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Activision Blizzard: More than 1,300 employees call for Bobby Kotick to resign


After revelations about the company boss, the situation at Activision Blizzard is coming to a head. Numerous employees are demanding a change at the top of the game company. Microsoft and Sony are also putting pressure on them.

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Company boss Bobby Kotick: More than a thousand employees are demanding his resignation


Around 1,330 Activision Blizzard employees are publicly calling on their boss to resign.

"We, the undersigned, no longer have confidence in the leadership of Bobby Kotick as CEO," it says in an online petition, each of which was signed together with the name and position.

The information about Kotick's behavior that came to light is contrary to the culture and integrity that is required of management, according to the employees.

"We are calling for Bobby Kotick to step down as CEO of Activision Blizzard and for shareholders to elect the new CEO without the involvement of Bobby, who we know has a significant share of the voting rights."

Activision Blizzard has a total of around 10,000 employees, so more than ten percent of employees have already signed up.

Further signatures could follow on Friday and over the weekend.

At the top for many years

Bobby Kotick has been managing Activision Blizzard, one of the most important game companies in the world, since 2008. Before that, he had been head of the predecessor company Activision since 1991. With an annual salary of at times $ 154 million, the 58-year-old was one of America's top-earning CEOs until he recently voluntarily and symbolically reduced his pay to $ 62,500.

Earlier this week, Kotick came under pressure from research by the Wall Street Journal, details can be found here.

An article in the US newspaper outlined, using specific examples, that Kotick was apparently better aware of the dark side of some parts of his company than he disclosed to the outside and inside, for example to the board of directors.

Among other things, it was about Kotick's handling of rape and harassment allegations against individual, sometimes high-ranking employees.

In a statement, Kotick himself spoke of an "article that paints an inaccurate and misleading picture of our company, of me personally and of my leadership."

He did not go into details of the reporting.

The company behind "World of Warcraft" and "Call of Duty"

Activision Blizzard, which has sales in the billions, includes various, quite independently operating game studios that work on popular titles and series such as "World of Warcraft", "Call of Duty", "Diablo" and "Candy Crush".

In July, the California Occupational Safety and Health Agency filed a lawsuit against the company.

The culture within the company is a "breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women," it said in the complaint.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Activision Blizzard has received more than 500 reports from current and former employees since July that revolve around problems such as harassment, sexual assault, bullying and unequal pay.

The revelations in the Wall Street Journal about Kotick on Tuesday prompted around 150 employees to spontaneously initiate a so-called walkout.

At that protest at the company headquarters, they demanded Kotick's resignation.

Sony and Microsoft respond

The pressure that is now on the CEO is not only caused by employee actions.

Microsoft and Sony, who as operators of online stores for the Xbox and Playstation consoles are among Activision Blizzard's most important business partners, also seem to have alarmed the Wall Street Journal report.

"Bloomberg" reports that Microsoft Xbox boss Phil Spencer told his employees that he was "upset and deeply concerned about the terrible events and actions" at Activision Blizzard. "This kind of behavior has no place in our industry," Spencer reportedly wrote. You will now "evaluate all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and make proactive adjustments as a result." When asked, a Microsoft spokesman for "The Verge" confirmed that "Bloomberg" had correctly reproduced Spencer's statements.

"Bloomberg" reports to Sony that, according to an internal email after the Wall Street Journal article was published, Playstation boss Jim Ryan contacted Activision Blizzard "to express our deep concern and to ask how they responded to the in want to respond to allegations made to the article «.

Ryan doesn't think "that their explanations adequately reflect the situation."

Kotick has the board on his side

It is remarkable that Microsoft and Sony are so distancing themselves from one of their partners.

"The heads of PlayStation and Xbox have publicly condemned Activision," is how "Bloomberg" journalist Mark Milian sums up the explosiveness of the reaction of the two companies.

"It's like making an app and the CEOs of Apple and Google both saying, 'We're deeply concerned about the person who's making this app." "

A spokesman for Activision Blizzard said on Thursday that they respect “all feedback from our valued partners” and are committed to “making our culture and our workplace safe, diverse and inclusive”.

The company's board of directors officially backed Bobby Kotick on Tuesday.

One was "still convinced" that Kotick had dealt with the problems brought to his attention in the workplace in an appropriate manner, it said in a statement by the Board of Directors.

You continue to have confidence in your leadership.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-11-19

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