The Wall Street Journal is reporting that, following the company’s recent sale to Microsoft, efforts to pursue Activision Blizzard—and its embattled CEO Bobby Kotick—have escalated at both the state and federal level.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, whose initial investigation kicked off this entire thing last year, have now “subpoenaed Activision’s directors related to the company’s handling of the workplace issues.” They have also “subpoenaed police departments in the Los Angeles-area for any records they have related to longtime Chief Executive Bobby Kotick and 18 other current and former Activision employees.”
Federally, the Securities and Exchange Commission has also “sent an additional subpoena to Activision as part of an investigation it launched last year into the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations.” In response, an Activision representative told the WSJ that the subpoenas were an “extraordinary fishing expedition”.
While the earlier requests for information from the SEC were based on recent years, this latest filing reportedly requests “records and communications from a much longer list of current and former executives,”, and dates all the way back to 2016.
If you would like to meet some of the “directors” listed above, here they are.
Activision Blizzard has had quite the year. Following the initial news of the DFEH’s investigation came a sequence of events that led to a number of high-profile departures and firings, further investigations, internal revolt, derision from the company’s peers, a mass departure of workers, unionisation efforts, and allegations that Kotick himself had been involved in incidents of harassment.
And that was all before Microsoft stepped in to buy the beleaguered company for just under $70 billion. Interestingly, the WSJ report adds that having spoken to “corporate governance and mergers and acquisitions experts,” it’s the case that “if the government investigations into Activision aren’t resolved before the Microsoft deal closes, Microsoft will then have to take them on”.
UPDATE 7:00pm ET - An Activision Blizzard spokesperson tells Kotaku:
The DFEH is requesting sensitive, confidential information with no limits or relevant scope from Southern California police departments. This serves no legitimate purpose. It represents yet another questionable tactic in DFEH’s broader effort to derail AB’s settlement with the EEOC. Rather than protecting California workers, the DFEH is impeding the meaningful progress at Activision Blizzard and delaying compensation to affected employees.