In the hours after the blockbuster announcement, a Wall Street Journal report revealed that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is slated to step down from his long-time leadership role once the deal closes.
The news comes alongside Microsoft’s official statement that Kotick “will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard,” suggesting that he may only stay with the company until mid-2023. Microsoft also confirmed that Activision Blizzard and its personnel would fall under Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer in its org chart when the acquisition is completed.
Kotick’s unclear future at Activision Blizzard follows months of bad press surrounding a sexual harassment lawsuit Californian authorities lodged against the company.
In late July 2021, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard that paints a picture of a culture of discrimination and sexual harassment against women at the company.
The lawsuit’s fallout led the company’s President to resign and has raised questions about what Kotick knew about the issues and when he first found out about them. Activision Blizzard’s staff have also actively called on Kotick to step down.
Negative publicity around Kotick’s leadership could end up hurting Microsoft’s long-term efforts to attract and retain talent in the booming video industry. Activision Blizzard employees have already expressed displeasure with Microsoft’s decision to keep Kotick as CEO.
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