Things aren’t looking any pretty for Call of Duty makers Activision Blizzard, as its CEO Bobby Kotick is in hot water as usual.
A recent report in the Wall Street Journal has detailed unflattering news about the CEO, citing that he knew about the Activision Blizzard sexual harassment issues and didn’t do much about it. It also detailed Jen Oneal’s short reign as Blizzard, which also involved Kotick’s own behaviour and how the company’s leadership responded to said issues.
Kotick also left a threatening voicemail on an assistant’s phone in which he threatened to have her killed. He also personally intervened to keep then co-head of Treyarch Dan Bunting, to keep him in the company after he was accused of sexually harassing a female employee in 2017 after a night of drinking. An investigation prompted the company to recommend firing Bunting, but Kotick stepped in.
Other employees who came under fire include Sledgehammer Games supervisor Javier Panameno who was accused of sexual assault; the reports were brought up in 2018 to Activision and Panemeno was fired two months later. Former Blizzard technology chief Ben Kilgore faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment over several years, at one point also lied about a relationship with a lower level employee during an internal investigation. Kilgore was fired in 2018 with Kotick’s approval.
Keep in mind that these are all alleged. Right now, the ABK Workers Alliance has issued a formal demand for Kotick’s removal and called for an employee walkout today.
We have instituted our own Zero Tolerance Policy. 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. We are staging a Walkout today. We welcome you to join us.
— ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) November 16, 2021
Activision Blizzard has claimed these accusations as “inaccurate”, at this point in writing. The company had this to say about the assistant death threat:
“Mr. Kotick quickly apologized 16 years ago for the obviously hyperbolic and inappropriate voice mail, and he deeply regrets the exaggeration and tone in his voice mail to this day.”
Kotick also published the following statement after the WSJ article surfaced:
“There’s an article today that paints an inaccurate and misleading view of our company, of me personally, and my leadership.
I want to say two important things about this: First, we are incredibly fortunate to have the most talented people in our industry all so committed to constant improvement. And I share this commitment. The second thing I want to say is that anyone who doubts my conviction to be the most welcoming, inclusive workplace doesn’t really appreciate how important this is to me.”