Bobby Kotick (pictured top), the embattled CEO of Activision Blizzard, apologized last month over the gaming giant’s handling of claims of sexual harassment and discrimination.
But a newly-published investigation in The Wall Street Journal reveals Kotick’s spotty history of handling of these matters and questions his leadership skills.
Here are a few of the new revelations:
- In a 2006 incident, Kotick harassed one of his assistants and threatened to have her killed in a voicemail. The matter was settled out of court, and a company spokesperson said, “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 has kept harassment allegations and settlements from the company’s board of directors. Many incidents, including an incident where an Activision employee committed suicide after a photo of her vagina was circulated at a company party, were never reported to the board. According to the Wall Street Journal, “[board] directors have questioned Mr. Kotick about what he knew and why they hadn’t been better informed.”
- Following a 2017 harassment allegation against Dan Buntin, co-head of Activision’s Treyarch Studio (Call of Duty games), the company’s human resources department launched an investigation and recommended that he be fired, however Kotick overrode the decision, and suggested instead counseling for Buntin. Buntin remained at the company until the WSJ’s recent investigation, at which point he left the company.
- In another harassment incident, the accused employee, Eduard Roehrich, was put on two-weeks paid leave and allowed to remain at Activision in a different department.
- Ben Kilgore, Blizzard’s former technology chief, was fired in 2018 after multiple allegations of sexually harassing female staffers, however the company then sent an email to employees thanking Kilgore “for his many contributions over the last four and a half years.” The move struck many employees as hypocritical considering that they’d been asked not to publicly speak about the reason for Kilgore’s departure.
- Kotick disputes these incidents as not being representative of the company’s overall culture, however the WSJ reports that former staffers at various Activision subsidiaries have confirmed “behavior such as workplace drinking, comments about women’s appearances, the sharing of explicit content and staff-organized trips to strip clubs were common.”