Bobby Kotick: Threatened With Murder, Looked The Other Way When It Was Abused?

Bobby Kotick, the head of the game company Activision Blizzard, is charged with new allegations. He is said to have known more about grievances in his company than he previously admitted.

Many offices of the video game company Activision Blizzard were suddenly empty on Tuesday afternoon, and that was not due to Corona. Hundreds of employees at various locations in the USA spontaneously stopped their work and took to the streets. In a protest they called for the resignation of CEO Robert "Bobby" Kotick. "Under the leadership of Kotick, the company has been accused of abuse, sexual harassment, rape and a death threat from Kotick himself. His resignation is long overdue," writes the ABetterABK employee movement on Twitter.

The protest action was preceded by research by the Wall Street Journal. As the newspaper reported on Tuesday, Kotick had been aware of several rape allegations and discrimination at Activision Blizzard in recent years without informing the board of directors. Instead, the managing director tried to settle the matter out of court.

Kotick is said to have known about an email last year in which 30 employees in the e-sports department complained about unwanted contact and humiliating comments from colleagues and superiors. In July 2018, Kotick is said to have been informed by the lawyer of a former employee of the subsidiary Sledgehammer Studios that she was allegedly raped twice by a supervisor at a company event. The case was finally settled out of court. In 2007, a flight attendant on Kotick's private jet was fired after accusing the pilot of harassment. In this case, too, Kotick is said to have made sure that the case did not go to court and instead agreed on $ 200,000 in compensation.

Read also: Apple Speeds Up Work On Self-Driving Car

In a video message to the workforce on Tuesday, Kotick denied the allegations. The Wall Street Journal report shows "an inaccurate and misleading view of our company, myself, and my leadership," he said. Activision Blizzard is working hard to be the "most welcoming and inclusive place to work" and to promote "a new zero tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior".

California is suing Activision Blizzard

For many employees, such statements sound like mockery. "We are fed up with being misrepresented, disregarded and mistreated. Something has to change. But if the executive floor does not take responsibility, nothing will happen," the games magazine Polygon quoted an employee who took part in the protests on Tuesday.

In fact, Activision Blizzard, whose subsidiaries develop successful games such as the Call-of-Duty series, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush , has long been criticized. There are repeated reports of harassment in the workplace, large wage differences between men and women and an overall toxic working atmosphere, especially at the locations in the USA. Already in 2018 began the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a US federal agency that deals with discrimination in the workplace, an investigation this year with the payment of 18 million US dollars on the part of Activision's ended.

Read more: WhatsApp Introduce A New Feature For Users

The momentary sad climax: At the end of July, the US state of California filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard . The company has promoted a sexist corporate culture that systematically discriminates against women, said the DFEH, which is responsible for compliance with fair working conditions in California. The proceedings are still ongoing.

In an internal email, Frances Townsend, the company's chief compliance officer and former security advisor to the George W. Bush administration, wrote that the lawsuit presents "a distorted and untrue picture, including factual, ancient and out of context stories." The reaction pissed off many employees as it seemed to deny any problems within the company. Not long afterwards , several executives within the company apologized for the unfortunate and insensitive reaction. As the Wall Street Journal now reports, it should actually not have been Townsend who wrote the statement, but Bobby Kotick himself.

In the course of the DFEH lawsuit, several high-ranking employees have since left the company. World-of-Warcraf t -Lead Alex Afrasiabi had to leave after reports arose about a so-called "Cosby Suite" - based on the actor Bill Cosby, who had meanwhile been convicted of sexual abuse - a hotel room that Afrasiabi maintained during the Blizzcon company exhibition drinking with colleagues and attracting women. In August, J. Allen Brack, CEO of Blizzard Entertainment, announced his resignation. A little later, the head of the personnel department followed, Jesse Meschuk. Previously, there were reports that the HR department repeatedly ignored allegations from employees and that there were no adequate procedures for documenting reported abuses.

Read also: They Create A Holographic Camera That Sees The Invisible

In previous years, employees such as the former head of technology at Blizzard, Ben Kilgore, or Sledgehammer manager Javier Panameno were fired on charges of harassment and rape. The examples show that Activision Blizzard has had a problem with sexual assault for a long time - and only treated it half-heartedly.

CEO Bobby Kotick was largely spared the allegations, not least because there were still enough managers under him who could be held responsible for the grievances. Kotick was mainly criticized because of immense bonus payments, which recently brought him around 155 million US dollars. In view of such sums, it seemed more of a diversionary maneuver when he voluntarily reduced his salary to the minimum amount of 62,500 US dollars this year as part of the debate about the gender pay gap.

The board of directors is still behind Bobby Kotick

With the latest revelations, however, things could get uncomfortable for the 58-year-old, who bought the bankrupt Activision together with others in 1991 and turned it into one of the leading games companies. Because, as the Wall Street Journal writes, the DFEH lawsuit is also about the question of what exactly Kotick knew about the allegations and events within the group and what information he passed on to the management board and investors. According to the report, Kotick knew of far more cases than was previously known. Of cases that he might have had to report to the board of directors of the listed group.

All the more amazing it is that very same board Kotick still strengthens the back and in a statement, the online magazine Wired is present , "confident commitment and skills in Bobby Kotick's leadership" remains. Just three weeks ago, the company announced a new zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment to its investors and at the same time promised to employ 50 percent more women.

The workforce is not convinced of the changes, as the latest protest shows. Numerous employees are calling for Bobby Kotick to be finally held accountable. "We need a systemic change. We need transparency about what is happening," one employee told Polygon.

Incidentally, this does not apply to Activision Blizzard, but also to other large companies in the games industry such as Riot Games and Ubisoft , which have also created a toxic and misogynist work culture over the years - and are now slowly being held accountable.

Do You Know What We Have Posted on

Twitter Facebook Instagram Reddit tumblr

Post a Comment