Update 11/18/2021 1:18 p.m. ET: Advocacy group ABK Workers Alliance recently published a document signed by 500 employees calling for Bobby Kotick’s removal as CEO of Activision Blizzard.
“We, the undersigned, no longer have confidence in the leadership of Bobby Kotick as the CEO of Activision Blizzard,” the petition reads. “The information that has come to light about his behaviors and practices in the running of our companies runs counter to the culture and integrity we require of our leadership—and directly conflicts with the initiatives started by our peers. We ask that Bobby Kotick remove himself as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and that shareholders be allowed to select the new CEO without the input of Bobby, who we are aware owns a substantial portion of the voting rights of the shareholders.”
Among the signatures are employees of various departments within Activision Blizzard proper as well as subsidiary studios like Infinity Ward, Treyarch, Sledgehammer Games, High Moon Studios, Raven Software, and Toys for Bob.
Update 11/17/2021 4:15 p.m. ET: Game Developer reports that Activision Blizzard leadership continued to stand by embattled CEO Bobby Kotick during an all-hands meeting today. Execs also answered pre-screened questions from employees.
Activision Blizzard higher-ups apparently knew The Wall Street Journal’s report was on the way and extended the company’s Thanksgiving break in anticipation of the story’s publication. It was also made clear that Activision Blizzard’s new zero-tolerance policy would not extend to Kotick’s past actions.
Update 11/17/2021 10:30 a.m. ET: A group of shareholders, led by union pension group the SOC Investment Group called for the resignation of Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and the retirement of two other members of the board of directors: Brian Kelly and Robert Morgado. The letter was also signed by a handful of other investment groups, several of which focus on supporting women across various industries.
While the total shares held by investors calling for Kotick to resign is unknown, any calls for a CEO’s resignation are seen as a very bad sign for the state of a company. It’s extremely rare that the interests of labor and shareholders align, which is a testament to just how badly Bobby Kotick has continually fucked up, damaging not only his company but also the lives of dozens of women therein.
Earlier: Social media is aflame with demands that video game industry exec Bobby Kotick resign from his position as CEO of Activision Blizzard in the wake of reporting from The Wall Street Journal about his own terrible treatment of women. Leading the charge are Activision Blizzard employees themselves, who are planning another walkout today in response to the report’s revelations.
“We will not be silenced until Bobby Kotick has been replaced as CEO, and continue to hold our original demand for third-party review by an employee-chosen source,” ABK Workers Alliance, an advocacy group made up of current Activision Blizzard employees, announced on Twitter. “We are staging a walkout today. We welcome you to join us.”
Update 11/16/2021 3:57 p.m. ET: A source tells Kotaku that over 100 employees have gathered outside Blizzard’s headquarters in Irvine, California demanding Bobby Kotick’s resignation.
The hashtag #firebobbykotick is also picking up steam after first being established earlier this year in response to Activision Blizzard’s other sexual abuse-related legal woes. Many believe this should be the final straw for shareholders, some of whom already think Kotick makes too much money as it is.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Kotick not only ignored and downplayed longstanding harassment against female employees within Activision Blizzard but was also an active participant in the “frat boy” culture that led the state of California to file a lawsuit against the company earlier this year.
Kotick is said to have harassed an assistant in 2006, sending her a menacing voicemail message in which he threatened to kill her. The matter was settled out of court, and an Activision Blizzard rep told The Wall Street Journal that Kotick “quickly apologized 16 years ago for the obviously hyperbolic and inappropriate voice mail” and “deeply regrets the exaggeration and tone in his voice mail to this day.”
In 2007, Kotick was accused of firing a flight attendant on his private jet after she told him the pilot of said jet sexually harassed her. Kotick reportedly told the flight attendant and her lawyers, “I’m going to destroy you,” an allegation Kotick denied through a spokesperson. He eventually settled out of court in 2008, this time to the tune of $200,000.
Kotick has, more recently, taken a pay cut in response to the state of California’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard and news of the company’s toxic atmosphere toward women.
“I truly wish not a single employee had had an experience at work that resulted in hurt, humiliation, or worse – and to those who were affected, I sincerely apologize,” Kotick wrote in a public statement at the time. “You have my commitment that we will do everything possible to honor our values and create the workplace every member of this team deserves.”