Bobby Kotick Says He’ll Leave Activision Blizzard If He Can’t Quickly Fix Culture Problems
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick remains in the public’s crosshairs following last week’s Wall Street Journal bombshell. The article accused Kotick of hiding out-of-court settlements for rape cases from the company’s board of directors and investors and also gave evidence that the CEO wrote Fran Townsend’s email that he later called “tone deaf.”
Employees, investors, and even the heads of other video game companies have been calling for Kotick to step down from his post as part of his own “zero tolerance” policy. Activision Blizzard’s board of director’s, however, rallied behind Kotick resulting in a mass employee walkout and a petition from shareholders for the resignation of two senior members of the board, in addition to Kotick.
The Journal dropped a new bomb this weekend with a new article that revealed that Kotick might be succumbing to the pressure. According to the Journal’s sources, Kotick told senior managers that he would consider resigning from his post if he fails to quickly fix the company’s frat boy culture. In response, some employees called attention to the fact that he has been running the video game giant for 30 years and that if he failed to instill a positive work culture within that time, he’d be hard-pressed to do so “quickly.”
A Journal podcast also revealed new cases and events attesting to the company’s offensive workplace culture. These include a male employee who signed company emails with “1-800-ALLCOCK”, an incident where a male manager hugged a female subordinate in a chokehold during Sledgehammer Games’ anniversary party, and yet another instance of rape where the victim was told to downplay the event.
Activision Blizzard Chief Communications Officer Helaine Klasky responded to the podcast in a statement to Kotaku claiming that an investigation into the said rape incident was launched in July 2018, and that the alleged victim had never filed a report with HR. The Sledgehammer manager claimed that he was too drunk to remember the incident but he did get suspended for two weeks and demoted thereafter. As for the inappropriate email signature, Klasky said that they only found out about it this summer and that the offending employee had already been fired following a month-long investigation.
Meanwhile, Paul Reiche, the former head of Activision Blizzard subsidiary Toys for Bob, has also added his voice to the calls for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. “If the new stories I have read are true, I can’t see how Activision can continue its success without new leadership,” he said in an interview. “How far down that goes depends on what we learn about the behavior of those leaders.”