A new report from the Wall Street Journal has shed some light on Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick, putting him in a truly bad position. WSJ alleges that Kotick had knowledge of the sexual assault and harassment claims at his studios. Additionally, the report said Kotick did not notify the company’s board of directors after it reached an out-of-court settlement with an employee who accused a former supervisor of rape.
Documents including memos and emails shown to the Wall Street Journal reportedly indicated Kotick knew of other accusations made. They also suggest that employees forced out for allegations were still publicly praised, while coworkers were asked to not speak out about it.
The report goes on to allege that Kotick threatened to kill an assistant over voicemail in 2006, which an Activision spokesperson stated was just a joke. Kotick was actually responsible for drafting a statement on the ongoing harassment, not Activision Blizzard and former Bush administration official Frances Townsend. Kotick then later called the statement “tone-deaf.”
Jen Oneal, who briefly served as co-lead at Blizzard, reportedly sent an email to Activision’s legal team were she informed them she was sexually harassed earlier in her career with the company. She also said a party Kotick himself attended in 2007 featured “scantily clad women [dancing] on stripper poles” and that females employees were encouraged to drink more. Oneal was named co-lead after Blizzard president J. Allen Brack left the company when the allegations broke. Oneal recently announced her own departure, saying it was the best decision for her family.
An Activision Blizzard spokesperson provided a statement to GameSpot about the report:
“We are disappointed in the Wall Street Journal’s report, which presents an inaccurate and misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO. Instances of sexual misconduct that were brought to his attention were acted upon. The WSJ ignores important changes underway to make this the industry’s most welcoming and inclusive workplace and it fails to account for the efforts of thousands of employees who work hard every day to live up to their–and our–values.”
“The constant desire to be better has always set this company apart. Which is why, at Mr. Kotick’s direction, we have made significant improvements, including a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate conduct. And it is why we are moving forward with unwavering focus, speed, and resources to continue increasing diversity across our company and industry and to ensure that every employee comes to work feeling valued, safe, respected, and inspired. We will not stop until we have the best workplace for our team.”
Kotick himself also released an internal video–transcribed on Activision Blizzard’s corporate site–saying the report has an “inaccurate and misleading view” of the company and himself. The ABetterABK employee group announced it would be staging a walkout until Kotick has been removed as CEO. The company’s board of directors released its own statement, saying Kotick “appropriately addressed” the problems. Kotick is actually a member of the board of directors.