Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has been conscious of sexual misconduct allegations on the firm for years and has had his personal historical past of harassment and abusive habits, based on a bombshell report in The Wall Street Journal.

The report accommodates many surprising and beforehand unreported allegations about Activision Blizzard, which has been beneath intense scrutiny following the state of California’s July lawsuit alleging the corporate has a tradition of “constant sexual harassment.” The issues seem to go all the way in which to the highest, as the brand new WSJ report accommodates quite a few troubling tales of Kotick’s consciousness of issues and of his personal habits.

In a single occasion, Kotick was conscious {that a} former feminine worker at an Activision-owned studio alleged she was raped by her male supervisor, based on the WSJ, however Kotick reportedly saved this info from his personal board of administrators and didn’t inform them concerning the eventual settlement with the worker.

Right here is one significantly horrifying story about Kotick’s personal alleged habits:

In 2006, one among his assistants complained that he had harassed her, together with by threatening in a voice mail to have her killed, based on folks acquainted with the matter. He settled the matter out of court docket, the folks mentioned.

And one other:

In 2007, he was sued by the flight attendant on a personal jet he co-owned. The flight attendant claimed the aircraft’s pilot had sexually harassed her, and, after she complained to the opposite proprietor, Mr. Kotick fired her. The defendants denied the allegations. In a separate motion associated to authorized charges within the case, an arbitrator, citing what he mentioned was sworn testimony, wrote that Mr. Kotick instructed the flight attendant and her attorneys, “I’m going to destroy you.” A spokesman for Mr. Kotick denied that he mentioned that.

In 2008, they settled by paying the attendant $200,000, based on the arbitrator’s choice. A spokesman for Mr. Kotick mentioned he couldn’t have fired her in retaliation for complaining as a result of she by no means complained on to him.

The WSJ additionally studies that Kotick himself was the one who drafted the extensively criticized letter that was supposedly written by Activision Blizzard exec Frances Townsend. Townsend, a girl, was publicly shamed and noticed requires her resignation.

In one other letter shared publicly shortly after, Kotick apologized for the “Townsend letter,” saying “our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf.” He apparently didn’t see match to say that he drafted it within the first place.

An organization spokesperson appeared to substantiate his involvement with the “Townsend letter” by telling the WSJ that Kotick takes accountability for and regrets his participation. “Ms. Townsend should not be blamed for this mistake,” the spokesperson mentioned.

In that second Kotick memo, he introduced that Activision Blizzard had employed an unbiased regulation agency to overview the corporate’s practices — recognized union-busting regulation agency WilmerHale. Since then, the state of California has accused Activision Blizzard and WilmerHale of “withholding and suppressing evidence.”

One other surprising revelation from the brand new WSJ report is about Jen Oneal, who stepped down as co-lead of Blizzard three months after taking the function. She was appointed co-head of the studio in August alongside former Xbox exec Mike Ybarra after earlier Blizzard president J. Allen Brack left the corporate. In line with the WSJ, only one month after being appointed, Oneal wrote an e-mail to the corporate’s authorized crew saying that she had been sexually harassed whereas at Activision Blizzard, that she was being paid lower than Ybarra, and that she wished to resign. “I have been tokenized, marginalized, and discriminated against,” Oneal wrote, based on the WSJ.

This abstract solely scratches the floor of what’s included within the report, which you should read in full.

An Activision Blizzard spokesperson shared this assertion in response to The Verge’s questions concerning the report:

We’re disenchanted within the Wall Road Journal’s report, which presents a deceptive view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO. Cases of sexual misconduct that have been delivered to his consideration have been acted upon. The WSJ ignores necessary adjustments underway to make this the business’s most welcoming and inclusive office and it fails to account for the efforts of 1000’s of staff who work arduous every single day to dwell as much as their – and our – values. The fixed need to be higher has at all times set this firm aside. Which is why, at Mr. Kotick’s path, we’ve got made vital enhancements, together with a zero-tolerance coverage for inappropriate conduct. And it’s why we’re transferring ahead with unwavering focus, velocity, and sources to proceed rising range throughout our firm and business and to make sure that each worker involves work feeling valued, protected, revered, and impressed. We won’t cease till we’ve got the most effective office for our crew.

In an announcement to The Verge, WSJ spokesperson Steve Severinghaus mentioned that “nothing in Activision Blizzard’s statement challenges the facts in our reporting.”

Kotick additionally pushed again on the WSJ’s report in a video message despatched to staff on Tuesday and subsequently shared with the world within the type of a written transcript. Whereas he doesn’t decide to any new adjustments on the firm, he does reiterate that “as I have made clear, we are moving forward with a new zero tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior — and zero means zero. Any reprehensible conduct is simply unacceptable.”

In response, A Higher ABK, an advocacy group fashioned by Activision Blizzard staff, said that it “will not be silenced until Bobby Kotick has been replaced as CEO.” The group says it is going to be internet hosting a walkout on Tuesday. Staff additionally walked out in July.

In October, Kotick took a large pay lower and mentioned that the corporate can be waiving pressured arbitration for sexual harassment and discrimination claims. The Securities and Trade Fee subpoenaed the corporate and lots of senior execs, together with Kotick, in September.

Replace November sixteenth, 3:16PM ET: Added assertion from The Wall Road Journal.


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