Enlarge / Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.
Contested CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, told colleagues he would consider stepping down and leaving the organization if the company’s deep-seated sexual harassment and other cultural issues were not resolved.
This emerges from a report in the Wall Street Journal that “cites people who are familiar with his comments.” The report didn’t go into detail, other than Kotick saying he was willing to step back if things don’t improve quickly.
Earlier this year, the state of California announced a lawsuit over numerous complaints of sexual harassment and related issues with video game publishers and developers. Revelations and controversy ensued as numerous cases came to light of employees exposed in a hostile work environment throughout the company’s history.
While some of the perpetrators were fired from the company either before or after the investigation began, many of the concerned Activision Blizzard employees have organized themselves to demand more action than management has taken.
The calls escalated on November 16 when the Wall Street Journal published a detailed report showing that Kotick knew more about the various sexual misconduct incidents than he admitted he had lied to the board and staff on these cases and that he has a story of his own inappropriate behavior, including an angry voicemail threat of having his assistant killed.
The report also details the departure of Jen Oneal, who was briefly named co-boss of Blizzard, before suddenly leaving shortly afterwards. It was alleged that she left for a number of reasons including that she was “tokenized” by company executives, that she did not believe in management’s ability or commitment to change course, and that she was an unequal one The amount paid was male co-leader.
Hundreds of Activision Blizzard employees and contractors, as well as a group of shareholders, responded to the Journal report with organized calls for Kotick to step down. Thousands of Activision Blizzard customers have also signed petitions urging the board to step down, and the bosses of major partners Sony and Xbox have signaled that they will reconsider their relationship with the publisher. However, the company’s board of directors issued a statement stating that they would continue to stand by Kotick very shortly after the first report was released.
Today’s Wall Street Journal report finds Activision Blizzard’s shares are down 30 percent since the regulatory investigation began and 14 percent since the story of Kotick’s behavior was announced. But Kotick has led Activision and the chief architect of the merger with Blizzard for 30 years. Under Kotick, Activision’s share price soared from around $ 12 10 years ago to its high of just over $ 100 before the investigation began earlier this year. It stands at $ 62.20 as of the time of this writing.
In today’s report, no specific criteria were set out by which Kotick would consider the problems resolved or induce him to resign.