According to the latest investigation by The Wall Street Journal, Bobby Kotick has been covering up harassment at the workplace for years and even threatened to kill an employee once. Although Activision Blizzard’s board of directors took his side, the company stock fell to the lowest close in over a year.
Key takeaways from the WSJ investigation
- In 2018, a former Sledgehammer Games employee alleged that she was raped in 2016 and 2017 by one of her male supervisors. Kotick managed to settle the case before the court and didn’t inform the board of directors about it.
- In 2017, Treyarch co-head Dan Bunting was accused of harassing his female colleague while being drunk. Although the HR department insisted on him being fired, Kotick decided to keep him (after the investigation, it was revealed that Bunting left Treyarch).
- Kotick knew about accusations against another Sledgehammer employee, Eduard Roehrich. In 2017, he harassed a female employee at a company party but was eventually given a two-week paid leave and managed to stay at Activision.
- Jennifer Oneal left the company just months after becoming Blizzard co-leader along with Mike Ybarra. She also said that she was harassed, discriminated against, tokenized, and had a lesser salary than Ybarra.
- Bobby Kotick was also accused of mistreating employees, both at Activision Blizzard and outside the company. In 2006, he threatened to kill his assistant after she complained that he harassed her (Kotick reportedly apologized for this behavior instantly).
- In 2007, the Activision Blizzard CEO fired a flight attendant on his private jet after she complained about being harassed by a pilot. Kotick settled the incident by paying her $200,000.
- Last year, about 30 female employees at Activision’s esports divisions said that they experienced unwanted touching and demeaning comments on their appearance. Kotick knew about their email but didn’t do enough to change the environment for the better. The company later held diversity and inclusion training with the esports team leadership.
Bobby Kotick’s reaction
- Following the WSJ investigation, Kotick recorded a video message to Activision Blizzard employees, saying that the article contained an “inaccurate and misleading view of our company.”
- He once again stated that Activision Blizzard will follow its new zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate behavior of any form. Kotick went on to say that “anyone who doubts my conviction to be the most welcoming, inclusive workplace doesn’t really appreciate how important this is to me.”
- Activision Blizzard’s board of directors also issued a statement, saying that they are still committed to Kotick’s goal of making the company the most welcoming and inclusive workplace in the games industry.
- The board noted that Activision Blizzard saw a huge success under Kotick’s leadership and there is no doubt that he will be able to lead the company to a better future.
- A Better ABK group demanded to replace Bobby Kotick as Activision Blizzard CEO and conduct a third-party review by a source of their choice.
- After that, more than 100 employees staged a walkout to express their concerns and voice their demands again.
- “Under Bobby Kotick’s leadership the company has been accused of mistreatment, sexual harassment, rape, and a death threat made by Kotick himself,” A Better ABK said. “The board is just as complicit if they let this slide. It’s past time for Bobby to step down.”
— Valentine Powell 💙🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ (@valentine_irl) November 16, 2021
After the WSJ investigation, Activision Blizzard stock fell by 6.09% to $66.14. It is the biggest drop since May 1, 2020. The company’s shares saw a 15% fall over the last 12 months and keep falling ever since the beginning of the harassment scandal in July.