Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal published a big investigation about the situation inside Activision Blizzard. It is alleged that Bobby Kotick hid information about harassment for years and once threatened to kill one of the employees himself. The board of directors sided with him, but the company’s shares fell to the lowest in more than a year.

The main thing from the WSJ investigation

  • In 2018, a former employee of Sledgehammer Games told the Cat that in 2016 and 2017 she was raped by one of the managers. The head of Activision Blizzard managed to resolve the case before the court, and he himself did not tell the board of directors about the incident.
  • In 2017, Dan Bunting, co-head of Treyarch, was accused of harassment against one of the employees. The HR department insisted on his dismissal, but the Cat decided not to do it. After the publication of yesterday’s investigation, it became known that Bunting would still leave his post.
  • The cat knew about the accusations against another Sledgehammer employee, Eduard Roehrich. In 2017, he harassed his colleague in a drunken state. However, Roerich was granted a two-week vacation and allowed to stay in the company.
  • Jennifer Oneal, who headed Blizzard together with Mike Ybarra after the departure of President Jay Allen Brack, left her post in November. Now it has become known that she was also harassed while working at Activision and received less money than Ibarra.
  • The investigation mentions corporate parties at which the Cat was present. At such parties, openly dressed girls danced on poles, and the DJ in every possible way asked women to get drunk so that men would have more fun.
  • Bobby Kotick himself has also been accused of inappropriate behavior several times — both in the workplace and outside it. In 2006, he harassed an assistant and threatened to kill her (for which he immediately apologized).
  • A year later, the Cat fired the stewardess of his private plane after she complained of harassment by the pilot. As a result, she managed to get compensation in the amount of $ 200 thousand.
  • Last year, about 30 employees of the Activision esports department told in a letter about numerous cases of harassment. It is alleged that the Cat was aware of the situation, but did not take the necessary measures. According to a representative of Activision, the company held meetings with a group of employees and organized trainings with the heads of the division.
  • In July, Activision Blizzard’s senior vice president for corporate Affairs, Frances Townsend, called a number of accusations against the company false and distorted. Because of this, she soon resigned as the head of a group of Activision Blizzard employees, and the Cat criticized the tone of her letter. Now it turned out that the Cat personally helped to make this statement.

Reaction of Bobby Kotick and the Board of Directors

  • Kotick recorded a video message to employees in which he called the WSJ investigation “inaccurate and misleading.” He once again stressed that the company will adhere to a zero tolerance policy in relation to any cases of harassment.
  • “I want to say that anyone who doubts my desire to create the most friendly and inclusive working environment does not really appreciate how important this is for me,” said Kotick.
  • Activision Blizzard’s board of directors sided with Bobby Kotick. In their statement, the shareholders noted that they continue to believe in the company’s management and its desire to create a favorable working environment.
  • The Council stressed that under the leadership of Activision Blizzard, Activision has achieved unprecedented success, and there is no reason to doubt that the company is moving in the right direction.

Employee strike

  • Shortly after the publication of the investigation, a group of A Better ABK employees demanded the resignation of Bobby Kotick and an independent investigation into the company.
  • After that, A Better ABK organized a strike, which was attended by over 100 Activision Blizzard employees. Their colleagues were supported by the A Better Ubisoft group, which is trying to fight injustice in its company.
  • “Under the leadership of Bobby Kotick, the company was accused of discrimination, sexual harassment, rape and death threats by Kotick himself,” A Better ABK said in a statement.
  • Also, a group of employees called the reaction of the board of directors of Activision Blizzard unacceptable: “We are not just a money-making machine. We are human beings, and it is clear to us that Bobby Kotick is not capable of ensuring the health and safety of any of the employees.”

Falling stocks

  • The value of Activision Blizzard shares fell by 6.09% after the publication of the WSJ investigation. At the close of trading, they were selling at $66.14 apiece — the lowest price since May 2020.
  • In total, Activision Blizzard shares have fallen by 15% over the past 12 months. The most active decline began shortly after the harassment scandal began in July.
  • At the beginning of the month, the stock price also collapsed after Activision Blizzard published its quarterly report. In this case, it was most likely due to the next transfer of Diablo IV and Overwatch 2.