide allegations of sexual harassment within the company, to firing a flight attendant on his private jet as retribution for reporting harassment by his pilot, to even threatening to have his assistant killed in a voicemail.
To the public this news was shocking. Even amidst the very publicized sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit levied at Activision Blizzard by the state of California, Kotick had been painted by the media in a positive light. Recently he had docked his own pay to the lowest allowed for a salaried worker in California, and forfeited all bonuses until Activision Blizzard had reached diversity and equity goals.
The revelation of Kotick’s knowledge of the company’s misconduct has had an immediate and substantial impact on the company. The same day that the article was published, more than 100 employees walked out of the building, gathering in front of the Blizzard campus to demand Kotick’s resignation. Over the next few days a growing number of investors have joined these calls for Kotick to be removed from his leadership role. On top of that pressure from Activision’s partners in the industry to address the company’s outrageous behaviour continues to grow.
However Kotick’s removal is unlikely. He has the unwavering support of 9 members of Activision’s board, almost all of whom Kotick has been personal friends with for years.
So while the public can outcry as much as they want, and employees can stage protests and walk out, unless Kotick’s friends on the board turn on him, he will continue to run Activision Blizzard and be compensated well for it.