As was originally reported close to two years ago, Activision Blizzard CEO and founder Bobby Kotick is officially leaving the company following Microsoft's buyout of the Call of Duty giant. When Microsoft closed the deal in October, it was reported that Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer asked Kotick to stay on for the time being, and now he's officially leaving as many expected he would.
"Phil shares our values and recognizes our talents. He is passionate about our games and the people who make them. He has bold ambition," Kotick said in a memo to staff.
Kotick is reportedly leaving Activision Blizzard with a gigantic pay package in the area of $400 million.
According to The Verge, Kotick is officially stepping down on December 29. He may not be replaced directly, but Microsoft is putting Blizzard president Mike Ybaara, Activision Publishing president Rob Kostich, and Activision Blizzard vice chair Thomas Tippl in a new organization chart that reports to Xbox executive Matt Booty.
Activision Blizzard communications boss Lulu Meservey is leaving on January 31, while Blizzard and King vice chairman Humam Sakhnini is leaving at the end of December. The Verge reported that "a number of other" Activision Blizzard executives are leaving in March, but none were named.
Kotick became Activision's CEO in 1991 and has been the company's top executive ever since. He has been involved in multiple controversies. Recently, Activision Blizzard announced a settlement with the state of California and will pay $54 million to the state along with an additional $47 million to female employees who worked at the company from 2015 to 2020.
The 2021 lawsuit accused Activision Blizzard of fostering a "frat boy" workplace culture rife with sexual harassment. Activision Blizzard and the California Civil Rights Department say in the settlement agreement that investigations into the company's culture did not turn up evidence of "systemic or widespread sexual harassment."
An investigation into Activision's board, including Kotick, found no evidence of wrongdoing, according to the settlement agreement. In the wake of the lawsuit's allegations, Activision Blizzard announced steps it had taken to create "a more accountable workplace."
The lawsuit, in part, led to Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard. The publisher behind Call of Duty and World of Warcraft saw its stock price significantly fall in the wake of the lawsuit's accusations, leading to Microsoft's $69 billion acquisition.
Activision Blizzard has settled multiple other cases in recent years. In March 2022, Activision Blizzard settled a separate sexual harassment lawsuit with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to the tune of $18 million, and in February 2023 paid $35 million in a settlement to the SEC over accusations that the publisher failed to properly disclose information to investors.