As Activision Blizzard works to finalise its planned sale to Microsoft, it has reportedly added a line to its main filing which claims the company has not yet discussed the future of CEO Bobby Kotick with Microsoft, including what will happen to him once the merger is completed. While it was previously believed Kotick would be booted out post-merger, it now appears that nothing has been decided at all.
‘No discussions or negotiations regarding post-closing employment arrangements with Microsoft occurred between Microsoft and Mr. Kotick prior to the approval and executive of the merger agreement and the transactions contemplated thereby, or have occurred subsequent to such approval and execution, thought the date hereof,’ the update reads. It was cited by Axios reporter Stephen Totilo, who has followed the unfolding case closely.
While the language is couched in legal-friendly terms, the basic interpretation is that the fate of Kotick is currently undecided. He reportedly stands to earn US $390 million (AU $531 million) from the Activision Blizzard sale to Microsoft but outside of this, it’s unknown whether he’ll stay with the company in any capacity.
There’ll likely be a transition period should he depart, but the circumstances of this transition are unclear.
The update follows months of protests against Kotick, who was named in a Wall Street Journal report as allegedly having an active role in creating a company culture that discriminated against women, and led to alleged abuse by employees and management.
In November 2021, employees kicked off a widespread campaign to oust Kotick following the report, which alleged he had threatened two employees between 2006 and 2007. The report further alleged Kotick had worked to cover up sexual harassment at the company, and allegedly intimidated female employees into not reporting incidents.
Activision Blizzard employees staged a walkout following the release of this report, and over 1,500 employees signed an open letter demanding his resignation in the same period.
Despite the backlash, Kotick remained in the job – and given Activision Blizzard’s recent filing, it appears that his position will remain the same for now.
It’s likely the Microsoft merger will bring great change to Activision Blizzard, but whether this will impact Kotick’s standing is currently unknown. Whatever decision is made will only be clear once the merger is finalised.