Pressure is mounting on Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, as his role in his company’s sexism scandal comes under fresh scrutiny.
The game company been in crisis ever since the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit in July, describing its workplace as a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.” On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal published a bombshell report that raises questions about Kotick’s own complicity in this crisis, focusing on his handling of historical harassment claims.
We covered the new revelations on Tuesday. Things have escalated in the days since. A growing chorus is calling for Kotick to step down and the company’s stock has been downgraded by a top analyst. Crucially, however, the board of the company he has led for 30 years stands by him. Here are the key developments in recent days:
- The company’s board of directors said it supports Kotick. “The Board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention,” it said in a statement, which can be read here.
- Shareholders subsequently called for Kotick to go. A group holding 4.8 million shares in Activision wrote the board a letter asking for the resignations of the CEO and the two longest-serving directors. Activision’s total shares amount to around 779 million.
- J.P. Morgan downgraded the company’s stock. J.P. Morgan analyst Alexia Quadrani cut Activision’s share price target from $100 to $88, and downgraded the game maker from overweight to neutral. Quadrani says there is a “significant amount of uncertainty” about the company’s future. The company’s stock price was down as much as 4.6% today.
- Staff staged a walkout — again. Between 110 and 150 employees gathered outside the campus of subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment, with more joining in virtually by stopping work at remote locations. ABK Workers Alliance, which represents employees causing for change, tweeted, “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.” Staff previously walked out in July to show support for the allegations in the DFEH’s lawsuit and to protest the company’s initial response.
- Playstation’s chief reportedly criticized Activision’s response to the scandal. Sony Interactive CEO Jim Ryan told his staff in an email that Activision “has not done enough to address a deep-seated culture of discrimination and harassment,” according to Bloomberg. The company has expressed its “deep concern” directly to Activision, which publishes many games for Playstation.
- Leading video game news site Polygon said Kotick must resign. “If the allegations in the Wall Street Journal are true,” wrote editor-in-chief Chris Plante, “there is no path forward for Activision Blizzard with Bobby Kotick as its CEO. A wound doesn’t heal without first treating the infection.”
Read our ongoing coverage of the Activision Blizzard scandal below.
Image at top: The Activision title Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.