Activision Blizzard Shareholder Group Calls For Bobby Kotick's Resignation
UPDATED: PlayStation boss says AB's response does not "properly address the situation."
A small portion of Activision Blizzard's shareholders are calling on CEO Bobby Kotick to resign, in light of the accusations made yesterday in an article in the Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post reports that shareholders represented by the Strategic Organizing Center Investment Group (SOC) sent a letter to the company's board of directors asking for Kotick and the two longest-serving members of the board of directors to resign by the end of the year.
"In contrast to past company statements, CEO Bobby Kotick was aware of many incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault and gender discrimination at Activision Blizzard, but failed either to ensure that the executives and managers responsible were terminated or to recognize and address the systematic nature of the company’s hostile workplace culture," the letter read in part.
"After the new revelations, it’s clear that the current leadership repeatedly failed to uphold a safe workplace — a basic function of their job,” SOC executive director Dieter Waizenegger said. “Activision Blizzard needs a new CEO, board chair, and lead independent director with the expertise, skill set and conviction to truly change the company’s culture. We need to really have a reset button on the board.”
SOC was formerly known as CtW Investment Group, the group behind efforts to reduce Kotick's compensation. In total, it represents holders of 4.8 million shares in Activision Blizzard stock, less than one percent of the company's 779 million shares.
Even so, SOC's strong efforts (as CtW) led to Kotick nearly losing his outsized compensation earlier this year, and it's hard to imagine too many other shareholders feeling confident in his leadership after the current round of accusations. The Activision Blizzard board of directors, for its part, said that it's standing by Kotick, but as any sports fan knows, an owner saying he has "full confidence" in his embattled coach often fires that coach by year's end.
UDPATE: Sony's PlayStation chief Jim Ryan has voiced his opinion on the Activision Blizzard situation and Kotick's future, Bloomberg has learned. He said that he was "disheartened and frankly stunned to read" about the allegations and that he and his company "outreached to Activision immediately after the article was published to express our deep concern and to ask how they plan to address the claims made in the article. We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation."
As for what it would take to remove Bobby Kotick as CEO, Fortune has the numbers on that, as well. If terminated "for cause," he would receive only $264,524 as a payout. If terminated "without cause," that number would balloon to $265,175,849, over 1,000 times more. If Kotick leaves of his own accord -- i.e. resigns -- he would likely negotiate a settlement between those two figures.
Termination for cause would require Activision Blizzard to prove that Kotick's actions as CEO involved "willful misconduct or gross negligence in connection with the performance of his duties that has caused or is highly likely to cause severe harm" or that he was "intentionally dishonest in the performance of his duties under his employment agreement and such dishonesty had a material adverse effect."
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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