The controversial CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, told colleagues he would consider stepping down and leaving the organization if the company’s pervasive sexual harassment and other cultural issues are not resolved.
This is according to a Wall Street Journal report citing “people familiar with his comments.” The report didn’t go into much detail, except Kotick said he was open to stepping down if things don’t improve soon.
Earlier this year, the state of California announced a lawsuit over numerous complaints of sexual harassment and similar issues at the video game publisher and developer. Disclosures and controversy ensued as numerous examples came to light of employees facing a hostile work environment throughout the company’s history.
While some of the violators were fired from the company before or after the investigation began, many of the involved Activision Blizzard employees have organized to demand more action than the company’s leadership has taken.
The calls escalated on Nov. 16, when The Wall Street Journal published a detailed report showing that Kotick knew more about the various cases of sexual misconduct than he was revealing, that he lied to the board and employees about those cases, and that he history of his own inappropriate behavior, including threatening in an angry voicemail to have his assistant killed.
The report also details the departure of Jen Oneal, who was briefly appointed co-head of Blizzard before suddenly leaving shortly after. It claimed she left for a variety of reasons, including being “symbolized” by the company’s leaders, having no confidence in the senior executive leadership’s ability or commitment to change course, and being a unequal amount was paid to her. male co-head.
Hundreds of Activision Blizzard employees and contractors, as well as a group of shareholders, responded to the Journal report with organized calls for Kotick’s resignation. Thousands of Activision Blizzard customers have also signed petitions asking the director to step down, and the heads of major partners Sony and Xbox have indicated that they are reconsidering their relationship with the publisher. But the company’s board issued a statement saying it would continue to support Kotick just after the initial report.
Today’s Wall Street Journal report notes that Activision Blizzard’s stock has fallen 30 percent since the start of the regulatory investigations and 14 percent since the story of Kotick’s conduct came out. But Kotick has been the leader of Activision for 30 years and he was the lead architect of the merger with Blizzard. Under Kotick, Activision’s stock price soared from about $12 10 years ago to its high of just over $100 before the investigation began earlier this year. It stands at $62.20 as we write this article.
Today’s report did not specify specific criteria for Kotick to consider the issues resolved or that would lead him to decide to resign.