US Senators Are “Deeply Concerned” About Microsoft’s Proposal To Purchase Activision Blizzard

A group of US Sen­a­tors, includ­ing Bernie Sanders and Eliz­a­beth War­ren, are call­ing the FTC to have greater scruti­ny when look­ing at the merg­er of Microsoft and Activi­sion Bliz­zard. They are cit­ing con­cerns about reports of the mis­con­duct hap­pen­ing at the helm of the com­pa­ny. The Wall Street Jour­nal first report­ed on this. After the pub­li­ca­tion of this sto­ry was released, Activi­sion Bliz­zard announced Microsoft is sup­port­ive of the com­pa­ny’s “goals and the work being done” to improve its culture.

The US Senators–including Eliz­a­beth War­ren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Book­er, and Shel­don Whitehouse–wrote their let­ter to Fed­er­al Trade Com­mis­sion chair Lina Khan. The law­mak­ers said the FTC should find out if Microsoft­’s pro­posed buy­out of Activi­sion Bliz­zard could “exac­er­bate the flur­ry of sex­u­al-abuse, harass­ment and retal­i­a­tion alle­ga­tions at Activi­sion stem­ming from recent fed­er­al and state investigations.”

Just this week, a judge approved Activi­sion Bliz­zard’s set­tle­ment over work­place cul­ture issues that will see the com­pa­ny cre­ate a $18 mil­lion fund to com­pen­sate the affect­ed work­ers. This is just one of the many law­suits Activi­sion Bliz­zard is fac­ing regard­ing the sex­u­al mis­con­duct in the workplace.

The sen­a­tors also stat­ed they were con­cerned that Activi­sion Bliz­zard CEO Bob­by Kotick, who has been accused of know­ing (and cov­er­ing up) instances of sex­u­al harass­ment and oth­er abuse, will remain with the com­pa­ny and poten­tial­ly get a mas­sive pay­out when if/when the deal goes through. It has also been report­ed that Kotick will leave the com­pa­ny after the merg­er is done.

As part of the rules of merg­ers this size, the US gov­ern­ment must make sure it does­n’t break any anti-trust laws. How­ev­er, the sen­a­tors are sub­mit­ting their feed­back sep­a­rate from that and to cite their own spe­cif­ic con­cerns. The WSJ pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed that Khan, the FTC chair, would specif­i­cal­ly look into whether or not Microsoft­’s buy­out of Activi­sion Bliz­zard would “sub­stan­tial­ly lessen competition.”

We are deeply con­cerned about con­sol­i­da­tion in the tech indus­try and its impact on work­ers,” the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors said in their letter–reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Microsoft­’s CEO, Satya Nadel­la, believes the deal will go through, which is unsur­pris­ing. He said in an inter­view that, if the deal should fall through, Microsoft will still be num­ber three in terms of mar­ket share.

A spokesper­son for Activi­sion Bliz­zard sent a state­ment in response to the US Sen­a­tors lob­by­ing the FTC to scru­ti­nize the merg­er, which you can check out below:

On Tues­day, the fed­er­al court approved a set­tle­ment agree­ment between Activi­sion Bliz­zard and the EEOC that includes an $18M fund to com­pen­sate eli­gi­ble claimants and to bol­ster enhance­ments to poli­cies, prac­tices, and train­ing to pre­vent harass­ment and dis­crim­i­na­tion in the work­place, among oth­er com­mit­ments. The com­pa­ny is com­mit­ted to a safe and equi­table work­ing envi­ron­ment for all employ­ees and has invest­ed sig­nif­i­cant resources to ensure we’re cre­at­ing a mod­el for the indus­try. The trans­ac­tion between Microsoft and Activi­sion Bliz­zard will not inter­rupt any of the actions the Activi­sion Blizzard’s lead­er­ship team has imple­ment­ed through­out 2021 and is con­tin­u­ing to imple­ment in 2022 with regards to improv­ing our work­place. Activi­sion Blizzard’s lead­er­ship team has dis­cussed the company’s goals at length with Microsoft, and Microsoft has reviewed the renewed cul­ture com­mit­ment and actions Activi­sion Bliz­zard have done so far, and the efforts they’ve under­tak­en. Microsoft is sup­port­ive of the goals and the work being done. This is a com­pelling trans­ac­tion for all stake­hold­ers, includ­ing employees.

No addi­tion­al spe­cial com­pen­sa­tion arrange­ments for Mr. Kotick were entered into in con­nec­tion with the trans­ac­tion. Mr. Kotick­’s base salary has been reduced to Cal­i­for­ni­a’s min­i­mum annu­al salary (which is approx­i­mate­ly $62,500 for 2022), and he will not be award­ed any bonus­es or equi­ty grants until the Work­place Respon­si­bil­i­ty Com­mit­tee of the Activi­sion Bliz­zard Board of Direc­tors has deter­mined that Activi­sion Bliz­zard has made appro­pri­ate progress toward achieve­ment of the trans­for­ma­tion­al gen­der-relat­ed goals and oth­er com­mit­ments described in such announcement.” 

I am a Platinum lover and an ex- Cod-aholic. I've been playing games since I was 5 years old and I refuse to quit, despite my mother's attempts to get me to. God of War and its successors are my all time favorite games.

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